Artificial and Restored Beaches Threaten Marine Ecosystems

Beautiful sand beaches are one of Ma Nature’s most splendid creations — except sometimes they’re actually the handiwork of humans. Every year, millions of dollars go to creating sand beaches on previously rocky coasts and rebuilding beaches at key tourist destinations that have been eroded by storms, changing currents, and rising sea levels. Although eroding beaches are often caused by environmental problems — from poor land management to climate change — environmentalists warn that fixing the beaches can also damage ecosystems. Sand dredged from the seabed to create or recreate beaches can disrupt marine ecology, leaving worms, clams, turtles, and shorebirds struggling to adapt to sand dumped in their habitats. “Beach nourishment is spreading from the Miami area, it may be a cancer going around the world,” said marine expert Charles Peterson.