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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

Taste, not appearance, drives corals to eat plastics

News, Pollution
Oct
26

Scientists have long known that marine animals mistakenly eat plastic debris because the tiny bits of floating plastic might look like prey. But a new Duke University study of plastic ingestion by corals suggests there may be an additional reason for the potentially harmful behavior.

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Once-pristine Arctic choking on our plastic addiction

Inform, Pollution
Oct
26

Earlier this year a global team of scientists sounded another alarm, revealing what they called the next major threat to the polar bears’ Arctic habitat: plastic.

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Sea levels to rise 1.3m unless coal power ends by 2050, report says

Coastal cities around the world could be devastated by 1.3m of sea level rise this century unless coal-generated electricity is virtually eliminated by 2050, according to a University of Melbourne new paper that combines the latest understanding of Antarctica’s contribution to sea level rise and the latest emissions projection scenarios.

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6 fascinating facts about coral reefs

Coral reefs are one of the world’s most colorful and diverse ecosystems, and though they cover only about 1 percent of the ocean floor, they have a huge effect on the health of the rest of the world. Healthy coral reefs mean healthy oceans which means healthy planet.

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Rising seas threaten nearly $1 trillion worth of US homes, and most of them are moderately priced

If sea levels were to rise 6 feet, 1.9 million homes, or $916 billion worth of U.S. residential real estate, could be lost, according to a new report.

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Microplastics in the Baltic have not risen for 30 years

News, Pollution
Oct
25

The concentration of microplastics in water and fish from the Baltic Sea has been constant for the past 30 years, despite a substantial increase in plastic production during the same period, report investigators.

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Replacing Miami’s beach sands costs millions. Here’s how Congress intends to make it cheaper

Miami is out of sand. Last year, Miami-Dade County depleted its offshore sand reserves, meaning miles of beaches that shrink from erosion must be replenished with sand from outside South Florida.

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Drones used to map climate change in Zanzibar

In Zanzibar, which is a series of islands off the east coast of Africa, a group is using drones to map the effects of rising sea levels and global temperatures in an effort to combat local climate change.

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At these beaches, you’ll find sand that is naturally green

Inform
Oct
23

Seeing green at the beach is usually reserved for swaying palm trees or seaweed that washes ashore. But there are exactly four beaches in the entire world have remarkable green sand shores.

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Recent / Inform

Drones used to map climate change in Zanzibar

October 24th, 2017

In Zanzibar, which is a series of islands off the east coast of Africa, a group is using drones to map the effects of rising sea levels and global temperatures in an effort to combat local climate change.

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At these beaches, you’ll find sand that is naturally green

October 23rd, 2017

Seeing green at the beach is usually reserved for swaying palm trees or seaweed that washes ashore. But there are exactly four beaches in the entire world have remarkable green sand shores.

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Worldwide change in shallow reef ecosystems predicted as waters warm

October 23rd, 2017

A new study based on the first global survey of marine life by scuba divers has provided fresh insights into how climate change is affecting the distribution of marine life.

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The best beach towns you’ve never heard of

October 22nd, 2017

Not every bucket-list beach has been Instagrammed and developed to death. These are the still-unspoiled stretches of sand to get to before everyone else does.

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Sand mining ravages African beaches

October 21st, 2017

Sand is a natural resource that is more and more exploited. Worldwide, beaches are mined for sand. As many other countries in the world, African States have legislated to better protect their coastal environment, but this did not put an end to illegal beach sand mining and its detrimental effects on the ecosystems.

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A public company attempts to improve the sand market, Algeria

October 21st, 2017

Sand scarcity is one of the main cause of implementation deplays in the construction industry in Algeria. The severity of the sand depletion is such that prices have gone up tenfold during this latest construction boom.

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Prozac in ocean water a possible threat to sea life

October 20th, 2017

Oregon shore crabs exhibit risky behavior when they’re exposed to the antidepressant Prozac, making it easier for predators to catch them, according to a new study from Portland State University (PSU).

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There’s still time to save the Great Barrier Reef from dying

great-barrier-reef

October 18th, 2017

Two major bleaching events have wracked the Great Barrier Reef over the last two years, leaving chunks of it dead.

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Even modest oil exposure can harm coastal and marine birds

October 17th, 2017

Many birds and other wildlife die following an oil spill, but there are also other potential long-terms effects of oil exposure on animals.

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Sand becomes “increasingly scarce and expensive”

October 16th, 2017

A symposium taking place at Dutch Design Week later this month will discuss the rapid depletion of the world’s sand reserves, which could leave supplies of the high-quality sand used in the glass industry exhausted within 20 years.

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