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

Warmer Oceans Increase Likelihood Of Toxic Shellfish, Study Finds

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

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

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

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

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

News, Sand Mining
Apr
11

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

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

Inform, Pollution
Apr
10

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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Logging threatens breeding turtles

Debris on beaches caused by logging activity in tropical forests is threatening the survival of hatchling leatherback turtles and the success of mothers at one of the world’s most important nesting sites in Colombia…

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Recent / Inform

Logging threatens breeding turtles

April 10th, 2017

Debris on beaches caused by logging activity in tropical forests is threatening the survival of hatchling leatherback turtles and the success of mothers at one of the world’s most important nesting sites in Colombia…

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Bills would ease rules on sandbags, pumping sand from shoals; NC

April 8th, 2017

The Senate and House are finalizing another set of enviromental regulations, including one that loosens rules on sandbag walls and another that would allow using sand from Diamond Shoals for beach nourishment without testing it first.

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Miami’s fight against rising seas

April 8th, 2017

In the battle against rising seas, Florida – which has more to lose than almost anywhere else in the world – is becoming ground zero.

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Plan Streamlines Re-Nourishment Permitting; North Carolina

April 7th, 2017

A program designed to cut more than three months from the review process for certain beach re-nourishment projects will soon be unveiled.

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New study links carbon pollution to extreme weather

April 7th, 2017

Human activities are altering the jet stream, which leads to extreme weather patterns getting stuck in place.

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Plants have been helping to offset climate change, but now it’s up to us

April 6th, 2017

Plants are currently removing more carbon dioxide from the air than they did 200 years ago, according to new work. This team’s findings affirm estimates used in models from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

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Thirsty mangroves cause unprecedented dieback; Australia’s northern coast

April 6th, 2017

Scientists have discovered why, in early 2016, there was an unprecedented dieback of 7400 hectares of mangroves, which stretched for 1000 kilometres along the Gulf of Carpentaria – the plants died of thirst.

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Plastic No More, Also in Kenya

April 5th, 2017

Kenya has just joined the commitment of other 10 countries to address major plastic pollution by decreeing a ban on the use, manufacture and import of all plastic bags, to take effect in six months.

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Let’s end war with ocean, Op-Ed by Orrin H. Pilkey

April 5th, 2017

The immediate future most certainly holds more miles of sandbags, resulting in more narrowed and ugly beaches.But this trend can be halted and reversed. Now is the time to make peace with the ocean.The time is now to stop sandbagging, both physically with no more shore-hardening structures, and politically with no more exceptions to the intent of the rules, no more undermining existing legislation, and a return to enforcement.

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Over 9 million metric tonnes of beach sand was illegally mined, Tamil Nadu

April 5th, 2017

Despite a ban on mining of beach sand since 2013, illicit mining and transportation of beach sand continued on a massive scale. A court filing reports that in 2013, over 90 lakh tonnes (9 million metric tonnes) of beach sand had been mined from 2 districts located at the southernmost tip of peninsular India, in Tamil Nadu State.

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