Stretches of beach along the coasts provide numerous
recreational opportunities for millions of people.
Boating, fishing, swimming, walking and sunbathing are
among the numerous activities enjoyed by beachgoers.
The beach provides a unique habitat for a variety of
plants and animals. Most of migratory waterfowl depend
on coastal beaches during their life span. Dune
vegetation provides nesting areas for several kinds of
birds and animals.
In the hot, wet climate of the tropics, mangrove trees
dominate estuarine / lagoonal beaches. In the harsher
climate, beaches are dominated by a few species of hardy
grasses and bushes that can withstand strong winds and
intense summer sun.
People using near-shore waters can have an adverse
impact on aquatic resources. It can result from
activities occurring on the beach itself or from points
within the coastal watershed that drain to an area of
the beach. Marine debris, such as litter left on the
beach after a picnic, is an example of a local impact.
The near-shore is defined as an indefinite zone
extending seaward from the shoreline well beyond the
breaker zone. It defines the area where the current
system is caused primarily by wave action. Marine debris
is trash floating on the ocean or washed up on beaches.
It comes from many sources, including beachgoers,
improper disposal of trash on land, storm water runoff
to rivers and streams, ships and other vessels, and
offshore oil and gas platforms.
Water pollution that affects our beaches comes from many
sources, some close to the ocean and some very far away.
Due to gravity, all water flows downhill through a
watershed and picks up pollutants from the land along
A watershed refers to a combination of streams, rivers,
bays, and estuaries that water flows through to
eventually reach the ocean. In addition to the
pollutants picked up from land, wastes discharged into
local waterways also eventually reach the ocean.
Pollution of coastal environments threatens the use of
beaches as an economic, recreational, and aesthetic
resource. Water quality problems and debris not only
harm the sensitive aquatic habitat in the near-shore
waters but are aesthetically displeasing as well.
Some typical impacts from activities farther up in the
watershed include poor water quality from excessive
nutrients and from litter washed into storm drains.
Sewage discharged from vessels can also be visually
repulsive and decreases the use of water-bodies for
contact sports, such as swimming, water skiing, and
Water sports in or ingesting waters contaminated with
microorganisms (pathogens) can result in human health
problems such as sore throat, gastroenteritis, or even
meningitis or encephalitis.
In addition, sewage released in the vicinity of
shellfish beds pose a public health problem. Because
shellfish are filter feeders, they concentrate the
pathogens in their tissue, thereby causing the shellfish
to be unsafe for human consumption.
The most notable diseases potentially transmitted by the
ingestion of shellfish contaminated with the pathogens
are gastroenteritis, dysentery, infectious hepatitis,
and typhoid fever.
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