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Sand dunes
The information presented here has been written by Ted Brambleby, Adventure Education,
Marine Environments Field Study and Resource Centre, Hastings Point Beach, NSW

Skin Care Stategies or Dune Management

If we look upon the Environmental barriers of beach and dunes as a skin structure that protects the vitality and vulnerability of inner eco systems or "tissues" it becomes easy to appreciate acts of ignorant misuse or deliberate abuse.

Photo courtesy Harry Breidahl from www.southernshores.auz.info Beach litter
Beach Litter

Rubbish that gets flushed down storm water drains might be temporarily our of sight but after being gushed into our rivers or straight out to sea will if it has a floating component invariably end up on our beaches as ugly litter or Jetsam. The look of our skin often reflects the state of our inner health, what we allow into our blood stream and what chemical abuse we expose our outer bodies too.

Sea mammals (seals) sea birds, fish etc are part of a web indispensable to the wellbeing of coastal inter dependant ecosystems which comprise many links or bridges between these environments eg flathead, mullet, black bream, pelicans, cormorants, terns and fish can be often seen with masses of entangled fishing line hooked into their mouths.

The 20% of Tasmanian breeding seals with circulation impairing and ulcer forming neck collars made from fishing ropes, nets or bait box straps ebbing in and out on beach tides and the number of terminally ill turtles which mistakenly ingest the plastic bags for sea jelly are all legacies of our indifference to the tolerance of oceans faced with our growing epidemic of refuse.


Dunes are subjected to many
pressures by people


Protection Of Our Dunes

Whilst the beach like out tough outer layers of skin can be tolerant to intensive recreational use, careless pollution by leaching chemicals and oils can critically impair this first line of defence. Rubbish left on beaches especially of the non biodegradable variety can get back out to sea and there reach their damaging effects on wildlife eg plastic bags. Unlike the beach the frontal dune is extremely fragile.

Destruction of its vegetation established by even moderate pedestrian use or grazing by domestic animals can quickly undo the evolutionary process of succession. Even tiny patches of frontal dune loss can leave much bigger areas open to destruction as strong on shore winds target the small discrepancy, like water finding the plug hole in the sink or bacteria pouring through a microscopic puncture wound in the skin.

These winds can result in Blow out, then transgressive mobile dunes, resulting in a completely unstable dune system rapidly moving inland. Ecosystems adjacent inland establish by dune formation and stabilisation are extremely vulnerable to dune breakdown, sand swamping by the inland march of a transgressive dune kills established Woodland, Heathland and Forests. The whole process of succession has to be repeated all over again before their ecology can hope to re-establish it's original biodiversity unless these destroyed regions are nurtured, fertilised, re planted and stabilised artificially by us.

We need to look after and attend to our dunes, as we should do our skin.

Written by Ted Brambleby
Adventure Education
Marine Environments Field Study and Resource Centre
PO Box 51, Pottsville Beach 2486
Marine Museum Ph/Fax 02 6676 3402

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Find out about:

The beauty of sand dunes, more than just skin deep, but that is where it all starts
Function of dunes
Humble beginnings - The infant dune and its journey
Sand is made from 2 sources
Key members of nature's green dune squad and their significance
Beach Life Zones
Food Webs on Coastal Beaches
Skin Care Stategies or Dune Management


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