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The health, beauty and ecosystem of our beaches is under threat

The driving cause for most of these problems is overdevelopment and poor coastal management. If no buildings crowded the shoreline, there would be no shoreline armoring, beach nourishment, threats to the beach fauna and flora or shoreline erosion problems.

Coastal Care Introduction

“Beach sand: so common, so complex, so perfect for sandcastles; and now it is a precious and vanishing resource.”

—Orrin H. Pilkey

Beaches are the most visited natural attraction on the planet. The coast attracts millions of vacationing people each year. People love the sand, the surf, the sea breeze, and the vacation ambiance so much that many come to the beach to stay. There is a magical feeling living near the ocean, but human migration towards the coast comes with a high environmental price tag.

A majority of the world’s population lives within 50 km of the coast and the projections are 75% by the year 2025. This strip of land represents only 3% of the total land mass of the planet. In this context, it is easier to understand the environmental impact. Over 70% of the earth is covered by water and with so many people living on the coast, we are polluting a major source of food, the oceans.

A beautiful undeveloped beach in Indonesia.

A beautiful undeveloped beach in Indonesia.

The loss of life and economic impacts of major storms – cyclones, typhoons, and hurricanes – and tsunamis would be reduced drastically if beaches were not developed. Unfortunately, recent examples of the problem are numerous: 1999 Indian cyclone Orissa (over 10,000 dead and $5 billion in damage), 2004 Indian Ocean tsumani (over 250,000 dead), 2005 Hurricane Katrina (over 1,800 killed and $80 billion in damage), and 2008 Hurricane Ike (over 30 killed and $30 billion in damage).

Today, the health, beauty, and ecosystem function of the world’s beaches are under threat and the driving causes for most of these problems are over-development and poor coastal management. If no buildings crowded the shoreline there would be no shoreline armoring, beach nourishment, threats to the beach fauna and flora or shoreline erosion problems.

It is important to distinguish between erosion and erosion problems. Erosion refers to the landward retreat of the shoreline. Most of the world’s shorelines are eroding, a very few are building out (accreting). There is no erosion problem, however, until someone builds something next to a shoreline. All over the world in remote areas, shorelines are slowly retreating and no one cares. In a global sense, our continents are slowly shrinking, and in a very real sense, erosion problems are man made. On a high-rise, condo-lined shoreline like those in Spain and the Florida coast, erosion is a huge problem and will only worsen in the future as sea level rise accelerates. Sea level rise will accelerate erosion of the shoreline and have a dramatic impact on our infrastructures, our economies, and our way of life.

Sea level rise is one of the most important causes of global shoreline erosion. If the coastline is developed, shoreline armoring is often used in an effort to save the buildings from the eroding shoreline. Once this begins, the beaches will degrade and eventually be lost. In the long-term, however, these armoring efforts are in vain. The ocean will continue to rise as the rate of sea level rise is expected to increase as the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets continue to degrade. The situation is made worse now because beach houses and condominiums are being built closer to the ocean than they were 25 years ago. Many of us are familiar with images of large beach houses about to fall victim to the oceans simply from daily erosion accelerated by the ever rising sea.

The work of the Santa Aguila Foundation will emphasize the impacts of sand mining and shoreline armoring: the first because the effects of sand mining have been largely ignored on a global scale and the latter due to its overwhelming negative impacts on the world’s beaches.


Surfing in / Inform

Sand extraction from Titas triggers erosion

News, Sand Mining
Oct
12

Illegal extractions of sand from the River Titas in Sarail and Brahmanbaria Sadar Upazila are going on unabated intensifying threat of erosion in the nearby villages, local residents said.

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Why Are Storm Surges So Deadly?

Inform
Oct
12

Hurricanes can be deadly, but it’s typically not the wind from these powerful storms that causes the highest number of fatalities. Rather, storm surges caused by hurricanes are “often the greatest threat to life and property from a hurricane,” according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC).

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Here are South Africa’s Blue Flag beaches for 2016

News, Pollution
Oct
11

South Africa has been awarded 58 Blue Flag status sites for 2016, with the most blue flag beaches in the southern hemisphere. 45 South African beaches have been awarded Blue Flag status for the 2016/17 season which opens officially on 1 November, along with five marinas and eight sustainable tourism boats.

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Northern prawn fleet seek answer on unexplained mass mangrove dieback in Gulf of Carpentaria

Austral Fisheries chief executive officer is questioning why more is not being done to explain a mass mangrove dieback event in the Gulf of Carpentaria, in northern Australia.

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Hurricane Matthew’s Destructive Storm Surges Hint at New Normal

The coastal U.S. is highly vulnerable to rising seas, which are expected to surge in the coming years. Will this storm be a wake-up call?

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Indians at risk of flooding powerless to stem the tide of illegal sand mining

News, Sand Mining
Oct
10

As rising sea levels threaten to engulf homes along the shores of Tamil Nadu state, locals fear the erosion of the coastline is due to the illegal sand trade.

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As the climate warms, we are ‘primed’ for worse storms than Sandy

With the climate warming and the sea level rising, conditions are ripe for storms deadlier and more devastating than Sandy that put more people at risk. If damaging storms become more frequent, retreat from areas with mounting repetitive losses will become a topic of discussion.

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Illegal sand mining — the open secret of a multi-million crore scam, India

India’s booming 157 billion dollar construction sector is expected to grow in the coming years. This means that the demand for sand and other minor minerals will increase as well, making it more difficult for the government to curb the methodical and unlawful abuse of riverbeds and coastal areas.

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Let mangroves recover to protect coasts

Allowing mangrove forests to recover naturally result in more resilient habitats that benefit both wildlife and people, say conservationists.

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Recent / Inform

Tanzania: Total Plastics Use Ban Plan By Next January Remains

August 21st, 2016

The government has reiterated that it won’t back down on its decision to ban the use of plastic bags effective January next year.

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Cubans bemoan trashing of island’s beaches

August 21st, 2016

Litter is a problem virtually everywhere in the world. But the trashing of Cuba’s world-class beaches by beachgoers has become so extreme, that tourists are complaining and Cubans bemoan it as a symptom of something amiss in a nation that’s long cherished cleanliness, order and mutual respect.

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Authorities investigate source of 30km oil spill in Darwin harbor, Australia

August 21st, 2016

Environmentalists says the spill could be devastating for the harbour’s mangrove and marine ecosystems and those responsible needed to be found.

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Marine life dwindles after beach renourishment at Folly Beach, SC

August 20th, 2016

In what’s considered the first study of its kind in South Carolina, a state scientific report says two beach renourishment projects had a long-lasting effect on bugs, small shellfish and worms that lived in areas where offshore-sand mining occurred at Folly Beach.

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A Nearly Ice-Free Northwest Passage

August 20th, 2016

For most of the year, the Northwest Passage is frozen and impassible. But during the summer months, the ice melts and breaks up to varying degrees.

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Study maps hidden water pollution in U.S. coastal areas

August 19th, 2016

Researchers have uncovered previously hidden sources of ocean pollution along more than 20 percent of America’s coastlines.

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Pacific sea level predicts global temperature changes

August 19th, 2016

The amount of sea level rise in the Pacific Ocean can be used to estimate future global surface temperatures, according to a new report led by University of Arizona geoscientists.

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Cemex sand mine decision anticipated before years’ end; California

August 19th, 2016

For the Cemex sand mine in Marina, and for those calling for it to be shut down, the hourglass may almost be out of sand.

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Experts Clash on Age of Land Bridge Connecting Americas

August 18th, 2016

Finding the age of the Isthmus of Panama – the land bridge connecting the Americas -, has even broader implications. “It’s a fundamental question with major consequences for understanding ecology, evolution and the origin of life today in the seas and land of the Americas…”

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Climate change prompts Shishmaref, Alaska, to vote for mainland move

August 18th, 2016

Residents of a tiny island village in Alaska that has been ravaged by erosion blamed on climate change have voted to move to the mainland, but there likely isn’t enough money for the impoverished community of just 600 people to follow through on the decision.

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Coastal Care junior
The World's Beaches
Sand Mining
One Percent