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

Hands Across The Sand, Miami 2013

hands-across-the-sand
News, Pollution
May
19

On Saturday, weekend beach-goers and environmental activists joined hands along Miami Beach to take a stand against the U.S. dependence on oil and to promote clean energy resources.

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The Making of The Hyogo2 Disaster Prevention Treaty

2004-tsunami-1
Inform
May
19

A month after the Indian Ocean tsunami struck in December 2004, affecting millions, 168 countries signed on to a 10-year plan to make the world safer from natural hazards (HFA). While the HFA has helped countries reduce the loss of human lives, the economic consequences of natural disasters have continued to rise. For three consecutive years, natural hazards have cost the world more than US$100 billion a year.

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Ruling Favors Rebuilding Septic Systems on Beach

beach-septic-tank-nc

A line of decrepit cottages along what was once Seagull Drive in South Nags Head has stood for more than three years as testimony to long-running legal battles between the state, the town and property owners.

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Coastal Erosion, Senegal

st-louis-senegal-erosion

In the Senegalese town of Saint Louis, rising sea levels means that every year the sea gets closer to peoples homes and it is now just a matter of when, not if, their houses are swept away.

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Melting Glaciers Cause One-Third of Sea-Level Rise

patagonia-glacier

The world’s glaciers lost 260 gigatons of water each year between 2003 and 2009, making these rivers of ice responsible for almost a third of sea-level rise in that time, new research finds.

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Earth’s Mantle Affects Sea Level Rise Estimates

earth-mantle

Scientists have to be careful when looking at Earth for evidence of past sea level changes from the planet’s cycles of glacial advance and retreat.

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10 Million Pounds of Trash Removed from Waterways, Coasts, Beaches: 2013 ICC Data

beach-clean-up
News, Pollution
May
15

For nearly three decades, Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) has mobilized millions of people in the world’s largest volunteer effort for our ocean, coasts and waterways. Volunteers pulled 10 million lbs. of trash, equivalent to the weight of 41 blue whales, from 17,719 miles (28,516 kilometers) of global waterways and beaches…

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Research Helps Paint Finer Picture of Massive 1700 Earthquake and Tsunami

tsunami-flooding-usgs
Inform
May
15

Researchers’ work provides a finer-grained portrait of a 1700 massive earthquake that struck the west coast of North America, and the changes in coastal land level it produced, enabling modelers to better prepare for future events.

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BUEI exhibit a stark warning of ocean’s plastic pollution

plastic-pollution-plastic-debris
Inform, Pollution
May
13

Judie Clee’s collection of flotsam and jetsam that has washed up on Bermuda’s beaches is as amazing as it is disturbing.

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Recent / Inform

Katrina-Like Storm Surges Could Become Norm

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March 19th, 2013

Last year’s devastating flooding in New York City from Hurricane Sandy was the city’s largest storm surge on record. Though Hurricane Sandy was considered a 100-year-event, a storm that lashes a region only once a century, a new study finds global warming could bring similar destructive storm surges to the Gulf and East Coasts of the United States every other year before 2100.

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Antarctic’s First-Ever Whale Skeleton Found

benontherun

March 19th, 2013

For the first time ever, scientists say they have discovered a whale skeleton on the ocean floor near Antarctica. Though whales naturally sink to the ocean floor when they die, it’s extremely rare for scientists to come across these final resting places, known as “whale falls.”

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Significant Contribution of Greenland’s Peripheral Glaciers to Sea-Level Rise

melting-glacier-greenland

March 18th, 2013

Glaciers at the edge of Greenland which are not connected to its huge ice sheet, or can be clearly separated from it, are contributing to sea-level rise much more than previously thought.

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Patagonia’s New Marine Parks, In Pictures

argentina-patagonia-coast

March 16th, 2013

The National Congress of Argentina has recently created two new marine protected areas, the Pingüino Coastal Marine Park and Makenke Coastal Marine Park.

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Hunting High Sea Levels in South Africa

south-africa-durban

March 16th, 2013

Along the coast of South Africa, researchers explore ancient rock formations dating to a period about 120,000 years ago when the earth was warmer and sea level was higher than today, trying to find clues and determine just how high the oceans might rise in a warmer world.

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Pollution Kills Thousands of Fish in Brazil

rio-brazil

March 15th, 2013

Thousands of fish have been removed from the Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon in Rio de Janeiro, after oxygen levels dropped due to pollution, according to local media.

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Tallying natural disaster-related losses

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March 15th, 2013

For three consecutive years, natural hazards have cost the world more than US$100 billion a year, according to new data from the Brussels-based Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED), released in Geneva.

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Mass Strandings of Pilot Whales: A Study

beached-pilot-whales

March 14th, 2013

Biologists since Aristotle have puzzled over the reasons for mass strandings of whales and dolphins, in which groups of up to several hundred individuals drive themselves up onto a beach…

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Sustainable Management of Surfing Breaks, A Study

surfing

March 14th, 2013

Despite their large numbers worldwide, surfers as a coastal interest group have largely been ignored during coastal management decision making. Surfers are, however, increasingly being considered in coastal management decisions as the social, economic, and environmental benefits of high-quality surfing breaks are realized.

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

tar-ball-bp-oil-spill

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