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

World Begins 2014 With Unusual Number Of Extreme Weather Events


UN’s World Meteorological Organisation says recent extremes of heat, cold and rain are almost certainly interlinked.

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Police Arrest 20 Over Illegal Sand Mining Operation in Yavne Dunes

News, Sand Mining

In raids in the Central District police arrested 20 suspects they say made millions running a massive illegal sand mining operation in the Yavne dunes. Illegal sand mining is highly-profitable and for years has been popular in the Lachish district, especially in remote beach areas stretching from Ashkelon to Yavne and beyond.

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Global Forest Watch: Dynamic New Platform to Protect Forests Worldwide


A new website, Global Forest Watch, will allow governments, businesses, civil society and private citizens to monitor near real-time loss and gain in forest cover in every country around the world.

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Coastal Erosion And Fragile Ecosystems In The Mediterranean


A map from the State of the “Mediterranean Marine and Coastal Environment collection 2013.

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Three Years after Fukushima: Tracking Radionuclides in the Pacific Ocean


Scientists have been keeping a close eye on how radionuclides from the Japanese power plant are being transported in the Pacific Ocean since the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant accident in March 2011. In a press conference (February 24th), researchers will discuss results from computer models predicting how cesium-137 is being dispersed in the Pacific Ocean.

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Lost Neighborhoods of the California Coast


Each coastal disaster is followed by the inevitable debates about whether rebuilding is the right decision.

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Think You Can’t Live Without Plastic Bags? Consider This: Rwanda Did It

Inform, Pollution

In 2008, while the rest of the world was barely starting to consider a tax on single-use plastic bags, the small East African nation decided to ban them completely.

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Island Nation Takes On The World’s Polluters


What are the obligations under international law of a State for ensuring that activities under its jurisdiction or control that emit greenhouse gases do not cause, or substantially contribute to, serious damage to another State or States? Vulnerable countries, like Palau, that have not contributed to global warming, pressed this question in front of the ICJ.

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Ten Reasons Why We Need More Contact With Nature

Celebrate, Inform

Researchers have found that regardless of culture people have an inborn affiliation for nature and gravitate to images of nature. We have a human right to a meaningful connection to nature, we have the responsibilities that come with that right, and we have to stop destroying the nature around us.

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Recent / Inform

Sandy Tribute to Nelson Mandela at Odisha’s Puri beach


December 6th, 2013

Sand artist Sudarsan Pattnaik Friday created a sculpture of Nelson Mandela on the Puri beach in Odisha to pay tribute to the anti-apartheid icon.

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Fukushima: WHOI Senior Scientist Studies Irradiated Water


December 5th, 2013

Collecting samples off the coast where the Fukushima nuclear power plant was damaged in a March 2011 earthquake, the WHOI senior scientist measured higher than normal radiation levels long after the original disaster.

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Shell Plans Return To Offshore Drilling In Alaska Next Year


December 5th, 2013

Royal Dutch Shell Plc aims to return to Alaskan offshore drilling next July by deploying an upgraded drillship in the Chukchi Sea, while keeping a newly contracted backup drillship ready if needed, according to plans released on Wednesday.

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New Jersey Shore Likely Faces Unprecedented Flooding by Mid-Century


December 5th, 2013

Geoscientists at Rutgers and Tufts universities estimate that the New Jersey shore will likely experience a sea-level rise of about 1.5 feet by 2050 and of about 3.5 feet by 2100 — 11 to 15 inches higher than the average for sea-level rise globally over the century.

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Microplastics Pose Toxic Threat To Marine Biodiversity


December 4th, 2013

Tiny particles of waste plastic that are ingested by shoreline “eco-engineer” worms may be negatively affecting biodiversity, a study says.

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Humans Threaten Wetlands’ Ability To Keep Pace With Sea-Level Rise


December 4th, 2013

Left to themselves, coastal wetlands can resist rapid levels of sea-level rise. But humans could be sabotaging some of their best defenses.

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Sea Level Rise and Shoreline Changes Are Lead Influences On Floods from Tropical Cyclones


December 4th, 2013

Despite the fact that recent studies have focused on climate change impacts on the intensity and frequency of tropical cyclones themselves, sea level rise and shoreline retreat remain the two more certain factors expected to drive an increase in future flood risk from such storms.

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Imperiled Mussels May be Further Harmed by Climate Change


December 3rd, 2013

Rising water temperatures as a result of climate change may harm already endangered or threatened native freshwater mussels in North America, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey report. Freshwater mussels have been compared to the “canary in the coal mine” in that they are indicators of good water and sediment quality rivers.

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Corona Save The Beach Hotel


December 2nd, 2013

Created by German artist HA Schult, the first hotel made completely out of garbage opened in 2010 in Rome, Italy, and Madrid, Spain. Trash was collected from beaches throughout Europe to build the Corona Save the Beach Hotel.

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The Sounds Of A Warming Planet


December 2nd, 2013

Scientists have recorded and identified one of the most prominent sounds of a warming planet: the sizzle of glacier ice as it melts into the sea.

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