Stories tagged beaches

Aug
27
2007

Welcome to the beach, kids: Don't forget your shoes.  (photo by Luiza on Flickr.com)
Welcome to the beach, kids: Don't forget your shoes. (photo by Luiza on Flickr.com)
Officials in Broward County, Florida, are considering using crushed glass to rebuild their eroded beaches. The plan, unfortunately, is not to cover the beaches with broken bottles, but to use well-pulverized glass, essentially recreating the sand that was used to make the glass in the first place. So a walk on the beach wouldn’t be, you know, torture. It would be a lot like walking on a normal beach, just shinier. I approve of this; everything in the future should be a little shinier.

It’s bad for business when beaches erode in Florida, and Broward has always resorted to dredging up sand from the ocean floor and pumping it back on to the beach. This isn’t cheap, and it won’t be getting any cheaper, hence the county’s interest in possible alternatives.

So far, studies have shown that the organisms and wildlife of the beaches should be able to thrive in the glass sand just the same as normal sand, although some have pointed out that it is impossible to predict all of the environmental consequences of a project like this. In the 1970s, for instance, Broward County attempted to attach 700,000 old tires to the ocean floor to create an artificial reef. When the tires came loose (and who could have predicted that?), though, they began “scouring the ocean floor,” and wedging against natural reefs, killing the coral. I have to admire the spirit there, at least – in addition to the glass beach initiative, Broward understands that, in the future, cars obviously won’t have tires, and we’ll need to think of something to do with all of the old ones. If only there was some way to make them shiny.

Mar
18
2007

What a beach: In the aftermath of Hurricane Wilma in 2005, Cancun has had a hard time keeping sand on its beaches in its resort areas. Rebuilding efforts from the hurricane are quickly eroding away again, with up to 30 percent losses.
What a beach: In the aftermath of Hurricane Wilma in 2005, Cancun has had a hard time keeping sand on its beaches in its resort areas. Rebuilding efforts from the hurricane are quickly eroding away again, with up to 30 percent losses.
After a devastating hit by Hurricane Wilma in 2005, Mexico spent $19 million to rebuild beaches in the popular tourist destination of Cancun. Now, those efforts appear to be quickly eroding away.

Following the devastating impacts of the hurricane, ocean depths were dredged and eight miles of popular beach front were rebuilt, and actually expanded, to try to prevent the huge loss of beach to happen again.

But less than two years later, up to 30 percent of that sand is now missing. On some portions of the beach, swimmers and tanners have to jump down a three-foot drop in the beach to get to the current sand level.

What’s going on?

Environmentalists in the area insist any efforts will be wasted efforts unless more vegetation is worked into the areas between hotels and beaches. The roots of those plants and trees would help stabilize the impacts of erosion along the coast, they contend.

But the people in the tourist industry feel that building an artificial reef along the beach would help to lessen the impacts of waves and tides on the beaches. They’re drawing up plans to create a public/private partnership to develop and maintain such a reef.

The tourist industry concerns also say that there is a cyclical action to the growth and decrease of Cancun’s beaches. It contends that erosion happens in the winter months when coastal winds and currents are stronger. Then the sands return to the beach in calmer months.

But the environmentalists contend that situation has been getting progressively worse since the 1970s when large hotels began being developed along the beaches and native vegetation was pulled out.

What do you think? Share your thoughts here with other Science Buzz readers.