Inform

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

Rapa Nui’s Stone Statues and Marine Resources Face Threats from Climate Change

On this island in the Polynesia region of the Pacific Ocean, 3,800 kilometers from the coast of Chile, to which it belongs, the effects of climate change are already evident.

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Ecosystem changes following loss of great white sharks

A new study has documented unexpected consequences following the decline of great white sharks from an area off South Africa. The study found that the disappearance of great whites has led to the emergence of sevengill sharks, a top predator from a different habitat.

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Great Barrier Reef hit by ‘extraordinarily large’ muddy flood plume

great-barrier-reef
News, Pollution
Feb
14

Massive plumes of polluted floodwater spanning the entire coast of north-east Queensland are encroaching on the outer reaches of the Great Barrier Reef, sparking a fresh threat to the beleaguered natural wonder.

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Sand from glacial melt could be Greenland’s economic salvation?

As climate change melts Greenland’s glaciers and deposits more river sediment on its shores, an international group of researchers has identified one unforeseen economic opportunity for the Arctic nation: exporting excess sand and gravel abroad, where raw materials for infrastructure are in high demand.

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Myanmar: “Our land is collapsing around us”: population and environment at risk from rampant sand mining

News, Sand Mining
Feb
11

Irresponsible sand mining in the Ayeyarwady River is destroying the livelihoods of farmers and fishers and placing environmental stress on the nation’s rice bowl.

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Key West bans some sunscreens to protect coral reefs

Officials in Key West ave decided to ban the sale of sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate, blamed for harming the only living coral reef found in the continental US.

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The hidden environmental toll of mining the World’s sand

Sand mining is the world’s largest mining endeavor, responsible for 85 percent of all mineral extraction. It is also the least regulated, and quite possibly the most corrupt and environmentally destructive.

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From paradise to landfill: beloved California beach covered in trash

News, Pollution
Feb
8

After a trio of winter storms dropped inches of rain on the area, the beach looked more like a landfill than a pristine paradise. That’s because Seal Beach lies at the mouth of the San Gabriel river, which drains runoff from more than 50 cities in the Los Angeles river basin.

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Q&A: The Nature of Value vs the Value of Nature

Humans have long had a varied and complicated relationship with nature—from its aesthetic value to its economic value to its protective value. What if you could measure and analyse these values? One group is trying to do just that.

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Recent / Inform

From paradise to landfill: beloved California beach covered in trash

February 8th, 2019

After a trio of winter storms dropped inches of rain on the area, the beach looked more like a landfill than a pristine paradise. That’s because Seal Beach lies at the mouth of the San Gabriel river, which drains runoff from more than 50 cities in the Los Angeles river basin.

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Q&A: The Nature of Value vs the Value of Nature

February 7th, 2019

Humans have long had a varied and complicated relationship with nature—from its aesthetic value to its economic value to its protective value. What if you could measure and analyse these values? One group is trying to do just that.

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Bulgarians decry ‘eco vandalism’ on coast

February 6th, 2019

After pictures emerged on social media earlier this month of a giant sand dune being bulldozed, there’s been an angry reaction among eco activists and the general public.

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Study reveals island formation a key driver of penguin speciation

February 5th, 2019

Ever since Darwin first set foot on the Galapagos, evolutionary biologists have long known that the geographic isolation of archipelagos has helped spur the formation of new species. Now, an international research team has found the first compelling evidence that modern penguin diversity is driven by islands, despite spending the majority of their lives at sea.

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Sea rise along South Carolina coast accelerating faster than realized, researcher says

February 4th, 2019

Within 50 years, the sea off Charleston will be rising about one inch every five years — twice as fast as it was rising about a century ago and one-third faster than it was in 2000.

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What is the polar vortex – and how is it linked to climate change?

February 3rd, 2019

The polar vortex has broken into ‘two swirling blobs of cold air’, bringing the most frigid conditions in decades to the midwest

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Factors in ‘alarming rate’ of cold-stranded sea turtles in Cape Cod Bay

February 2nd, 2019

A recent study looked into what variables are most important in predicting the number of cold-stunning and stranding events among juvenile Kemp’s ridley sea turtles in Cape Cod Bay.

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Huge Cavity in Antarctic Glacier Signals Rapid Decay

February 2nd, 2019

A gigantic cavity – two-thirds the area of Manhattan and almost 1,000 feet (300 meters) tall – growing at the bottom of Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica is one of several disturbing discoveries reported in a new NASA-led study of the disintegrating glacier.

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Mussels lose grip when exposed to microplastics – study

January 31st, 2019

Researchers say effects will be felt beyond molluscs as reefs shelter other marine life

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A Pragmatic Shift Needed, to Deliver the Potential of Blue Economy

January 29th, 2019

It’s estimated that 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered by water. Unfortunately, our water resources are under serious threats attributable to uncontrolled human activities that are severely impacting livelihoods and the ecosystem.

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