Category Archives: Celebrate

Sullie Saves the Seas

Sullie Saves the Seas

A book by By Goffinet McLaren

Published by Prose Press

Sullie Saves the Seas by Goffinet McLaren is a fun and educational little paperback for children that explores the human extremes of caring and indifference as a small group of dedicated birds battle to preserve our oceans.

When McLaren’s super-hero, Sullie, realized plastic pollution is destroying his precious Turtle Beach, he calls his friends to action. Sullie, the leader, forms a Secret Society with Speedy the Sandpiper, Plonkie the Pelican, Eddo the Eager Eagle, and Allo the Albatross. Together, this charming cast of characters creates a fun-filled, exciting adventure that takes aim ath the insensitive humans causing environmental damage to the beach, and to Sullie’s ocean pals.

Chapter by chapter, Sullie’s clever plot unfolds to deliver a delightful tale you will enjoy sharing with your children and friends. The story targets kids from eight to twelve years old, but kids of all ages will laugh with, learn from, and love a savvy seagull’s schemes to save his ocean.

The story is dedicated to all the sea birds, whales, dolphins, seals, and turtles that have lost their lives to plastic pollution…

About the authors:
Goffinet grew up in a small town in Northern Ireland. Surrounded by the sea, she was always aware of the importance of caring for the ocean’s creatures and her sense of right and wrong ripened into a positive passion to make a difference in the world.

With a Forward by Caption Charles Moore, discoverer of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and founder, Algalita Marine Research Institute.

Order available now at:, and in local bookstores

Sullie Saves the Seas is recommended by the following (endorsements on back cover):
5 Gyres Institute, Sierra Club, PETA, Plastic Pollution Coalition, S. C. Coastal Conservation League, and the Algalita Marine Research Institute.

The Beach Book: Science of the Shore

The Beach Book: Science of the Shore

by Carl H. Hobbs

Published by Columbia University Press

Waves and tides, wind and storms, sea-level rise and shore erosion: these are the forces that shape our beaches, and beach lovers of all stripes can benefit from learning more about how these coastal processes work. With animation and clarity, The Beach Book tells sunbathers why beaches widen and narrow, and helps boaters and anglers understand why tidal inlets migrate.

It gives home buyers insight into erosion rates and provides natural-resource managers and interested citizens with rich information on beach nourishment and coastal-zone development. And for all of us concerned about the long-term health of our beaches, it outlines the latest scientific information on sea-level rise and introduces ways to combat not only the erosion of beaches but also the decline of other coastal habitats.

The more we learn about coastline formation and maintenance, Carl Hobbs argues, the better we can appreciate and cultivate our shores. Informed by the latest research and infused with a passion for its subject, The Beach Book provides a wide-ranging introduction to the shore, and all of us who love the beach and its associated environments will find it timely and useful.

About the author:
Carl H. Hobbs is a professor of marine science at Virginia Institute of Marine Science at the College of William & Mary. His research interests include coastal geology and processes, the geologic history of the Chesapeake Bay and the surrounding region, marine archaeology, and the environmental consequences of marine sand mining and beach nourishment. Additionally, with colleagues from the Center for Archaeological Research and the Department of Geology at William & Mary, he has investigated physical changes to Jamestown Island that have occurred since the beginning of the Holocene, when humans first inhabited the region.

Order available now at: Columbia University Press

Interview with Carl H. Hobbs

Author of The Beach Book: Science of the Shore

Published by Columbia University Press, 2012.

In the following interview Carl Hobbs, author of The Beach Book: Science of the Shore, answers questions such as How many grains of sand are there on the beach? How will climate change affect beaches? Can beaches be “renourished”? and What explains the difference in sand color?

Question: Why did you write The Beach Book: Science of the Shore?

Answer—Carl Hobbs: I think that the more we understand something the more we appreciate it, and the more we like something the more we want to know about it. The Beach Book can help readers develop a broader perspective by understanding why a beach “works,” and how individual pieces come together to constitute the beach. I also wrote The Beach Book to answer some of the questions that I’ve been asked throughout my career.

Q:Such as?

A: Where does sand come from? Every grain of sand on the beach was eroded from somewhere and moved to the shore. The erosion can be the result of the fragmentation of larger rocks caused by water freezing and expanding, by abrasion as small pieces break off a larger piece, or by the slow chemical weathering of more soluble minerals of a rock so that the more resistant sand grains are released.

Q:When I go to the beach in the spring, there isn’t much sand and it is narrow but when I return later in the summer, there is a lot of sand and the beach is wide. What happens?

A: Assuming that we’re just dealing with natural processes, that the beach had not been artificially “nourished” with sand from elsewhere, you’re seeing the normal cycle of beach growth. The low waves that occur between storms interact with the bottom in a way that moves sand toward the shore. The process builds a sand bar that parallels the shore and moves toward it. If there are no storms, the bar or ridge reaches and climbs up the front of the beach making it wider. Depending on local circumstances, this can take place in a few days, or it might take a couple of weeks, and it can happen over and over again making the beach even wider.

However the waves that accompany a storm such as a nor’easter have enough energy to rip sand from the beach and move it both along the shoreline and off shore. In a few hours a strong storm can erode a lot of sand. This is especially true if the storm occurs around the time of high tide. As soon as the storm abates, the building process starts again.

Q: You mentioned beach nourishment. Does it work?

A: It depends. Putting a lot of sand on a beach can be a good way to maintain a beach in some locations and can be something that should be avoided in others. Moreover, artificial nourishment is not a one-time fix and since it is being used to restore a beach that has lost sand through time, it stands to reason that the new sand will erode as well. One problem is the difficulty of estimating how long it will be until the area needs to be renourished. If the beach is hit by a hurricane, all of the just-placed sand might be lost over a short time. But if the area escapes severe storms for a few years, the nourishment might last five or ten years.

Q: What are other factors in determining renourishment projects?

A: There is also the question of economics: does the beach economy bring in enough money to justify the expense of the nourishment project? There probably is not an economic justification for nourishing a beach in an undeveloped, natural area, but maintaining the beach in front of the boardwalk of a developed tourist destination might be a necessity. Without a full, attractive beach, tourists are less likely to visit and the hotels, restaurants, t-shirt shops, and other businesses would lose business and the local economy would lose jobs and tax revenues.

Q: I’ve heard that nourishment projects can use huge amounts of sand – tens or hundreds of thousands of cubic yards or more. This begs the question: how many grains of sand are there in a beach?

A: A lot. Let’s start small and move up from there. If we take ball bearings that are 1 mm in diameter, the size of coarse sand, and put them in a line, ten of them will extend 1 cm. So if we fill a square 1 cm on a side, it’ll take 100 of the grains to cover. And if we make that square 1 cm tall, a volume of a cubic centimeter or a milliliter, it will take 1,000 grains to fill it. And lining the grains up in straight lines is not an efficient way to pack them together. It takes a thousand of the centimeter cubes to fill a one liter bottle, a million grains!

Now, let’s think of a fine-grained sand, as often is found around the Gulf of Mexico. Fine-grained sand can be 1/8th of a mm in diameter. It takes 80 grains to make a line 1 cm long. So the 1 cm cube would contain 80 times 80 times 80 or 512 thousand grains. The 1 liter bottle would contain a thousand times that, or 512 million grains.

A single cubic meter contains a million cubic centimeters (100 times 100 times 100). So would contain 512 billion grains. And a beach can easily contain hundreds of thousands of cubic yards of material. All in all, more grains than I want to count.

Q: At some beaches the sand is tan or almost white. At others there are patches of dark, nearly black, sand, and others are mostly dark. Why?

A: The mineralogy of the sand grains. The clean, white-tan sands consist mostly of the minerals quartz and feldspar. On the East Coast, south of Cape Hatteras, some of the light-colored sand comes from the shells of very small marine animals or sand-sized pieces of carbonate from offshore reefs or pulverized shells. The carbonate sands in Bermuda are known for their pinkish hue. The dark sands are what geologists call “heavy minerals.” The specific mineral depends upon what was available to the beach. In some parts of New England, the dark mineral is the purplish-red of garnet. In other areas magnetite – which, by the way you can collect it with a magnet –accumulates on the beach. Titanium is a component of some heavy minerals such as ilmenite. Many of the minerals associated with volcanoes are heavy and dark which explains the black sands of some of Hawaii’s beaches. In some places the minerals have economic value and the deposits have be collected (mined) for that reason.

Q: Why do some storms cause a lot of erosion while others barely seem to touch the beach?

A: Several factors work together to determine how much damage a storm will cause. Obviously the strength of the storm plays an important role. The frequency of storms makes a difference too. A single, small storm might cause a little erosion, but if other storms occur before the beach has had a chance to rebuild, the successive storms will do more and more damage. The relationship between the time the storm hits the shore and the tide is important too. A fast-moving storm that occurs during the time of low tide will have a diminished effect but a storm around the time of high tide or, will be more damaging. The high water that accompanies a storm, the storm surge, adds to the normal level of the tide. If the surge is at its peak during low tide, the water level might not be any higher than it would be at a normal high tide. But if the peak of the surge coincides with high tide, the elevated water level, in addition to flooding a large area, allows waves to reach farther inland where they can do more damage. A storm that lasts through two or more high tides will have more even more time to effect the shore.

The path of a storm such as a hurricane in relation to the shoreline is another factor. Storms that move parallel to the coast do not blast one area for a long time. But if the storm comes straight at the shore, the narrow zone ahead of and just to the right of the eye really gets slammed. This is what caused a lot of the anxiety last year as Hurricane Irene worked up the mid-Atlantic coast.

Q: If the elevated water level of a storm surge increases erosion, how about sea-level rise and climate change?

A: Sea-level rise is one result of climate change. Individual sections of the shore respond to the changes in the local sea level. In general, an increase in water level will contribute to shoreline erosion.

While there is an average, worldwide rate of sea-level rise, local subsidence or uplift can make a real differences. In some places where the land is rising, the local, or relative, sea level falls. But in areas of subsidence where the land is sinking, the rate of rise is faster than the average. There is subsidence from New Jersey south through North Carolina and in the Gulf Coast around the Mississippi Delta. If the rate of rise is not too fast, the beach will move landward, and will threaten or consume the shore-front houses and roads. Where there is a substantial sea wall, the beach will not be able to roll landward. When waves hit a sea wall, they erode the beach and this will happen more often as the high water level will bring the wave to the wall more frequently. With an even faster rate of rise, the barrier islands will flood from behind as well erode on the front and would be at risk of disappearing.

More broadly, from what I’ve read, climate change is like to cause hurricanes to be stronger but, perhaps, not more numerous. Stronger hurricanes coupled with higher sea level will lead to more erosion. We’re already seeing the range of some plants shift northward with the warming climate.

Eco-Art Coastal Reclamation Project

Virginia Key Beach. Photo source: ©© Marc Averette


Volunteers planted mangrove seedlings on Virginia Key, getting down and dirty for an Eco-Art project that aims to raise environmental awareness.

That sense of happy engagement with nature is exactly what Eco-Art coastal Reclamation Project effort was. It drew approximately 100 volunteer students, parents and teachers, learning about nature and environmental sustainability first-hand by planting red mangrove seedlings in an area long besieged by concrete and invasive plants.

“The kids who plant these mangrove seedlings today will see them as trees 20 years from now and say ‘I did that…’ ”

Read Full Article, the Miami Herald

Coastal Heroes

A book by By Miles O. Hayes

Published by Pandion Books

“In Coastal Heroes, an ever-enthusiastic Miles Hayes tells the story of a long and very distinguished 50-year career as a field geologist and educator.

Carried out on all 7 continents, his investigations range from the study of earth history, oil spills, oil exploration, and barrier islands and beaches.

In each chapter he relates the conclusions of some studies and then recounts, with humor and candor, his adventures and misadventures in the field.

Hayes’ passion for life and for the science of geology is infectious and his story is a clear bit of evidence that scientists are real people too.”
—Dr. Orrin H. Pilkey, Professor Emeritus, Duke University, Nicholas School of the Environment.

“Honest. Funny. Irreverent. Coastal Heroes is a memoir of the extraordinary career of the “Father of Coastal Geomorphology“, Miles O. Hayes. From humble beginnings in the mountains of North Carolina to expeditions on every continent, Hayes brings to life the (often wild) adventures of a geologist. His brilliant descriptions of coastal landforms and the processes that mold and shape them are on display in each chapter, proving his powers of observation.

But this memoir also shows Hayes to be a keen observer of people and the human condition, through his diverse epigraphs, and often hilarious anecdotes gleaned from his private journals. Coastal Heroes carries the reader along on a fast-paced journey of scientific discovery spanning 50 years, which as Hayes readily admits couldn‘t have happened without a coterie of students, characters and colleagues, who provide an ongoing fabric to his story. After reading this book, you‘ll know why so many Hayes students did “heroic” things in the name of science. It was simply to be part of this constellation of discovery circling a unique man.”
—Dr. Tim Kana, Coastal Science & Engineering.

About the Author:
Chairman of Research Planning, Inc., in Columbia, South Carolina, Miles O. Hayes is a geologist and marine scientist with over fifty years of research experience. In 1997, he was awarded the Francis P. Shepard Medal in Marine Geology by the Society for Sedimentary Geology.

Order available now at: Pandion Books

Mauritius’ Ultimate Surfing Spots

Paysage vu du Morne Brabant, Ile Maurice. Captions and Photo source: ©© Remi Bridot


Mauritius’ best surfing spots are tucked behind the craggy Morne Brabant along the quieter southwestern shores. Visible from much of the island, the iconic, 556m-high Morne Brabant is a stunning rock formation that tumbles into the sea, forming a beautiful peninsula that is shaped like a hammerhead shark.

Under the shadows of Le Morne is Mauritius’ ultimate surfing spot, One Eye…so named because when a surfer finds the sweet spot in which to catch the perfect wave they will see a small hole, or “eye”, in Le Morne’s jagged rock face…

Mauritius island. Photo source: ©© Notcup

Read Full Article, BBC Travel

The Battle For North Carolina’s Coast

The Battle for North Carolina’s Coast:

Evolutionary History, Present Crisis, and Vision for the Future.

A book by By Stanley R. Riggs, Dorothea V. Ames, Stephen J. Culver and David J. Mallinson

Published by The University of North Carolina Press

The North Carolina barrier islands, a 325-mile-long string of narrow sand islands that forms the coast of North Carolina, are one of the most beloved areas to live and visit in the United States. However, extensive barrier island segments and their associated wetlands are in jeopardy.

In The Battle for North Carolina’s Coast, four experts on coastal dynamics examine issues that threaten this national treasure.

According to the authors, the North Carolina barrier islands are not permanent. Rather, they are highly mobile piles of sand that are impacted by sea-level rise and major storms and hurricanes.

Our present development and management policies for these changing islands are in direct conflict with their natural dynamics. Revealing the urgency of the environmental and economic problems facing coastal North Carolina, this essential book offers a hopeful vision for the coast’s future if we are willing to adapt to the barriers’ ongoing and natural processes. This will require a radical change in our thinking about development and new approaches to the way we visit and use the coast. Ultimately, we cannot afford to lose these unique and valuable islands of opportunity.

This book is an urgent call to protect our coastal resources and preserve our coastal economy.

About the authors:
The authors are members of the geological sciences department at East Carolina University. Stanley R. Riggs is Distinguished Research Professor and Harriot College Distinguished Professor; Dorothea V. Ames is research instructor; Stephen J. Culver is Harriot College Distinguished Professor and chair; and David J. Mallinson is associate professor.

Order available now at: UNC Press


“An exceptional, affordable book with clear prose, succinct logic, a fine bibliography, and 72 superb color illustrations . . . . Riggs and colleagues offer a reasonable plan that, if implemented soon, will protect the natural shore system and mitigate its erosion rates, as well as nourish North Carolinas resource-based coastal economy over the long term. Highly recommended.” —Choice.

“The real strength of The Battle for North Carolinas Coast is the numerous photographs, diagrams, and maps (most of which are in color) that do an excellent job of illustrating North Carolinas coastal dynamics. . . . It would be difficult to find authors better acquainted with the geology of this particular coastline.”—Environmental History.

“No oceanographic group in the country knows more about any North American coastal segment than this group under the leadership of Stan Riggs, whose 40 year career of study has made him a North Carolina state treasure and a coastal icon. This fascinating and informative book provides the field evidence of past sea-level rises for all to see. Through the book’s beautiful aerial photos the mysteries of how barrier islands and beaches work are revealed, and we are reminded that the coast is actively evolving as the sea level rise accelerates. The authors emphasize that the past is the key to the future and urge us to prepare for sea level rise now. We must listen to them.”
—Orrin H. Pilkey, James B. Duke Professor Emeritus, Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University.

“The Battle for North Carolina’s Coast clearly identifies the potential effects of sea-level rise on North Carolina’s coast and answers the question ‘Why should I care?’ about policy decisions and coastal management. This is an important educational book for the general public and decision-makers to read.”—Betsy Bennett, director, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.

“The Battle for North Carolina’s Coast provides a flood tide of fascinating insights based on decades of keen observation and scientific research. It is a must read to fully understand our dynamic North Carolina coast and its future.” —Todd Miller, executive director, North Carolina Coastal Federation.

“A must read for anyone interested in the future of coastal communities. Riggs and his colleagues, through careful research, document the dynamic nature of our coastlines. They also point the way towards a new appreciation of the value of preserving barrier islands, estuarine marshes, and coastal wetlands in their natural condition. Saving land at the coast does more than preserve places of beauty and habitat for wildlife; it protects us, our families, and our communities from the costs and hazards of unwise development.”—TCamilla M. Herlevich, executive director, North Carolina Coastal Land Trust.

A conversation with Stanley R. Riggs

Co-Author of The Battle for North Carolina’s Coast: Evolutionary History, Present Crisis, and Vision for the Future

Published September 5, 2011, by The University of North Carolina Press, Fall, 2011.

Q: How did a man from Montana become interested in coastal geology?

A: I am frequently asked this question. The answer is that the shoreline of one of the world’s great seaways used to exist along the eastern flank of the present-day Rocky Mountains. This sea, known as the Western Interior Seaway, existed during much of the Cretaceous Period (from about 145 to 65 million years ago), when dinosaurs still roamed the Earth. At its maximum extent, the seaway stretched east to the Appalachian Mountains and northward from what is now the Gulf of Mexico to the Arctic Ocean. Because of this ancient seaway, the eastern flank of the Rocky Mountains is dominated by Cretaceous coastal sediments deposited along the western shoreline.

As students in Montana, my classmates and I spent much of our time studying these ancient coastal deposits, as well as taking many field trips to study the modern Pacific, Gulf, and Atlantic coastal systems. The Cretaceous deposits in the Western Interior Seaway were similar to those forming in modern beaches, dune fields, mud flats, marshes, and shallow shelf environments. I began working on the marine geology of Florida in 1962 and worked my way up the coast to North Carolina by 1964. I was hired by ECU in 1967 to help develop a marine geology program and have been working as a marine and coastal geologist in many parts of the world since then.

Q: You wrote this book with a team of geologists and co-workers. How did the book benefit from the team approach?

A: The coast is a vast and complex natural system that is like a living organism. It takes a broad team of experts with many different fields of expertise to understand how the human body works. Likewise, it takes a team of experts to dissect the coast and uncover its past history, to understand the present dynamics and interactions, and to project this information into a vision for the future. Each of the co-authors, as well as our many other associates and students who have helped with this book, bring different expertise to the team that is critical for developing a holistic understanding of this complex, dynamic, and rapidly changing ecosystem. This is the value of an integrated team of researchers.

Q: The Battle for North Carolina’s Coast is a call to action to protect North Carolina’s coastal economy. To whom is this call directed? Who is your target audience?

A: If you are a member of the human race, you are part of our target audience. As the world population increases, the demands for space and resources increase dramatically. It becomes increasingly imperative that all of society understands the character, dynamics, and resources of our planet earth. Even though this book deals primarily with North Carolina’s coastal system, it is a case study in which the basic concepts are directly applicable to coastal systems all over the world, as well as other types of the earth’s ecosystems.

Q: The book manages to be both foreboding and optimistic. How would you characterize your own attitude towards the future of the North Carolina coast?

A: If we are smart as a society and begin to acknowledge and adapt to the natural processes of a rapidly changing coastal system, a healthy coastal economy can grow with time. The only constant in dynamic coastal systems is that of change. If society does not recognize this, both the economy and the healthy resource base upon which it is totally dependent will be short lived. The forces that are involved at the land-sea-air intersection are greater than our long-term engineering abilities to protect the status quo. This is both the beauty and power that draws people to the coast. So, let’s get serious and build an economy that is based upon the dynamics of change and learn to live as an equal partner with our awesome coastal system.

Q: Why are the barrier islands so important to our coastal economy?

A: Barrier islands are the ocean’s “energy absorbing sponges.” Storms on the Atlantic Ocean produce the physical energy associated with storm surges, waves, and coastal currents that does the work as they impact the ocean’s barriers. This is the energy that builds the barrier islands and moves them upward and landward in response to sea-level rise. Thus the barriers are mobile piles of sand that form and move in response to the dynamics of storms and sea-level rise. Everyone loves the mystery and power of the ocean—the barrier islands with their vast shorelines and high energy inlets are the epitome of this mystery and power that draws people to its sandy shores.

Q: Coastal tourism is vital to North Carolina’s economy. How can we protect the coast’s natural resources while also supporting the economic sustainability and growth of the region?

A: Our vision for the future of North Carolina’s coastal system and associated economy is based upon “living in harmony with the coast.” The vision for the coastal system of southeastern N.C., which is already largely urbanized, presents “islands of opportunity” for adaptation to change. This discussion should begin now, so that as the never-ending stream of storms take their toll, we can systematically begin adapting to the changing conditions. The Outer Banks of northeastern N.C. are rapidly becoming a natural “string of pearls,” with small villages connected by a series of vast shoals. In this context, we must soon determine whether to rebuild the Oregon Inlet bridge and forever fight expensive battles trying to maintain a fixed highway on the narrow and collapsing simple barrier islands. Or should we adapt to the ongoing changes and develop a new high-tech ferry system that will connect all the Outer Banks villages with the mainland villages. This would produce eight Ocracoke-style destination villages that can build upon the culture and history of the Outer Banks and interconnect with a new and sustainable eco-tourism based within N.C.’s “Land of Water” with its estuarine shorelines of vast marshes, mysterious swamp forests, and meandering black-water streams. Water is the essence of life on our blue and green planet Earth—let’s build a sustainable tourism economy based upon this awesome resource.

Q: In this book, you argue that we are at a threshold in deciding how to preserve our coastal lands while also protecting the local infrastructure of coastal towns and villages. What threshold are you referring to?

A: We are extremely fortunate in North Carolina that our forefathers recognized the wild and changing character of our coastal system and made critical decisions to set aside large portions of our barrier islands as national seashores, state parks, wildlife refuges, etc. Similar resources have largely disappeared in most other states. This availability of wild public lands is one of our strongest assets and attractions for today’s tourist economy. Our private barrier islands are quickly being “built out” with high-dollar developments that dominate the high-hazard ocean, inlet, and estuarine shorelines. Only about 12 miles of urbanized shorelines were routinely nourished with new sand prior to the 1990s and most were highly subsidized by the federal and state governments. Today, as shoreline recession continues in response to long-term sea-level rise and associated storms take their toll, the communities along about 124 miles of N.C.’s ocean shorelines want new nourishment sand for their beaches. But the governments are no longer capable of subsidizing this exercise in futility, particularly when the average beach nourishment project in N.C. only lasts between 1.75 and 2.5 years. Now there is a new law passed by the N.C. Legislature to allow hardening of our inlet shorelines. Our coastal tourism bubble is beginning to feel the consequences of long-term change—we have reached the threshold. The cost of “holding the line” is rapidly escalating.

Q: What are some of the biggest challenges we are currently facing in dealing with coastal erosion and deterioration of the ecosystem?

A: One of the biggest challenges is public education concerning the dynamics of our coastal system, which cannot be adequately managed without this understanding. For example, the population generally does not understand that shoreline erosion is the direct product of long-term sea-level rise, which has been ongoing for the past 18,000 years. As the Earth’s climate warms, the vast continental ice sheets melt and recede. Waters flow back into the world’s oceans, causing the sea level to rise. In response, the mobile coastal system has had a long journey migrating upward and landward from its starting point on the continental slope, about 410 feet below and up to 60 miles east of its present location.

This history will continue as long as our climate continues to warm. To maintain a viable
coastal economy and preserve the natural resources upon which that economy is dependent, the public, our managers, and politicians must understand and adapt to the natural dynamics of change on a mobile coastal system. The present approach of unlimited economic growth and development will result in ever-increasing conflicts and catastrophes.

Q: Should we continue to urbanize the coast? Can we afford the environmental costs if we do?

A: Much of the U.S. coast has been totally “built out” with walls of massive condominiums, hotels, rental mansions, extensive seawalls, boardwalks, and gambling casinos. This is one kind of tourism and there are abundant destinations for those desiring this from their coastal system. But the natural North Carolina coastal system is spectacular without an equal anywhere in the world, and, at present, is not totally “built out.” We don’t have to compete with New Jersey or Florida. Let’s recognize the real value of our resource; people will come because of the vastness, beauty, and high-energy character of this unique coastal resource. We should embrace the historical culture and the wild remoteness and parlay those attributes into our economic advantage.

Q: You mentioned that your colleagues project a potential rise in regional sea level of 39 to 55-inches by 2100. What would be the ramifications of this sea level rise?

A: There will always be ocean and estuarine shorelines, with rising sea level they just won’t be in the same place. If we are determined to maintain the status quo by hardening the ocean, inlet, and estuarine shorelines with either engineered structures or increased urbanization, we will not only prevent the coastal system from evolving, but will rapidly increase our “disaster-based economy.” This will include ever-increasing catastrophic storm events, increased loss of sand beaches and associated wetlands, and deteriorating estuarine water quality and associated fisheries. However, if we allow the barrier islands and estuaries to respond naturally to the ongoing rise in sea level and storms, we can continue to have a thriving tourist economy with a healthy, high energy, mobile coastal system “by adapting to and living with the coast.” Then the entire coastal system will continue to migrate upward and landward in a slow and systematic fashion. The estuarine shorelines will continue expanding by erosion; the estuarine water bodies and their marshes and swamp forests will migrate up their respective river valleys. The simple barrier islands, which are dominated by inlets and overwash dynamics, will migrate landward by rolling over their shallow back-barrier shoals like a tank tread, or will back-step over the deeper water estuaries and build anew on the mainland shoreline.

Q: This account details the development of the Carolina coastal plain since pre-historic times. Why was it important to provide in-depth historical context?

A: Understanding the dynamic interactions of the modern coastal system allows us to interpret our past history that is recorded in the sediments and rocks in the subsurface of the coastal plain and continental shelf. It is this historical record that represents a long-
term chronology of how our continental margin and coastal system evolved over time. For example, several times during the past few thousand years, large portions of our present Outer Banks collapsed into vast shallow shoals, causing Pamlico Sound to become an ocean embayment. The last time large portions of the barrier islands collapsed was about 1,100 years ago (~900 AD), probably in response to an extra intense period of storm activity. This condition lasted until about 500 years ago (~ 1500 AD), when the barrier islands we know today reformed, enclosing Pamlico Sound as an inland estuary. The geologic record is like a book of our historical evolution and represents the major basis for predicting the future—if the barrier islands have collapsed in the recent past, then there is a high potential that it can happen again in the near future.

Q: This book contains 41 illustrations and 31 figures. How do these visual aids assist in the reader’s understanding of the written material?

A: Illustrations and figures help to clarify and simplify the science, as well as to document what is presently happening to our coastal system—this is the evidence that change is the only constant within this dynamic system. Over the last few decades, many hundreds of houses, hotels, and roadways have been lost to the ocean in storms. Today, there are hundreds of structures that were not built in the water but are now surrounded by broken walls of sand bags and located in the surf zone; this is pretty strong evidence of the ongoing processes of change. The illustrations and figures show the changes and help to tell the story of why and how fast these changes are taking place.

Q: This is a subject that has been in the news a lot lately. What sorts of topics and questions surrounding erosion and preservation are not currently being discussed? What does your book add to this current discussion?

A: We seem to think the coastal system, like the Appalachian Mountains, has been in place forever and will continue to be far into the future. The status quo of unlimited growth and development, similar to that which occurs in Raleigh, doesn’t work in a dynamic coastal system. We must begin to create a new paradigm for “living with the coast”—a paradigm that does not require the unending process of engineering bigger protective measures requiring massive subsidy programs for some of the most hazardous property in the world. The following topics concerning the future of North Carolina’s coastal system, and representing a major part of our book, are generally not part of discussions taking place in the regional political arenas, management circles, or within the public domain.

1. The natural dynamics of sea-level rise, evolutionary change, and the concept of
adaptation to the ongoing processes of change.

2. Alternatives to massive, fixed ocean-front businesses and structures.

3. New paradigms for evaluating, owning, and utilizing the high-energy, ocean-
front and inlet shoreline properties.

4. Replacement of the automobile and fixed infrastructure of bridges and roads
with mainland parking, high-tech ferry network system, and rental business for
non-invasive, small-scale transport systems.

5. Building and integrating a sustainable eco-tourism industry around the history,
culture, and natural science that integrates the entire coastal ecosystem.

Note: This interview may be reprinted in its entirety with the following credit: A conversation with Stanley Riggs, co-author of The Battle for North Carolina’s Coast: Evolutionary History, Present Crisis, and Vision for the Future (University of North Carolina Press, Fall, 2011). The text of this interview is available at

The Battle for North Carolina’s Coast: Evolutionary History, Present Crisis, and Vision for the Future
Editors: Stanley R. Riggs, Dorothea V. Ames, Stephen J. Culver, and David J. Mallinson

Lakshadweep Islands

Lakshadweep’s coral atolls glow iridescent blue-green in this natural-color scene. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite acquired this image on February 19, 2012. Image source: Jeff Schmaltz / NASA

By Michon Scott, NASA

In the Arabian Sea, roughly 200 kilometers (120 miles) off the west coast of southern India, are the Lakshadweep Islands. The island chain consists of 27 islands along with coral atolls and sand banks.

Lakshadweep’s coral atolls glow iridescent blue-green in the natural-color scene. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite acquired this image on February 19, 2012.

The islands and atolls might appear scattered, but they all lie along a prominent north-south submarine ridge. Geologists have noticed that the alignment of the Lakshadweep ridge looks like a continuation of the Aravalli Range, a mountain chain running through the Indian state of Rajasthan. Some geologists have speculated that the islands might be a submerged extension of that chain.

The Lakshadweep ridge rises from a depth of more than 2,000 meters (6,500 feet) below sea level, and submarine surveys indicate that the ridge is probably steeper on its eastern flank than on its western flank. At the surface, the coral atolls show consistent differences between their eastern and western sides. Most of the saucer-shaped lagoons in Lakshadweep are confined to the western sides of the islands. Reefs exist on the eastern shores, but the shallow, rocky terrain has likely stunted them.

Despite stunted eastern reefs, the Lakshadweep islands make a pretty picture, whether from the sky or the ground. Glistening white sand beaches ring the islands, and most of the inhabited islands sport abundant coconut trees. But no waterfalls adorn the Lakshadweep Islands. They rise only a few meters above sea level, and their terrain is too porous to allow lakes and rivers to form.

Only 10 or 11 of the islands are inhabited, but human presence in the Lakshadweep Islands extends back centuries.

Located along a heavily traveled sea route between West Asia and Africa on one side, and South Asia and the Far East on the other, the islands likely served as landmarks and resting places in emergencies.

Evidence of centuries-old human habitation includes Buddhist shrines, pottery shards dating back to 1500 B.C., and a hoard of more than 400 Roman coins. From the second century A.D.

Agatti Island, Lakshadweep. Photo source: ©© Swissfrog. Agatti is one of the Lakshadweep islands open to tourism. Visitors, however, are allowed to the Island under certain restrictions. They are required to obtain Entry Permit from the Lakshadweep Administration for entering or visiting the island. Wikipedia.

Original Article, Earth Observatory / NASA

From Washed Up Rubbish to Gallery Art

Tasmania Marine Debris Clean Up. Photo courtesy of: © Johnny Abegg


Piles of rubbish collected from the Abrolhos Islands on Clean up Australia Day, 2012 have been transformed into remarkable works of art.

The Flotsam and Jetsam exhibition featuring art work made from Clean Up Australia day 2012 is currently on display at Geraldton’s Latitude Gallery, until April 30th.

WATCH: From Washed Up Rubbish to Gallery Art, a ABC Video

The Flotsam and Jetsam exhibition, Geraldton’s Latitude Gallery, Featuring art work made from Clean Up Australia day 2012, at the Abrolhos Islands, Western Australia. Image source: From Washed Up Rubbish to Gallery Art, a ABC Video

22nd Clean Up Australia Day: 2012


An estimated 591 400 volunteers removed a staggering 16 199 tonnes of rubbish from 7363 Clean Up Sites across the country, streets, parks, beaches and bushland.

It all started in 1989, when an average Australian bloke had a simple idea to make a difference in his own backyard, Clean Up Sydney Harbour.

The event received an enormous public response with more than 40,000 Sydneysiders donating their time and energy to clean up the harbor.

The next year Clean Up Australia Day was born.

Ian and his committee believed that if a capital city could be mobilised into action, then so could the whole nation. Almost 300,000 volunteers turned out on the first Clean Up Australia Day in 1990 and that involvement has steadily increased ever since.

This simple idea has now become the nation’s largest community-based environmental event…

Read More About: Clean Up Australia Day

The Flotsam and Jetsam exhibition, Geraldton’s Latitude Gallery, Featuring art work made from Clean Up Australia day 2012, at the Abrolhos Islands,western Australia.Image source: From Washed Up Rubbish to Gallery Art, a ABC Video

The South West Marine Debris Cleanup: Tasmania

Johnny Abegg Tasmania Marine Debris
Tasmania Marine Debris Clean Up. Photo courtesy of: ©Johnny Abegg

The South West Marine Debris Cleanup is an annual trip orchestrated by Environmental Scientist Matt Dell to the remote wilderness of Tasmania, where tonnes of rubbish can be found on the beaches of this pristine and isolated environment.

This is his story.


Filmed and Edited by Johnny Abegg
Music by Any Noise

Thanks to Patagonia for their ongoing support of environmental issues.

For more about the cleanup, or to make a donation visit: marinedebris.blogspot

South West Marine Debris Clean Up, 2012 Edition

South West National Park, Tasmania, Beach of the Month, in Coastal Care