The famous white sands along Florida’s Emerald Coast comes from the erosion of quartz way up in the Appalachian Mountains.Take Action ↓
When you’re asked about vacation, what’s the first place that comes to mind? For many people, vacation is synonymous with fleeing to the nearest coast.
Similar to salmon and blue whales, people around the world participate in a great seasonal migration to the shore, whether it’s to surf, fish, swim, or watch the unobstructed sunset. Currently, over 80% of all global tourism takes place in coastal regions. Our gravitational pull towards the beach is nothing new. Since the beginning of civilization, humans have flocked to the ocean for a source of nourishment, livelihood, trade, and adventure. Today, one in two people live within 60 kilometersof a coast, with over 61% of the world’s total GNP coming from areas within 100 kilometers of the ocean.
“Every time we walk along a beach some ancient urge disturbs us so that we find ourselves shedding shoes and garments or scavenging among seaweed and whitened timbers like the homesick refugees of a long war.” Loren Eiseley
Unfortunately, their popularity also puts beach ecosystems at risk. Unsustainable coastal development, agricultural and industrial pollution, ocean trash, and climate change threaten their very existence. Studies have shown that beach sand contains 100 times more fecal matter than adjacent, contaminated seawater due largely to its proximity to human settlements, coupled with the absorptive nature of sand. In the U.S. alone, over 14,000 miles of natural coastline have been covered by concrete walls, with a third to be hardened by 2100. The degradation of beaches puts us all in danger.
Easily the most recognizable of all marine habitats, beaches are far from the simple expanses of pure sand we often see in photographs. Rather, beaches support a complex array of flora and fauna, from nesting sea turtles and wispy grasses to scuttling crabs and talkative seabirds. A beach’s sands and shape are both the unique products of millennia of wind and wave movements. Whatever their unique form, all coastal ecosystems provide us essential protection. It’s about time we step up and protect them too.