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

Mining For Smartphones – “Coast, Coral and Community,” A Documentary Series


A remote island of the Indonesian archipelago is being stripped off its forests and dug up for tin used in millions of mobile phones, tablets and laptops. Tin mining is taking its toll on the island’s coastline, damaging mangrove forests that help protect it from tropical storms and big waves.

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Three years after Japan tsunami, suspected debris arrive on Washington shores


Three years after an undersea earthquake and tsunami devastated Japan, the disaster’s aftermath is still being felt in ways large and small, far and wide. On a beach in southern Washington, approximately 4,500 miles across the Pacific Ocean, debris that may be from the tsunami is washing ashore.

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Humpback Whale Strandings In West Australia


An unprecedented number of mostly young whales have become stranded on the West Australian coast since 2008.

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Rules To Cut carbon Emissions: A First-Of-Its-Kind Study


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is slated to release the nation’s first-ever carbon pollution standards for existing power plants on June 2, 2014. Syracuse and Harvard Universities teamed up to analyze how carbon pollution standards for existing power plants will decrease the emission of several co-pollutants, improve local air quality, decrease atmospheric deposition, and benefit people and ecosystems.

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The Evolution of Climate Legislation in Three Infographs


The global canon of climate legislation has undergone significant changes over the last four decades.

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Hurricane Sandy Impacts Did Not Contribute to Subsequent Storm Flooding, A Study


Flooding in coastal areas bordering Great South Bay, N.Y. and Barnegat Bay, N.J. caused by winter storms that occurred following Hurricane Sandy was not influenced by changes Sandy made to barrier islands or other bay features, according to a new USGS Study.

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Kauai Is Called The Garden Island: Here’s Why

Celebrate, Inform

Towards the end of the Hawaiian archipelago lives a small, rainy island called Kauai.

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Life-Giving Deltas Starved by Dams

Erosion, Inform

At a time when coastal areas are already battered by climate change, life-giving deltas are being sacrificed to dam building.

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Fiji Leads Pacific Region on Climate Adaptation Efforts


Still a long way off in many parts of the world, climate displacement is already a reality in the Pacific Islands, where rising seas are contaminating fresh water and agricultural land, and rendering some coastal areas uninhabitable.

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Recent / Inform

Recent Earthquakes in Chile and L.A. Raise Questions About Ring of Fire


April 3rd, 2014

The 8.2 earthquake that shook northern Chile and surrounding countries late Tuesday night was one of a string of recent earthquakes along what is known as the “Ring of Fire,” a circle of quake-prone areas on the Pacific Rim.

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Sand Wars Movie: UK Diffusion April 2nd, 2014


April 2nd, 2014

Sand Wars film documentary by Denis Delestrac, premieres in the United Kingdom 7.50pm, Wednesday 2 April Sky 534 & Virgin Media 243, on PBS America.

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Don’t Ignore Sea Rise


April 1st, 2014

A letter from 99 years old, Howard K. Ammerman.

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Science Is No Excuse For Japan’s Antarctic Whaling, Court Rules


April 1st, 2014

Japan’s hugely controversial ‘scientific whaling’ programme is not actually scientific and must be stopped, the International Court of Justice ruled.

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Parting the Sea to Save Venice


March 30th, 2014

The sea has protected Venice since the fifth century, when people moved to the fish-shaped islands of Rialto for safety from mainland invaders. Over the next thirteen centuries, the seafaring city-state grew in power and strength. But the tide has turned, and the sea that once protected Venice now threatens it.

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Sculptures of Ocean Plastic Raise Awareness for the Sea


March 30th, 2014

Washed up plastics and marine garbage pose a threat to the ecosystems and animal lives they invade, a problem which activists have worked to bring light to in recent years. While news and science are powerful mediums for conveying these messages, the work of artists has also played an important role in the sharing of concern…

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Plane Search Raises Questions About Sea of Floating Junk


March 29th, 2014

The search for debris from missing plane has not turned up any evidence of a crash, but it has trained the world’s gaze on thousands of pieces of junk floating on the ocean’s surface. Researchers only began focusing on plastic pollution in the Indian Ocean in recent years, and in 2010 discovered garbage patches much like the famous Pacific Garbage Patch, according to Coastal Care.

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Chilika Lake and Nalabana Bird Sanctuary


March 29th, 2014

Chilika Lake is the largest lagoon in India and one of the largest in the world.

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Illegal Sand Miners Back In Business


March 29th, 2014

Taking advantage of government officials caught up with election work, the sand mafia has become active with transportation of sand from the Yamuna and Hindon river banks going on unimpeded…

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More Male Fish Feminized By Pollution On Basque Coast, A Study


March 28th, 2014

Evidence of feminization of male fish in the estuaries of Gernika, Arriluze, Santurtzi, Plentzia, Ondarroa, Deba and Pasaia has been discovered. Pollutants acting as estrogens are responsible for this phenomenon.

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