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

Great Barrier Reef Corals Eat Plastic

coral-plastic-pollution-coastalcare
News, Pollution
Feb
27

Researchers in Australia have found that corals commonly found on the Great Barrier Reef will eat micro-plastic pollution. Microplastics are tiny fragments of plastic in the environment and are a widespread contaminant in marine ecosystems, particularly in inshore coral reefs.

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Natural Disasters in Asia and Pacific Impact 80 Million People, Cost 60 Billion Dollars, in 2014

haiyan-typhoon
Inform
Feb
27

More than half of the world’s 226 natural disasters occurred in the Asia and Pacific region last year.

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Freakish Weather on Both US Coasts is Related

hudson-river-frozen

The plight of East Coasters may seem distant to Californians fretting over the latest predictions for a toasty, dry March that would almost certainly extend the devastating drought from three years to four. But, climate scientists say, the sometimes freakish weather abnormalities are two parts of a whole.

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Xboundary: a Film about Extreme Pollution Risks by Open-Pit Mining in British Columbia and Threats to Wildlife and Economy

xboundary-reg

An open-pit mining boom is underway in northern British Columbia, Canada. The massive size and location of the mines — at the headwaters of major salmon rivers that flow across the border into Alaska — has Alaskans concerned over pollution risks… These concerns were heightened with the August 4, 2014 catastrophic tailings dam failure at nearby Mount Polley Mine in B.C.’s Fraser River watershed.

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Giant Waves Around the World

wave-sumba
Inform
Feb
26

A CBS slideshow.

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Artificial Reef Enhancement Underway, North Carolina

oyster-reef-conservation

Over the next couple months, more than 2 million tons of concrete material will be dropped over local artificial reefs, providing habitat for ocean life on barren stretches of the sea floor.

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Tasmania Bans Fracking for Another Five Years

tasmania-abegg

The Tasmanian government will extend its ban on fracking for five years to protect the state’s agricultural industry.

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Shellfish Face High Risk From Ocean Acidification, New Study Finds

shells-coastal-care

As oceans become more acidic, the US shellfish business is facing high economic risk in 15 out of 23 coastal states; Massachusetts tops the list of states facing the highest risk, the study concluded.

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Mysterious East Coast Flooding Caused by Weird Wind Patterns

ny-east-coast

Mysterious flooding and high tides along the East Coast in 2009 and 2010 now have an explanation: a major change in the Atlantic Ocean’s wind patterns and warm-water currents.

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Recent / Inform

Progreso’s Prolonged Pier, Yucatan

progreso-pier

January 4th, 2015

The pier that extends from Progreso into the Gulf of Mexico is among the longest such structures in the world. Despite its arches, the structure as a whole has likely decreased the amount of sediment transported alongshore, leading to updrift accretion and downdraft erosion.

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Confusion Over Enforcing Smoking Bans on Queensland Beaches

cigarette-sand

January 3rd, 2015

It’s been illegal for years, but actually enforcing smoking bans on Queensland beaches seems a bit of a drag.

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Erosion Creates Dangerous Situation on Waikiki Beach

waikiki-beach-renourishment

January 3rd, 2015

Over the past several months severe erosion has caused a concrete slab near the water’s edge at Kuhio Beach to become exposed. Beach erosion in Waikiki has been a problem for decades and has resulted in at least 10 sand replenishment projects since 1939. 300,000 cubic yards of sand has been placed onto Waikiki Beach over the past 77 years.

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Are Ocean Asteroid Impacts Really a Serious Threat?

dinosaur-footprints

January 3rd, 2015

If a space rock were to hit the Earth at just the right location in the oceans, it could cause massive waves that could inundate coastlines, a new computer simulation suggests.

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Saving the Colorado River Delta, One Habitat at a Time

colorado-delta-arid

January 2nd, 2015

A trickle of water is being returned to a few parts of the dried-out delta—and those parts are blooming. Thanks to a bi-national agreement, a “pulse flow” of water eventually made its way to the sea, the first time the Colorado River reached the Gulf of California in years.

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Belize’s ‘Blue Hole’ May Help Solve Mystery Of Maya Downfall

great-blue-hole-belize

January 1st, 2015

Researchers from Rice University and Louisiana State University think they may be one step closer to cracking the mystery of the ancient Maya civilization’s collapse around 900 A.D, thanks in part to evidence from the “Great Blue Hole,” the massive sinkhole located in the Caribbean Sea off the coast of Belize.

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Ten Years After Indonesian Tsunami, Are Coasts Any Safer?

tsunami-sign

December 30th, 2014

It is impossible to predict exactly when or where the next major tsunami will occur. Future tsunami disasters are inevitable, but with better technology, education and governance we can realistically hope that a loss of life on the scale of the 2004 tsunami disaster will not happen again.

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Leaves Versus Tides

salt-marsh

December 29th, 2014

Salt marshes are the unsung heroes of coastal flood protection. These flat expanses of wild plants grow in muddy channels and creeks, flooded and drained by the tides. Only special types of plants can tolerate this briny environment.

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Illegal Sand Mining in South Africa, a Report

sand-mining-south-africa-denis-delestrac

December 28th, 2014

Natural sand from estuary and coastal land is one of South Africa’s most valuable resources. However, there has recently been a drastic increase in uncontrolled and unauthorised sand mining activities in rivers, valleys and estuaries throughout the country.

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Nicaragua Defies Canal Protests

lake-nicaragua

December 27th, 2014

Nicaragua has great expectations for the Grand Canal, a US$50-billion, 5-year project to link its Caribbean and Pacific coasts with a 280-kilometre waterway. But the plan has attracted protests from residents along the proposed route and from scientists around the world.

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