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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

Sea Level Rise Will Reshape U.S. Population In All 50 States

Sea level rise could cause mass migrations that will affect not just the United States’ East Coast, but reshape communities deep in the heart of the country, according to new research published in the journal Nature Climate Change this week.

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Protecting Clipperton Island – The Most Remote Atoll on the Planet

Though this French overseas territory is now considered a marine protected area, it still faces threats from overfishing, with sharks and other large marine life nearly vanishing.

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When rising seas transform risk into certainty

Along parts of the East Coast, the entire system of insuring coastal property is beginning to break down.

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Top Scuba Diving Destinations: Marine Sanctuaries & Hope Spots

Celebrate, Inform
Apr
18

When planning your next dive trip, set a course for a marine sanctuary or Hope Spot. These ecologically-diverse areas are known for unusual critters, animal migrations, or other features that warrant special protection. By visiting these areas, you’re investing in both local conservation efforts and exceptional diving memories.

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The Ocean Is Boiling’: The Complete Oral History of the 1969 Santa Barbara Oil Spill

On January 28th, 1969, crude oil and gas erupted from a platform off the coast of Santa Barbara, California. Alarm over the disaster reverberated around the world, energizing the nascent environmental movement and leading to a slew of legislative changes.

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7 Facts about plastic bags that will change how you use them

Inform, Pollution
Apr
18

There’s no denying that plastic bags are bad for the environment. It’s well researched and well documented – and yet 160,000 plastic bags are still used every second around the world. This needs to change, so we’ve put together some facts that will change the way you (and your friends) use plastic bags (and hopefully stop you using them all together).

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Warning from IDB expert: Trinidad is shrinking

Trinidad is shrinking and changing as it becomes increasingly vulnerable to storms, flooding and other natural disasters which cause coastal erosion and the retreating of the shoreline. In Columbus Bay, in West Trinidad, the coastline has retreated by 150 metres since 1994, losing 6.5 hectares of land.

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Inventory Tracks ‘Armoring’ of Beaches, Inlets

The “Beach and Tidal Habitat Inventories,” covers the East Coast from Maine to the North Carolina-South Carolina border, and is based on Google Earth data that show changes in the beaches and inlets from Hurricane Sandy, and by man, from 2012 through 2015.

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Easter Island

This remote volcanic island has intrigued generations of scholars. Famed for its monolithic statues, Easter Island is shrouded in mystery. Its population, once sizable, collapsed.

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Recent / Inform

Inventory Tracks ‘Armoring’ of Beaches, Inlets

April 17th, 2017

The “Beach and Tidal Habitat Inventories,” covers the East Coast from Maine to the North Carolina-South Carolina border, and is based on Google Earth data that show changes in the beaches and inlets from Hurricane Sandy, and by man, from 2012 through 2015.

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Easter Island

April 16th, 2017

This remote volcanic island has intrigued generations of scholars. Famed for its monolithic statues, Easter Island is shrouded in mystery. Its population, once sizable, collapsed.

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Warmer Oceans Increase Likelihood Of Toxic Shellfish, Study Finds

April 15th, 2017

According to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, domoic acid may become more prevalent as oceans warm, threatening birds and humans alike.

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As China’s Mudflats Disappear, Shorebird Populations Rapidly Decline

April 13th, 2017

Populations of some migratory shorebirds are declining by as much as 8 percent per year as mudflats in the Yellow Sea between China and South Korea disappear due to rising sea levels and infrastructure projects, according to new research.

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Proposed Maine bill could lead to beach erosion

April 12th, 2017

A proposed bill allowing towns to bypass state permitting and decide for themselves when to remove ‘large’ amounts of seaweed, will lead towns to unwitingly destabilize their beaches, with grave consequences for the town’s beach and their beach goers – less sand, erosion, and a beach barren of life.

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Gambia: Tourism and the Environment – Tribute to the ‘Unsung Heroes’ Context

April 11th, 2017

Gambia’s tourism industry was bedeviled with a range of menaces including – indiscriminate dumping and littering of our beaches, as well as debasing of our beaches through sand mining and related environmental malpractices to other areas frequented by our coveted guests and tourists. The need to tackle the environmental and sanitary challenges of tourism, head on, therefore became imperative.

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Can permaculture save Togo’s precious coastline from the ravages of sand mining? A Video

April 11th, 2017

African countries are raising alarm because of their disappearing coastlines. Beaches erode mainly because of illegal sand mining. A Swiss foundation wants to help Togo restore its coastline.

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Madras High Court: the saga of illegal beach sand mining drags on

April 11th, 2017

As the saga of illegal beach sand mining drags on in the Madras high court, an interim order has finally called into question the role, or the lack thereof, played by the Centre over two decades in monitoring, curbing and enforcing laws preventing the illegal mining of beach sands from Tamil Nadu’s shores.

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A Close-Up Look at the Catastrophic Bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef

April 10th, 2017

Scientists are reporting the second mass bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef in the last year. In a Yale Environment 360 interview, researcher Terry Hughes says these events have damaged two-thirds of the world’s largest coral reef and are directly caused by global warming.

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Mesmerizing Video Of Hawaii Beach Sand Reveals Unsettling Reality

April 10th, 2017

It’s easy to appreciate the beauty of a beach in Hawaii, with its electric blue waters lapping over a coast of golden sand. But hidden in plain sight is a devastating reality that nonprofit Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii captured in a video.

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