One of our last stops for Journey 2 was visiting Assateague Island, Chincoteague Island, and Ocean City, MD. In this environment, we observed the landscape while getting lectured on the beach and swimming in the Atlantic Ocean. They were probably the best lectures I have ever had. Some fun in the sun helps absorb more of the information, rather than reading a book. But enough bragging about how awesome my professors are, Dr. Levin was right, I will never look at a beach the same way after his lecture. I felt I had some background knowledge from growing up on the Jersey shore. I knew what a jettie was and the purpose of them but I never understood how they worked. However, I never knew that Assateague, like Long Beach Island, NJ is also a barrier Island. I now know that my house, which is on the main land right across from LBI, could either be the original barrier island, or wash-over from LBI. This was probably one of the most interesting things that I have observed.
Some environmental issues that we had learned about were why people were building groins and board walks on the beaches. I learned during my first lecture with Dr. Levin that the stone structures on the beaches where not jetties like I always thought growing up, they are in fact groins and he was not afraid to correct us. Groins are poor excuses of trying to stop beach erosions. Here is an idea on how to stop beach erosions, stop building homes, condos, and boardwalks along the beaches. A giant storm is going to hit and wipe them out anyway. This development along shore lines only breaks down what once could have been a high profile beach. That being said, building sand doons that were once closer inland and pushing them out right on the beach as a way for trying to stop the beaches from eroding away only creates an opportunity for the ocean to take that sand and move it else where along further shorelines.
We humans are creating more issues and speeding up the process of beach erosion. In a way, I almost want a giant hurricane to hit the larger cities along the coast like Ocean City and Atlantic City just to wipe out all development, that way the land is too unstable to rebuild. But that alone has its own environmental issues. Much like where I grew up in Seaside Heights, Hurricane Sandy destroyed the Jersey Shore boardwalks. The famous roller coaster acted as a symbol of the destruction from the storm because it was a land mark on the beach which was a powerful reminder of how fragile our shoreline is. The logo for rebuilding was “Stronger than the Storm”, which gave residents and reoccurring vacationers hope. In my opinion, that is false in more than one occasion. One of the main projects after the storm was to restore the beaches in time for summer. Large dredgers brought sand in from the ocean to make the beaches larger. One of the restorations they made were putting in huge sand dunes to protect the houses along the beach. The residents probably where not happy because the dunes blocked their view of the ocean, but in a matter of time, they will get their view back. Dredgers created a high profile beach and when a large storm or hurricane comes again, and they are suppose to hit more frequently, that sand is only going to return back into the ocean and move elsewhere because high profile beaches only erode into the ocean.
If only humans were respectful of their environment and its natural cycles, we would not be at the mercy of Mother Nature. Much like sea level rise, like I had talked about in my last blog, people need to accept the fact that ocean levels are rising and there is nothing we can do to stop it. We already know the negatives of dams and sea walls. They are only a temporary solution and cost too much money. Money is a whole other area of interest that poses a problem. Currently, scientists are coming up with ingenious long term solutions, but they are not being taken advantage of because of limited funds. Instead of building along the coast lines which only increases beach erosion, a better idea is to build inland a little. The repercussions of this solution will only be a little ten minute drive up the road farther than they’re used to, and in return, no home owner will have to worry about waves ripping though their homes. Not to mention, homes will have much cheaper property taxes because they will no longer be considered a water front property from a tax evaluation standpoint. This is beneficial for the homeowners, but a down fall for the town because they are not making money off the additional income from taxing water front properties. This then will stop funding for any new development by the water simply because of limited money. The objective of this blog is to be realistic about the fate of the shore lines and discuss the issues.