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

The End of the Sand Era


I’ve heard that man’s best friend in not the dog, but reinforced concrete…

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Villagers Thwart Development Plan At Vulnerable Beach Habitat in Turkey


The Çıralı beach zone is a 18,297 m² site along the coast of Antalya Province, Turkey. Çıralı is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, helping draw tourists and foreign residents to the area…

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Rising Seas, National Geographic


Faced with the largest storm ever spawned over the Atlantic, New York and other cities ordered mandatory evacuations of low-lying areas. Not everyone complied. Those who chose to ride out Sandy got a preview of the future, in which a warmer world will lead to inexorably rising seas…

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Sand Scam

News, Sand Mining

Allegations of illegal beach sand mining in southern Tamil Nadu gain considerable strength.

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Oil Industry and Smoke From Residential Burning Speed Arctic Thaw


Gas flaring by the oil industry and smoke from residential burning contributes more black carbon pollution to Arctic than previously thought, potentially speeding the melting of Arctic sea ice.

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Ocean Litter Is Being Ingested By Humans

Inform, Pollution

The plastic peril inflicting our oceans is now so severe humans are ingesting particles of litter, a leading marine expert has warned.

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West African Communities Rally Against Monster Boats


In a statement sent out in Nouakchott, Mauritania, local fishermen called on West African governments to no longer allow mega trawlers into their fisheries because of the profound impact they have on fishstocks, and local livelihoods as a result.

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Slowing The Plunder of Madagascar’s Fish Stocks


The coastline of Madagascar, the world’s fourth largest island, is about 4,800km, providing it with an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of more than 1.2 million square kilometres, but the government has no capacity to patrol, police or monitor its vast maritime asset.

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On California’s Beaches, Mallard Ducks Have Learned to Surf for Food


Mallards, that familiar duck species ubiquitous to park ponds with males parading their emerald-green heads, have picked up a new feeding habit along the beaches of Santa Barbara. These ducks have learned to surf. For sand crabs.

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Recent / Inform

One Flew Over a Beach Sand Mining Pit, Sénégal


July 17th, 2013

An astounding video by l’Institut National de L’Audiovisuel.

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New EU Rules ‘Fail’ Against Shipbreaking Dangers


July 17th, 2013

The European Parliament’s Environment Committee voted last in favour of a proposal aiming to put an end to European ships being recklessly scrapped in developing countries.

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Illegal Beach Sand Mining, Togo, a Video


July 17th, 2013

Despite a recent law prohibiting sand mining on Togo’s beaches, illegal sand mining continue, unabated.

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Facing Tough Times, Barbuda Continues Sand Mining Despite Warnings


July 16th, 2013

Officials are dismissing warnings by environmentalists that sand mining has exceeded safe limits and that its continuation is placing Barbuda, the tiny island in the Antigua and Barbuda union, at ever-greater risk from storms and sea level rise…

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No Deal On Huge Antarctic Marine Reserves


July 16th, 2013

International talks on establishing huge marine reserves in Antarctica have failed to reach a consensus.

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Natural Defences Can Sharply Limit Coastal Damage


July 15th, 2013

Coastal forests, coral reefs, sand dunes, marshes and wetlands are just a few of the natural habitats that protect two-thirds of the US coastline from hazards such as hurricane, and are key to protecting lives and property against storm surges and long-term sea-level rise.

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Nesting Gulf of Mexico Loggerhead Turtles Face Offshore Risks


July 15th, 2013

Evidence from a U.S. Geological Survey study challenges the widely-held view that sea turtles remain near one beach throughout the nesting season and suggests the threatened species may require broader habitat protection to recover.

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Sea levels may rise 2.3 metres per degree of global warming, report says


July 15th, 2013

Seas will remain high for centuries after temperatures have risen, with the likelihood of more frequent and damaging storms…

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Best Opportunity For the Creation of World’s Largest Marine Reserves


July 15th, 2013

The Ross Sea proposal (being put forward by the USA and New Zealand) and the East Antarctica proposal (developed by Australia and France) are highly significant. If agreed they would constitute two major stepping stones towards achieving a circumpolar network of protected areas.

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Round-The-Clock Protest to Check Beach Sand-Mining, Kerala, India


July 14th, 2013

A woman and her three children have been staging a protest in front of the Collectorate since July 11 demanding action against illegal extraction of beach sand from near her home at Puthiyangadi.

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