Category Archives: Beach Maintenance

When beaches are trashed, who pays the price?

Photograph: © SAF — Coastal Care


If you arrived at your dream beach only to find it littered with plastic and other rubbish, would you stay and play — or be on your way?

A recent NOAA-funded study found that when the amount of marine debris normally on beaches is doubled, coastal economies could experience a substantial negative impact due to a decrease in beach visits and loss of economic activity in those communities.

For example: The largest potential economic loss was calculated for Orange County, California, where a doubling of the typical amount of debris was estimated to cause a $414 million decrease in local tourism-related spending and a loss of nearly 4,300 jobs.

Conversely, along Ohio’s Lake Erie shoreline, a reduction of marine debris to near zero was estimated to add $217 million in local, tourism-related spending and more than 3,700 jobs.

The outcomes from this study further our understanding of how marine debris can affect the financial health of coastal communities that depend on beach recreation. Preventing marine debris before it enters our ocean, Great Lakes and waterways, can protect and help sustain a thriving coastal tourism economy.

To learn more, see our Story Mapoffsite link and NOAA’s Marine Debris Program website.

Original Article And Lean More; NOAA (09-26-2019)

Dealing with Beach Erosion; Maintenance, Monitoring Program Eyed; AL

Coastal erosion, Dog river mouth, Mobile, Alabama. Photo source: ©© Cesar Harada


Fairhope, Alabama. Since a $50,000 beach repair emergency project was completed last July, a large chunk of beach has eroded and the council will soon consider implementing a beach monitoring and maintenance program.

The “primary goal is the establishment of a city Beach Monitoring and Maintenance Plan which maintains the beaches, develops a vegetation plan and minimizes wind-blown sand issues…”

Read Full Article, AL

Médano Blanco Coastal Dunes, Argentina

Astronaut photograph ISS026-E-26761 was acquired on February 13, 2011, with a Nikon D2Xs digital camera using an 800 mm lens.

By M. Justin Wilkinson, NASA-JSC / Earth Observatory

The Médano Blanco (“White Dunes”) are a recreational area about 35 kilometers (22 miles) west of the twin port cities of Nicochea-Quequén in Argentina.

The Médano Blanco dune field extends 3.5 km (2 miles) at its widest part and separates the Atlantic Ocean from intensive sunflower cropland, visible as the angular pattern of green and brown fields at image left. Small streams, oriented toward the coast, cross the farmland. Water from these streams is dammed behind the dunes and even within the dunes, where wetlands flourish.

Narrow cordons of coastal dunes stretch for hundreds of kilometers along this part of Argentina’s coast. The Médano Blanco is not far from the arid and windy borderlands with Patagonia, one of the windiest places on Earth.

The effects of strong westerly winds (blowing from bottom to top in this image) can be seen everywhere in this astronaut photograph. Dune-ridge crests are oriented at right angles to the prevailing wind.

Geologists suspect that erosion by wind has excavated numerous hollows, which now dot the farmland as small shallow lakes. A stand of dark green trees has been planted on the upwind side of a health spa, the white dot is the roof of a stately building, as a protective barrier against the wind.

The white fringe along the seashore is formed by lines of breaking waves.

Crossing swell trains appear offshore in the Atlantic, and the curvature of the swell shows the effect of the westerly wind. Winds tend to drive the sea currents in this area, though some prominent onshore swells also approach the coast from the southeast. The light brown tinted seawater near the shore is rich with fine mud that is stirred up out of coastal sediments by wave action, then washed seaward and east by currents.

Original Article

How Nature’s Patterns Form, by Mari N. Jensen, College of Science, University of Arizona
“Most patterns you see, including the ones on sand dunes or fish or tigers or leopards, and even the defects in the patterns, have many universal features.”

Exploring the Sand, Coastal Care

A Feast Interrupted

Photograph: © SAF — Coastal Care


Every few days, in some places as often as twice a day, tractors roll along a hundred miles or so of sandy beaches in southern California, scooping up not only trash but also seaweed that’s washed ashore, along with the myriad small creatures that shelter in it. This mechanical “beach grooming”, practiced for decades, helps keep up the classic sand-and-surf image that draws millions of people to the region’s beaches, but it also sweeps away a resource that provides vital nourishment for shorebirds.

“Grooming sandy beaches changes rich coastal habitats into barren plains of unstable sand,” says Jenifer Dugan of the Marine Science Institute at the University of California, Santa Barbara, whose team has surveyed over 40 beaches, both those that are regularly groomed and beaches where beach wrack, kelps and seagrasses brought ashore by waves and tides, is left in place. Their ongoing studies since 1995, funded by California Sea Grant, California State Parks, Minerals Management Service, and the National Science Foundation, have found far fewer creatures and far lower diversity of life on beaches that are regularly cleaned by “sanitizer” tractors.

On beaches where wrack was left undisturbed, “Our surveys have found a very high abundance and diversity of intertidal life compared to similar beaches in other parts of the world,” Dugan says…

Read Full Article, By Hal Hughes, in Making Waves