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 Scam

News, Sand Mining

Allegations of illegal beach sand mining in southern Tamil Nadu gain considerable strength.

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Oil Industry and Smoke From Residential Burning Speed Arctic Thaw


Gas flaring by the oil industry and smoke from residential burning contributes more black carbon pollution to Arctic than previously thought, potentially speeding the melting of Arctic sea ice.

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Ocean Litter Is Being Ingested By Humans

Inform, Pollution

The plastic peril inflicting our oceans is now so severe humans are ingesting particles of litter, a leading marine expert has warned.

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West African Communities Rally Against Monster Boats


In a statement sent out in Nouakchott, Mauritania, local fishermen called on West African governments to no longer allow mega trawlers into their fisheries because of the profound impact they have on fishstocks, and local livelihoods as a result.

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Slowing The Plunder of Madagascar’s Fish Stocks


The coastline of Madagascar, the world’s fourth largest island, is about 4,800km, providing it with an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of more than 1.2 million square kilometres, but the government has no capacity to patrol, police or monitor its vast maritime asset.

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On California’s Beaches, Mallard Ducks Have Learned to Surf for Food


Mallards, that familiar duck species ubiquitous to park ponds with males parading their emerald-green heads, have picked up a new feeding habit along the beaches of Santa Barbara. These ducks have learned to surf. For sand crabs.

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Trying to Shame Dune Holdouts at Jersey Shore


Some oceanfront properties owners have refused to grant easements to allow the federal government to build a massive dune along a 50-mile stretch of the Jersey Shore. Without the protective ridge of sand, engineers predict it is only a matter of time before homes, neighborhoods, even entire communities are wiped out by rising seas.

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Caribbean Water Supplies Severely Threatened By Climate Change, Scientists Warn


Experts are sounding a new alarm about the effects of climate change for parts of the Caribbean , the depletion of already strained drinking water throughout much of the region.

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Experts Team Up on Tsunami Resilience in California


An earthquake in Alaska, if large enough, could spawn a tsunami that could cause at least $10 billion in damage along California’s coastline, scientists say.

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Recent / Inform

European Fish Stocks Poised for Recovery


July 22nd, 2013

The results of a major international effort to assess the status of dozens of European fish stocks find that many of those stocks in the northeast Atlantic are being fished sustainably today and that, given time, those populations should continue to recover.

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Climate Change Slowdown is Due to Warming of Deep oceans, Say Scientists


July 22nd, 2013

A recent slowdown in the upward march of global temperatures is likely to be the result of the slow warming of the deep oceans…

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Hermosa Beach Oil Drilling Reconsidered 80 Years After Being Banned


July 22nd, 2013

Residents are debating whether to get back into the oil business, 80 years after this wealthy coastal town first banned drilling.

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Bombs Dropped on Great Barrier Reef Marine Park


July 21st, 2013

Two American fighter jets dropped four unarmed bombs into Australia’s Great Barrier Reef Marine Park last week, when a training exercise went wrong, the US Navy said, angering environmentalists…

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Bangladesh Pollution, Told in Colors and Smells


July 21st, 2013

Environmental damage usually trails rapid industrialization in developing countries. Bangladesh’s garment and textile industries have contributed heavily to what experts describe as a water pollution disaster…

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Measuring CO2 in Green Ecosystems of the Mexican Caribbean


July 20th, 2013

Jungles, forests, mangroves, swamps and lagoons are natural carbon storehouses or “sinks” in the Caribbean regions of Mexico. But now studies are being conducted to measure their capacity for absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

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The Sea Is Invisible To Us – So It’s Become Our Trash Heap


July 19th, 2013

A new exhibition, Aquatopia: the Imaginary of the Deep, should remind us of the mysteries the sea still holds, as well as the pollution and plastic bottles

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Grenada Authorized Sand Mining at 2 Beaches to Small Projects


July 19th, 2013

While Grenada banned sand mining in 2009, an amendment to the law allows the environment minister to make certain exceptions, and now the government has declared two beaches open to sand mining.

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Crustacean Sand-Dwellers Suffering Localized Extinctions


July 18th, 2013

Two types of small beach critters, both cousins of the beloved, backyard roly-poly, are suffering localized extinctions in Southern California at an alarming rate, says a new study by UC Santa Barbara scientists.

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One Flew Over a Beach Sand Mining Pit, Sénégal


July 17th, 2013

An astounding video by l’Institut National de L’Audiovisuel.

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