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

Croatan Beach Residents Say too Much Dredging Hurts Shoreline, VA


The dredging main goal is the same as it is every year: to replace sand and build up dunes on a public beach that gets pummeled by storms nearly every winter.

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When You Drill, You Spill.


The Santa Barbara County spill, one of the largest in California history, reiterates what we already know: We can’t extract oil and transport it without putting our beaches, wildlife, and coastal communities at risk. The sad fact is, when you drill, you spill.

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Lough Neagh Unauthorized Sand-Dredging, Ireland

News, Sand Mining

The Department of the Environment will confirm how it intends to deal with the controversial issue of sand dredging in Lough Neagh in the next few days. Sand has been removed from the lough since the 1930s, and is used to supply the construction industry.

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Potential of Seagrass to Combat Climate Change


Seagrass ecosystems could play a key role in combating climate change, researchers have discovered. However, due to their shallow coastal habitat the aquatic plant is particularly prone to human disturbance – globally 24 per cent of seagrass species are now classified as threatened or near threatened.

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Nature Confronts Politics in North Carolina


As local politicians underestimate rising sea levels, coastal communities are coming up with their own plans.

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California Coastal Armoring Report: Managing Coastal Armoring and Climate Change Adaptation in the 21st Century


In response to erosion and storm events, Californians have built seawalls, revetments, and other “coastal armoring” structures along significant portions of California’s coast. Coastal armoring now occupies more than 110 miles, or at least 10 percent, of the overall California coastline. This coastal armoring has diminished California’s beaches and habitat, irreversibly altered bluffs, caused increased erosion to neighboring properties, and marred the natural beauty of the coast.

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California Oil Spill Company Under Local, State and Federal Investigation

News, Pollution

Federal officials are investigating the company at the center of the Santa Barbara oil spill, which has left more than 11 miles of coastline covered with an oil slick…

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U.S. Oil Platform on Fire in Gulf of Mexico

News, Pollution

A small offshore oil platform caught fire in shallow water near the coast of Louisiana on Friday and a sheen was seen in the sea after workers were evacuated, officials said.

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France and Florida Hit Reverse on Sinking Tyres for Artificial Reefs

News, Pollution

Lurking beneath the sparkling waves of the French Riviera resort of Cannes, are tens of thousands of now troublesome scrap tyres, sunk deliberately to boost marine development. While in the Atlantic, Florida officials have resumed raising some of the hundreds of thousands of tires dumped off its shores decades ago during an unsuccessful attempt to create an artificial reef.

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Recent / Inform

Central Govt Halts Jakarta’s $40 Billion Reclamation Project


April 13th, 2015

Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta– home to 10 million people – is sinking into the sea at between 2.9 and 6.7 inches per year. To save the megacity from drowning: a $40 billion land reclamation and sea wall project estimated to take 30 years to complete. However, today, the central government has decided to suspend its implementation as the viability of the project is now questioned.

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11 Quotes About The Ocean That Remind Us To Protect It


April 13th, 2015

While there are infinite reasons to love and respect the ocean, it can sometimes feel like the human race is doing everything in its power to harm it. Here are some quotes that remind us of how precious and delicate a resource the ocean is — and how desperately we need to protect it.

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Great Wall Of Sand: Chinese Mischief at Mischief Reef


April 12th, 2015

In recent years, China has laid claim to the South China Sea with increasing fierceness, challenging the counterclaims of neighboring states and confronting their fishing boats on the open water. But new satellite photos have provided the most dramatic evidence yet of just how aggressively China is acting to establish a sphere of influence in the South China Sea

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Over 240 mining and energy projects waiting for investors in Cuba


April 12th, 2015

Industrial minerals and manufactured industrial mineral products produced in Cuba include ammonia and ammonia by-products, bentonite, cement, feldspar, high-purity zeolite minerals, gypsum, kaolin (a type of clay), lime, high-grade limestone, marble and sand…

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Sand Man Leaves Giant Labyrinth-Like Circles on Santa Cruz Beaches


April 11th, 2015

The pain is circular, which is to say it never goes away, arcing through Brandon Anderton’s body in long, looping waves. A line of shorebirds watches Anderton, moving methodically across the scrim of sand, as he carves a picture of the pain that has brought him back to the beach.

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Land Bridge Linking Americas Rose Earlier Than Thought


April 11th, 2015

There’s new geologic evidence that the narrow Panama land bridge emerged from the sea 12 million to 15 million years ago, much earlier than thought. This early uplift wreaks havoc with prevailing ideas, which suggest this strip of land established itself just 3 million years ago.

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Meet Rajeesh, The Man Who Has To Live With Our Plastic Pollution


April 9th, 2015

Imagine if you were confronted with overwhelming plastic pollution every single day.

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A New Report Lays Bare the Effects of Climate Change on the N.C. Coast


April 9th, 2015

The data are in, and the numbers are unequivocal: the coast of North Carolina, and especially the northern part of the Outer Banks, is sinking into the sea.

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Natural Filters: Mussels Deployed To Clean Up Polluted Waterways


April 8th, 2015

A stream with a healthy population of mussels indicates a pretty pristine habitat and good water quality. Everywhere, however, numbers of mussels are in peril. Everywhere the causes of decline are the same: alteration and damming of streams and rivers, and human-induced runoff of silt and nutrients.

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Why Dangerous Sinkholes Keep Appearing Along the Dead Sea


April 8th, 2015

For millennia, the salty, mineral-rich waters of the Dead Sea have drawn visitors and health pilgrims to its shores. But in recent years, gaping chasms have been opening up without warning along its banks, posing a threat to such visitors and tourism in general.

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