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

Satellite Photos Show One Of The World’s Largest Lakes Disappearing

aral-sea

Satellite images from NASA show that over the last 14 years, one of the world’s largest inland bodies of water, the Aral Sea in Central Asia, has almost completely dried up and disappeared.

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Mafia Mixes Riverbed Sand With Beach Sand, Andhra Pradesh, India

sand-mining-mumbai
News, Sand Mining
Sep
29

Sand mafia is now mixing up the beach sand with riverbed sand for construction activity in the city due to scarcity. Though the practice exists in the city for sometime on the outskirts, it has become rampant with shortage of sand.

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Breaking Bad on the Beach

shipwreck
Inform, Pollution
Sep
28

Tens of thousands of ships ply the world’s oceans, bays, and rivers. But what happens when those ships have become too old or too expensive to operate? In most cases, they end up on the shores of Asia…literally.

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Palmyra Atoll Pictures: Part of the World’s Largest Marine Reserve

palmyra-atoll-mantas
Celebrate, Inform
Sep
27

Palmyra Atoll, a refuge for seabird breeding colonies and coral reef communities, is part of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. The national monument received a big boost this week, when U.S. President Obama announced he was expanding its borders, turning the remote area into the world’s largest marine reserve.

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Hurricane Sandy ‘s Silver Lining, A National Geographic Video

post-sandy-fire-island

A breach torn through New York’s Fire Island by Hurricane Sandy is bringing new life in to a long-polluted ecosystem. A National Geographic video.

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Recreational Activity A Major Pollutant On Canadian Coast Of Pacific Ocean

vancouver-canada
Inform, Pollution
Sep
26

From recreational boats and fishing vessels to commercial cruise ships and private marinas, a newly published study shows that oil discharges related to human maritime activity on the Canadian coast are posing a major threat to marine ecosystems in the Pacific Ocean.

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Côte d’Ivoire Chokes on its Plastic Shopping Bags

plastic-bag-rwanda
News, Pollution
Sep
26

Each year, Côte d’Ivoire produces 200,000 tonnes of plastic bags of which 40,000 go directly into the trash. Less than 20 percent of this plastic is recycled. In this West African nation, the pressure is growing to find alternatives to plastic shopping bags.

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Toxins From Plastic Pollution Impacting Health Of Seabirds

plastic-pollution-coastal-care-seabird
News, Pollution
Sep
25

Plastic pollution is having a greater impact on seabirds than previously thought, scientists say.

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Expanded US Ocean Preserve to Be World’s Largest

coral-coastal-care-polynesia

Thousands of miles off America’s shores, an ocean preserve flush with rare seabirds, turtles and marine mammals will grow to roughly three times the size of California under a memorandum that President Barack Obama signed today.

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Recent / Inform

Kenya Launches Giant Lamu Port Construction Project

Lamu-kenya

August 4th, 2014

A Chinese firm, China Communication Construction Company, has signed a $478.9 million deal to construct three berths at Kenyan Indian Ocean port of Lamu. The port, at completion, will have 32 berths. The project involves dredging shallow inland channels and felling shoreline-stabilizing mangrove forests.

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Atlantic Warming Turbocharges Pacific Trade Winds

winwards-islands-pacific

August 4th, 2014

Rapid warming of the Atlantic Ocean, likely caused by global warming, has turbocharged Pacific Equatorial trade winds. This has caused eastern tropical Pacific cooling, amplified the Californian drought, accelerated sea level rise three times faster than the global average in the Western Pacific…

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Arctic Melt Pond

arctic-melt-pond-nasa

August 3rd, 2014

From above, Arctic ice looks quite different in summer than it does in winter. As temperatures rise in the summer, turquoise splotches of color begin to speckle the ice surfaces. The splashes of blue are melt ponds, areas where snow has melted and pooled in low spots on glaciers and sea ice.

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Why Restoring Wetlands Is More Critical Than Ever

marsh

August 2nd, 2014

Along the Delaware River estuary, efforts are underway to restore wetlands lost due to centuries of human activity. With sea levels rising, coastal communities there and and elsewhere in the U.S. and Europe are realizing the value of wetlands as important buffers against flooding and tidal surges.

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Science Panel Works To Update Sea-Level Rise Report, NC

coastal-erosion-north-carolina

August 1st, 2014

A NC state-appointed science panel began work last week on an update to a controversial sea-level rise report, members of the panel said Thursday at a meeting of the Coastal Resources Commission.

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Thousands Of Blue Sea Creatures Called Velella Velellas Wash Ashore In California

velella

July 31st, 2014

The jellyfish-like invertebrates rarely washe ashore before the end of their lifespan. So when thousands of the tiny blue sea creatures recently turned up, en masse, on beaches in central California, many were surprised to see such a large amount of the beached marine life.

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Plastic, Poverty And Pollution In China’s Recycling Dead Zone

china-garbage-recycling

July 31st, 2014

Adam Minter, Bloomberg’s Shanghai correspondent, visited Wen’an, once at the heart of the global scrap plastic trade. In a never-before published extract from his book, “Junkyard Planet: Travels in the Billion-Dollar Trash Trade,” he describes the effects on workers’ health, and pollution incurred.

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10 Hidden Beaches, Bays And Walks On The UK Coastline

duddon-uk

July 31st, 2014

The British coast is dotted with magical spots few people visit or even know about. Here are 10 of the best.

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Huge Waves Measured For First Time in Arctic Ocean

wave-ice-iceland

July 30th, 2014

A University of Washington researcher made the first study of waves in the middle of the Arctic Ocean, and detected house-sized waves during a September 2012 storm.

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Hawaii: Climate Wipeout

hawaii

July 30th, 2014

A new video series that depicts Americans living on the front lines of climate change zooms in on one of our favorite vacation spots.

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