A beach is a narrow, gently sloping strip of land on the coast that is usually made up of sand. These beaches provide people with recreational opportunities, such as bathing, swimming, and fishing. Some beaches are also used for a variety of businesses, such as restaurants, charter boat facilities, and hotels. They also serve as shelter from storm winds.
Beaches are created by ocean currents. The tides move sediment and other debris around the coastline. This sediment may include sand and other debris that can be carried hundreds of miles. Sediment and other materials are also swept away from the shore by wind. Consequently, beaches are formed, altered, or destroyed every day.
Although there is a variety of different types of beaches, most are sandy. However, some beaches are rocky or barren. Similarly, some beaches are very cold, while others are very warm. There are also beaches that are very polluted.
Beach nourishment is a practice used in many developed nations to combat erosion. This method involves adding small amounts of sand on an area of the beach to make it steeper and more stable. In addition, it can also enhance habitats for selected species of biota. It can also be a useful tool to reuse materials that have been extracted for another purpose.
Beaches are shaped by ocean currents and seasonal changes. These changes cause the beach to widen and become steeper during the summer months, and sand to be blown off the beach during the winter. Storms can also erode beaches. To prevent these effects, seawalls can be built or plastic is dredged to create a barrier.
The main function of a beach is to provide protection for nearby residents. Beaches are popular for swimming, sunbathing, and fishing. People who live near beaches enjoy the benefits of having their homes near the ocean. Despite these benefits, some beaches have become threatened by sea level rise and other environmental factors.
In some areas, beach nourishment has proven to be a very effective method of combating erosion. However, it can negatively affect foreshore ecosystems and bird nesting. Many species of marine mammals are sensitive to the change in sediment types that are exposed to the water. Additionally, it can lead to the burial of sandbars, which can disrupt birds’ nesting activities.
Depending on the frequency of nourishment, the impact can be beneficial or detrimental. The most common practice is to nourish the upper part of a beach with new sand. If the sand is only added at a single time, it will not have a significant effect on the ecological or recreational functions of the area. Other forms of nourishment, such as dredging, can also be used.
In many countries, beaches have become a valuable resource for tourism. For example, the islands of Hawaii and the Virgin Islands are highly dependent on tourist income. However, as these beaches erode, they lose their value. Also, these beaches are prone to being drowned by rising sea levels.