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

Australia: Paraglider Snaps Epic Rip Current Vortex


Anyone who has been caught in a rip current knows how scary it can be, but seen from a unique perspective, (not to mention a safe distance) this one is just awesome.

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Jervis Bay, New South Wales

Celebrate, Inform

The brilliant sands of Jervis Bay owe their color (or lack of it) to the relentless action of water from old rivers, and rising and falling seas over thousands of years. According to the Guinness Book of Records, the sands around Jervis Bay are the whitest in the world. These sands are also finer than typical ocean beach sand.

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Shell Presses Ahead With World’s Deepest Offshore Oil Well


Royal Dutch Shell is pressing ahead with the world’s deepest offshore oil and gas production facility by pushing the boundaries of technology and drilling almost two miles (3.2 km) underwater in the politically sensitive Gulf of Mexico…

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Sand Mined From Pakiri Beach is Irreplaceable, New Zealand


Auckland City’s recreation committee chairman, says a $5 million beach rebuilding plan is gathering momentum. Where, however, does he hope to source the sand for the next eight Auckland beaches requiring replenishment?

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Mercury Pollution Threatens Arctic Foxes


New scientific results show that arctic foxes accumulate dangerous levels of mercury if they live in coastal habitats and feed on prey which lives in the ocean.

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The Black Sea is a Goldmine of Ancient Genetic Data


The semi-isolated Black Sea is highly sensitive to climate driven environmental changes, and the underlying sediments represent high-resolution archives of past continental climate and concurrent hydrologic changes in the basin.

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Seafood Safety and Policy What’s safe to eat? How can we know?


In Japan, a nation that eats prodigious amounts of seafood, one question sits high on the list of public concerns: Is seafood caught after the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe safe for human consumption?

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San Diego-Tijuana Region


The metropolitan areas of San Diego, California, and Tijuana, Baja California, together form an international conurbation that crosses the USA-Mexico border at the northern end of the Baja Peninsula near the city of San Ysidro. The combined population of the region is approximately 5 million according to 2010 census information.

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Arctic Ocean Acidifying Rapidly


The Arctic seas are being made rapidly more acidic by carbon-dioxide emissions, according to a new report, by the scientists from the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP).

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Recent / Inform

Dirty Blizzard in Gulf of Mexico May Account for Missing Deepwater Horizon Oil


March 14th, 2013

Oil from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill acted as a catalyst for plankton and other surface materials to clump together and fall to the sea floor in a massive sedimentation event that researchers are calling a “dirty blizzard.” This phenomenon may explain what happened to some portion of the more than 200 million gallons of spilled oil.

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Two Years On, America Hasn’t Learned Lessons Of Fukushima Nuclear Disaster


March 13th, 2013

With few new nuclear plants being built at present, America’s nuclear infrastructure continues to age and grow increasingly more accident-prone. Many plants are located along rivers or coastlines, where they face dangers from flooding. One hundred and eleven million Americans live within 50 miles of a nuclear plant.

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Increasing Number Of Sea Lion Pups Stranded Along California Coast


March 12th, 2013

An increasing number of California sea lion pups have been stranding along the coast of in Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties. A California marine mammal center has declared a state of a emergency.

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Green versus Gray: Nature’s Solutions To Infrastructure Demands


March 12th, 2013

An emerging hypothesis in environmental management settings is that investment in ecosystem-based green infrastructure solutions provides economically superior environmental quality outcomes when compared to investments in technology-based or “gray” infrastructure.

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Jurong Island Reclamation Works Set for March 15


March 12th, 2013

Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) has informed the shipping, harbour craft and pleasure craft communities in Singapore’s waters that the reclamation of Jurong Island (Phase 4) and construction of jetty off Temasek Fairway will take place from 15 March to 14 August 2013.

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Historic day for shark protection


March 12th, 2013

Three types of critically endangered but commercially valuable shark have been given added protection at the Cites meeting in Bangkok.

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When to Say No


March 12th, 2013

In itself, the Keystone pipeline will not push the world into a climate apocalypse. But it will continue to fuel our appetite for oil and add to the carbon load in the atmosphere. There is no need to accept it.

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Thousands Of Dead Pigs Found Floating In Chinese River


March 11th, 2013

More than 2,800 pig carcasses have been discovered floating in a river that runs through Shanghai and feeds into its tap water supply, according to China’s state media. Pollution has emerged as a source of widespread anger in China.

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Canada’s Arctic Glaciers Headed For Unstoppable Thaw


March 8th, 2013

Canada’s Arctic Archipelago glaciers will melt faster than ever in the next few centuries.

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Analysis: Export Oil, Import Water – the Middle East’s Risky Economics


March 7th, 2013

A recent study of NASA satellite data found that parts of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran along the Tigris and Euphrates river basins had lost 144 cubic kilometres of water from 2003 to 2009, roughly equivalent to the volume of the Dead Sea. With scientist predicting an increase in extreme weather events, adaptability has become increasingly important.

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