A beach is a strip of land located along the coastline of a body of water may it be a sea, lake or river. It is usually made of sand pebbles rocks and shell fragments. Beaches are a dynamic natural phenomenon and are continuously reworked by waves currents tides and the rise and fall of ocean water levels. They also come in different colors depending on the geology of the surrounding area. Beaches can be formed by erosion of rocks offshore or by recurrent storms.
Beaches are typically composed of sand, although they can contain any granular material that is accessible to moving water such as gravel, silt, cobble, shingle and even boulders. The sand of beaches is made of tiny rock particles called silica or quartz. The color of a beach is primarily dependent on the type of silica available to moving water. The most common silica is found in the form of black basalt and can give a beach its dark color while white sand is mainly from coral or crushed shells. Beaches are often rounded and smooth because of wave action which also helps to create sandbars.
The composition of a beach is largely dependent on the nature and quantity of sediments upstream, the speed of water flow and the turbidity and mobility of the sediments. Coastal areas that are exposed to vigorous wind and wave systems will typically produce sandy beaches, while areas that are protected from such forces will tend to accrete deposits of sand or clay. Beaches are also characterized by the shape of waves which may be constructive or destructive and whether they are dominated by sand or shingle.
The most conspicuous parts of a beach are the berm, trough and surf zone. The berm is the part of a beach that is most above water at low tide and is active in the process of sediment deposition by waves. The trough is the part of the beach that is most below water at low tide and is active in the formation of sandbars. The surf zone is the area of a beach that is actively impacted by waves and is characterized by rips and breaks.
Beaches have long been popular places for recreation as early humans began traveling by ship to various destinations around the world. Commercial sea bathing was first developed in the 18th century and soon became popular throughout the United States and Britain. People started to flock to the beaches to swim, sunbathe and play sports. Beaches are also important habitats for many marine species such as fish birds and other wildlife. Some of these include sandpipers, gulls and seals. Beaches are also a great place for whales and dolphins to feed and breed. Moreover, beaches are very important for the migration of birds. The beaches are also a great place for sea turtles to lay their eggs. Despite their importance, some beach-going animals are harmed because of the unprotected environment.