The Union Recorder

Community News Network

April 30, 2013

How to minimize the environmental impact of your time at the beach

Even if the weather hasn't quite come around yet, summer is almost here. For many people, that means it's almost time to head - very, very slowly, if you leave on a Friday - to the beach.

For the environmentally conscious, however, a beach vacation is sometimes fraught with guilt. Few places exhibit man's encroachment on nature more clearly than a beach. Turn your back to the ocean, and you see rows of hotels and high-rise condos. Gas-powered jet skis skid across the ocean, and planes drag advertisements through the skies. Seeing trash in the water is depressingly commonplace.

So what can you do to minimize your impact on beaches, without denying your children their fundamental right to boogie board? It turns out that much of what you can do to protect beaches happens before you leave home.

"You live closer to the beach than you think," says Steve Fleischli, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council's water program. "Your drain may lead to the ocean or to a river that leads to the ocean."

Have you ever noticed a large pipe draining into the ocean at your favorite beach and wondered what comes out of it? For the most part, it's storm water runoff - rain or snow that falls on concrete or paved surfaces, then finds its way into a drain and out to the beach. Whatever the water encounters on its way into that drain can make its way to the ocean.

"Pick up after your pet," Fleischli recommends. "Don't over-water and fertilize your lawns. Try to retain water on-site at your home with permeable surfaces rather than letting it drain down the driveway. And water your grass, not the sidewalks or street."

And once you're at the beach, stay away from those storm drains. The warm, calm pools of water that accumulate at the end of those pipes may be tempting, especially to children, but Fleischli recommends staying at least 50 yards away from the drains.

The NRDC reported that 8 percent of water samples collected from beaches in 2011 exceeded national standards for harmful bacteria. Storm water runoff was the largest known contributor to the contamination.

The good news is that the Mid-Atlantic boasts some of the cleanest beaches in the country, according to the NRDC report. Dewey and Rehoboth beaches in Delaware received the group's highest rating, as did Maryland's Ocean City at Beach 6. At Hammerman beach at Gunpowder Falls State Park in Maryland, however, 15 percent of samples exceeded national standards for bacterial contamination; at the beach in Elk Neck State Park, also in Maryland, 31 percent of samples failed, due largely to increased waterfowl droppings. A spokesman for the Maryland Department of the Environment says local officials are taking steps to reduce contamination levels at both beaches.

Staying away from drains is the best thing you can do for yourself at the beach, but the best thing you can do for the beach itself is to keep off the dunes. You've seen the signs. Heed them.

"Sandy dunes in barrier islands are a natural protection for the rest of the habitat on the island," says Nick Mallos, a conservation biologist for the Ocean Conservancy. "The grasses and other vegetation that grow there have roots that penetrate into the sand and stabilize the beach habitat." When storms lash the beaches, the dunes keep the sand from sliding into the sea.

Trash, of course, is an obvious eyesore. But beach littering has far-reaching consequences. Mallos says he has seen thousands of dead albatrosses with plastic items such as bottle caps, cigarette lighters and toothbrushes in their stomachs. He recalls seeing a juvenile loggerhead sea turtle trapped in what very likely came from one of the many plastic bags blowing around American beaches. In Mallos's view, it's not enough to throw your trash into garbage cans on the beach, where wind can carry it out of the container and into the sea. Instead, he suggests, take home everything you bring to the beach.

Finally, a word about sunscreen. Researchers have shown that sunscreen can cause coral bleaching, the expulsion of important algae from the hard tissue of a coral reef. Bleaching doesn't kill the reef immediately, but it leaves coral more vulnerable to disease and other stresses. According to some estimates, up to 10 percent of the world's coral reefs may suffer from exposure to sunscreen worn by snorkelers and swimmers. The Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and New Jersey beaches don't feature significant coral reefs, but if your vacation includes a visit to a coral-studded ocean such as the waters off the Florida Keys, be careful about your personal-care products. Always wear sunscreen, but try to avoid heavily touristed beaches with nearby coral reefs.



 

1
Text Only
Community News Network
  • Smartphone kill switches are coming

    Smartphones need kill switches. It's a relatively easy solution to the pricey (and irritating) problem of smartphone theft. But who would have thought that the big carriers would team up with Apple, Google, Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung and lots of other manufacturers to voluntarily begin adding the technology by July 2015? The cooperative spirit! It makes so much sense!

    April 18, 2014

  • Why do wolves howl?

    Of all the myths that dog the wolf, none is more widely accepted than the idea that wolves howl at the moon. Images of wolves with their heads upturned, singing at the night sky, are as unquestioned as a goldfish's three-second memory or a dog's color-blindness (both also myths).

    April 18, 2014

  • Biggest student loan profits come from grad students

    This week, the Congressional Budget Office projected that the federal government would earn roughly $127 billion from student lending during the next 10 years.

    April 18, 2014

  • quake.jpg Pennsylvania won’t take action following Ohio ruling on quakes, fracking

    Pennsylvania officials plan no action despite new Ohio rules on drilling that affect a seismically active area near the state line.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • VIDEO: Boston bomb scare defendant appears in court

    The man accused of carrying a backpack containing a rice cooker near the Boston Marathon finish line on the anniversary of the bombings was arraigned Wednesday. He's being held on $100,000 bail.

    April 17, 2014

  • Consumer spending on health care jumps as Affordable Care Act takes hold

    Nancy Beigel has known since September that she would need hernia surgery. She couldn't afford it on her $11,000 yearly income until she became eligible for Medicaid in January through President Barack Obama's signature health care law.

    April 17, 2014

  • The case for separate beds

    The other night I slept on a twin bed in the guest room of the house I share with my husband and our two kids.
    It was the best night's sleep I've had in years.

    April 17, 2014

  • Raw oysters spike U.S. rise in bacterial infections, CDC reports

    Raw oysters, so good with hot sauce, increasingly can carry something even more unsettling to the stomach: A bacteria linked to vomiting, diarrhea and pain.

    April 17, 2014

  • Doctors to rate cost effectiveness of expensive cancer drugs

    The world's largest organization of cancer doctors plans to rate the cost effectiveness of expensive oncology drugs, and will urge physicians to use the ratings to discuss the costs with their patients.

    April 16, 2014

  • Low blood-sugar levels make for grousing spouses

    Husbands and wives reported being most unhappy with their spouses when their blood-sugar levels were lowest, usually at night, according to research released this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Missing a meal, dieting or just being hungry may be the reason, researchers said.

    April 16, 2014

Poll
AP Video
Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism
Facebook
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Stocks
NDN Video
Jabari Parker's Top 5 Plays From Duke Career Kourtney Kardashian Is a Bikini Babe More Manpower Than Ever Expected At 4/20 Rally Debunk'd: Miley Cyrus AIDS, Cheeseburgers Cause Cancer, Military Warning Bill Previewing the NBA playoffs Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite My name is Cocaine Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Lohan Gets Candid About Her Sex List The 2014 New York Auto Show Meet Johnny Manziel's New Girlfriend Chelsea Clinton Announces Pregnancy Funny: Celebrating Easter with Martha Stewart and Friends Man Accuses 'X-Men' Director Bryan Singer of Sexually Abusing Him As a Teenager Man hit with $525 federal fine after he doesn't pay for soda refill Lea Michele & Naya Rivera Feuding? Jabari Parker declares for the NBA draft Singing Nun Belts Out Cyndi Lauper New West, Texas Explosion Video Swim Daily, Throwback Thursday