Sandy Beaches are the most Common

Beaches are found in many of the world’s coastal regions, as well as along the shores of major rivers and lakes. Beaches are great for economies because they are the top tourist attractions. There are numerous ways of classifying beaches, one being their classification based on their composition. Sand, boulders, shingle, and shells are the main materials that make up the beaches, causing there to be sandy, pebble, boulder, and shell beaches.

Sandy beaches are the most common of all beach types in the world, and they are found pretty much on in all continents on earth. This type of beach occurs typically on coasts which experience low-energy waves, which deposit the sand to the beach after being transported by ocean currents/ sandy beaches are most susceptible to backwash erosion, with powerful storms and tsunamis having the potential of stripping a beach of its sand. To make up for the erosion of sand, drastic measures have been employed. Beach nourishment is sources from other places and deposited on the beach. These types of beaches are the habitat of more marine creatures than any other and are known for being the incubation sites of sea turtle eggs. An example of a sandy beach is Australia’s Eighty Mile beach which is the longest sandy beach on earth. Pebbles are found on almost all beaches on earth.

However, there are few beaches in the world that are entirely composed of pebbles, which are known as pebble beaches. According to worldatlas.com the pebbles that cover these beaches vary in size, ranging between 0.1 and 7.9 inches in diameter with larger pebbles often being found nearer to the shore. These beaches are formed after pebbles carried by ocean currents are deposited on the shore by high-energy waves. Pebble beaches are excellent in the prevention of backwash erosion and dissipation of wave energy due to their porous nature. Pebble beaches are picturesque, and since they are not as popular among tourists, they are less crowded making them ideal for a private beach experience.

Also known as shingle beaches, these types of places are popular among rock collectors. Most of the pebbles found on shingle beaches are made from magnetite, granite, pumice, and flint rocks. An example of a shingle beach would be Dungeness in England. Boulder beaches are named due to the boulders that cover their shorelines. The size of boulders found on these beaches range from tiny pebbles to huge house-sized boulders.

An example is the Valguan boulder beach, situated in Batanes, Philippines. The beach is one of the true boulder beaches in the world, as the shoreline is entirely made up of boulders. The andesite boulders are thought to have been deposited on the beach from the volcanic eruption of mount Iraya in 400CE. Waves from the pacific that have pounded on the boulders for centuries have polished their edges, giving them their smooth surface. Shell beaches are almost entirely made up of shells. The shells that cover these beaches are mainly from dead mollusks and are deposited on the shore by waves. In some of the beaches the shell layer can be dozens of feet in depth. Only quite a few and only two exist that are true shell beaches which are Australia’s shell beach and Sanibel shell beach of the United States.

The coastal zone is the part of the land surface influenced by marine processes. It extends from the landward limit of tides, waves, and wind-blown coastal dunes, and seaward to the point at which waves interact significantly with the seabed. This zone is a dynamic part of Earth’s surface where both marine and atmospheric processes produce rocky coasts, as well as beaches and dunes, barriers and tidal inlets. Major marine processes are waves and tides, together with water temperature and salinity. The coast also supports rich ecosystems, including salt marshes, mangroves, sea grass, and coral reeds. The diverse coastal ecology is favored by the shallow waters, abundant sunlight, terrestrial and marine nutrients, tidal and wave flushing, and a range of habitat types. Ocean waves are generated by wind blowing over the ocean surface. The stronger the wind, the longer it blows and the longer the fetch, or stretch of ocean over which it blows.

Tidal energy is produced by the surge of ocean waters during the rise and fall of tides. Tidal energy is a renewable source of energy. During the 20th century engineers developed ways to use tidal movement to generate electricity in areas where there is a large tidal range. All methods use special generators to covert tidal energy into electricity. Tidal energy is still in its new stages. The amount of power produced so far has been small. There are few commercial-sized tidal power plants operating in the world. The first was located in France. The largest facility is in the Shiwa Lake Tidal Power Station in South Korea. The United States has no tidal plants and only a small number of sites where tidal energy could be produced at a reasonable price. Other countries like China, France, England, Canada, and Russia have much more potential to use this type of energy. In the USA, there are concerns about underwater land ownership and environmental impact. There are currently three different ways to get tidal energy: tidal streams, barrages, and tidal lagoons. For most generators, turbines are placed in tidal streams. A tidal stream is fast-flowing body of water created by tides. A turbine is a machine that takes energy from a flow of fluid. That fluid can be air meaning wind or liquid meaning water. Because water is denser than air, tidal energy is more powerful than wind energy. Tides are more predictable and more stable than air. These tide generators produce a steady, reliable stream of electricity. Another type of tidal energy generator uses a large damn called a barrage. With a barrage, water can spill over the top or through turbines in the dam because a dam is lower. Barrages can be built across tidal rivers, bays, and estuaries. Turbines inside the barrage harness the power of tides the same way a river dam harnesses the power of a river. The barrage gates are open as the tide rises. At high tide, the barrage gates close, creating a pool or tidal lagoon. The water is later released through the turbines, creating energy at a rate that can be controlled by engineers.

The final type of tidal energy generator involves the construction of tidal lagoons. A tidal lagoon is a body of ocean water that is partly enclosed by a natural or manmade barrier. Tidal lagoons can be built along the natural coastline. This type of power could also generate continuous power. The turbines work as the lagoon is filling and emptying. The environmental impact of tidal lagoons is minimal. The lagoons can be built with natural materials like rock. They would appear as a low sea wall at low tide, and be submerged at high tide. Animals could swim around the structure, and smaller organisms could swim inside it. But the energy output from this type of energy could be low.

A spit is a land form of costal deposition. It is described as an extended stretch of beach material that sticks out to sea and then is joined at the mainland at one end. Longshore drift moves material along a coastline. When the coastline changes direction or the power of the waves is reduced, material being moved by the sea is deposited. The sediment that is deposited usually builds up over the years to form a long ridge of materials like usually sand or shingle. The ridge is called a spit. Spit is an unstable landform. It will continue to grow until the water becomes too deep or until the material is removed faster than it is deposited. Where a coastline changed shape, the waves begin to lose energy so deposition occurs. And the spit begins to grow out to sea. The wind makes the swash approach the shore at an angle. Longshore drift moves material in a zig zag way along the beach.

Moving throughout the ocean, not seen by the naked eye, are many microscopic algae. They come in many shapes and sizes. These algae are important to ocean life. But they can also multiply uncontrollably, becoming an unwanted mass commonly called a “red tide” that smothers ocean life. This large growth of algae can become dangerous to the environment and humans. When nutrients from inland areas flow down rivers and arrive in the ocean they supply a great source for algae, causing them to grow quickly. The species Karenia Brevis, color the ocean surface a deep red, gaining the name “red tide. But not all red tides are red and not all of them even become dense enough to color the water. There are also “brown tides” which can be damaging as well. The presence of a red tide is noticed due to its effect on the rest of the ecosystem. Humans and ocean life are affected by the toxins. A bad algal bloom will not only smell bad enough to make people not want to visit the beach, but it can also cause illness to swimmers. It also affects the tourism industry, when a red tide occurs it can cause an annual loss of roughly 82 million dollars. That includes the sales for restaurants, hotels, and other tourist spots in the USA. Shellfish can be affected by the tide as well, and consumption of tainted shellfish lead to major illness like rapid heartbeat, digestion issues, coordination issues, or even death. Red times can also strip the water of dissolved oxygen, causing a “dead zone”.

Coral reefs are some of the most diverse ecosystems in the world. They house tens of thousands of marine species. About one-third of all marine fish species live part of their lives on coral reefs. Corals are ancient and are related to jellyfish and anemones. An individual coral is known as a polyp. Which is a very small and simple organism made up mostly of a stomach topped by a tentacle-bearing mouth. The polyps extend their tentacles at night to sting and ingest tiny organisms called plankton and other small creatures. When thousands of identical polyps live together it is called a coral colony. The polyps excrete a calcium carbonate exoskeleton. Over a long period, the skeletons of many colonies add up to build the coral reef. Species like fish, invertebrates, algae, and microorganisms make their homes on and around the reef. Reefs usually only occur in shallow areas that are able to be reached by sunlight. Coral reefs are found all over the world in tropical and subtropical oceans. Some coral reefs extend up to 450 ft. deep. Despite the importance of coral reefs, a recent report estimated that 75% of remaining coral reefs are currently threatened, and many have already been lost. Rising seawater temperature caused by climate change is one of the most serious causes of stress to coral reefs. When temperatures are too high, the relationship between corals and their microalgae breaks down. Higher temperatures allow corals to become sick more easily. Other issues that affect coral reefs are overfishing, pollution, invasive species, and more.

This was by far my favorite paper to write and conduct research for. I love learning about the ocean. It was so interesting to find out more about coral reefs, beaches, waves, landforms, and more. My favorite thing to learn about was the coral reefs. I have never got to see one in person, but I hear and see a lot of people talking about how we need to take better care of the ocean and coral reefs. Only a small percentage of the ocean has been explored, so I wonder what else is out there.

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