A beach is a landform that’s formed by the gradual accumulation of sand and other materials along shorelines. Waves and wind bring this material to the shore. It’s the same material that makes coral skeletons and shells. When forams die, the shells are left in the sand. Some of these features are quite unique. Bermuda forams, for example, build pink shells. But no two beaches are the same.
The most significant responsibility for protecting beaches is given to the Environmental Protection Agency. This agency has a variety of responsibilities, including the regulation of stormwater pollution, coastal erosion, CAFO manure, and oil spill response. However, the enforcement of these regulations varies from administration to administration. For example, the Obama administration embraced CWA regulations to protect our beaches, while the Trump administration is working to undermine them. While the EPA is the biggest entity responsible for protecting our beaches, the quality and quantity of these regulations varies greatly from region to region.
The active beach profile differs greatly from beach to coast. It varies depending on the amount of wave action, the height of the tide, and the composition of the sediment. It usually includes a terrace, a series of ridges or berms that slope down toward the water. In addition, a low-tide terrace may be present on a steep frontal beach slope. These features create a natural habitat for marine life.
The composition of a beach largely depends on the material in the water upstream of it. Red beaches are created by volcanic rock rich in iron, while green and blue beaches contain minerals rich in olivine. Black beaches are formed by obsidian, a volcanic glass. Volcanic lava flows into the sea and hardens into obsidian shards, which the waves smooth out into sand. Similarly, some sand is produced from ocean debris. However, when it’s compacted, it is more resistant to erosion. When particles are suspended in the fluid, it increases the viscosity and density of the moving water.
Oceans are the largest bodies of water on the planet, but a beach is a landform. While oceans are slightly bluer than oceans, they do not have as many types of marine life as a beach. Beaches also differ in their location and characteristics. While both have the same benefits, a beach is more likely to be found in a temperate climate, while an ocean is much warmer and more arid.
The composition of a beach is determined by the energy of waves that make up the waves. Higher waves on a beach mean more coarse sand, as waves push small particles to offshore. On the contrary, dune sand is consistently finer compared to its neighboring beaches, and is formed by winds that blow across the beach and carry only fine grains of sand. If you’re wondering what determines the sand composition of a beach, check out this article.
The health effects of polluted beaches are well documented. An EPA survey found that 10 percent of water samples collected in 2013 failed to meet swimmer safety standards. Some sewage and fertilizers can cause stomach upsets, pink eye, earaches, and meningitis. The EPA recommends that swimmers avoid swimming in beaches with a higher than safe water quality. These toxins can stay in the water for days or even weeks. Moreover, contact with the contaminated sand is enough to cause symptoms of illness.