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Beach - Definition, Formation, Wild & Public Beaches, Film, Habitat & More.

Author C. Sanders. Published on May 21, 2011 - 3:27 am (10356 views — 1506 words)

What defines a beach?

A beach is a location that exists as the shoreline of a lake or ocean. Most often when referring to a beach, we simply think of a trip to Florida, forgetting that lakes also have them.

The "beach" which we might quickly assume is composed of only sand and shells, can also consist of other types of rock (gravel, shingle, pebbles, waves or even cobblestones).

Shell fragments, which are of a biological origin are responsible for a huge part of the makeup of typical coastline beaches. Often times, tourists go seashell hunting, picking up shells that are laying on the beach close to the water. When they get those shells home, they discover that the shell will have moved from one location to the next, as the tiny critter still living inside has tried to escape captivity and discover its way back home. Sadly, these critters usually can't survive for very long without their natural habitat.

Wild Beaches

The term "wild beach" is given to any beach that does not have lifeguards, or a loud environment around them, such as hotels, resorts, and businesses. They are often called "undeclared", "undeveloped", or even "undiscovered" beaches. These beaches are generally valued for their undisturbed beauty and natural placement of elements that has not been trampled by millions of visitors every year. This type of beach is most commonly found in less developed areas such as Indoesia, Thailand, Philippines, and Puerto Rico.

What forms a beach?

There are several factors in play that determine the shape, size, and overall appearance of a beach. The part of the beach that is mostly above water (depending on the tide) and actively influenced by the waves is called the "beach berm". The berm is the active shoreline, composed of material deposits. The top of the berm is known as the "crest", and what is known as the "face" is the slope leading down to the water itself, from the top of the berm (crest). Every wave that rolls in will greatly influence, and change the appearance of the beach. What prevents a beach from having a naturally high crest and slope is the traffic it sees throughout the day by visitors. If a beach is left alone for two weeks, it will start to lose its flat appearance and create a crest that can be a straight drop-off to the water 4-8 feet tall. These are beautiful designs found more often in wild beaches. Foot traffic tramples this natural design which is why the sand seems to generally run smoothly into the water, without a cliff-like structure.

Wind, rather than water has a big part of the shaping of a beach as well. When wind is the force that spreads the sand or other deposits across the beach, sending the grains inland, the deposit behind the beach becomes what is known as a dune.

It has been difficult to determine what separates the main part of the beach, and where the dunes begin. The easiest universal agreement, though not always completely accurate has been recognized that where the flat surface of the beach begins to form a slight to drastic incline away from the water, will be known as the dunes.

Beaches as habitat.

Beaches are a rather unstable environment due to often harsh conditions of wind, and waves. Some small creatures burrow deeply into the sand for protection, and feed on things washed in by waves. Crabs, shorebirds and other insects feed on these little beach dwellers. The Piping Plover (endangered), and certain 'tern' species rely solely on beaches for their nesting. Sea turtles are also among those that lay eggs on ocean beaches. Sea grass and other plant life grow in undisturbed real estate areas of the beach and the dunes.

Beaches in film and television.

In one of the most terrible films of all time, "The Beach" starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel York, and Patcharawan Patarkjjanon, twenty-something 'Richard' travels to Thailand and finds himself in possession of a strange map. Rumors state that it leads to a solitary beach paradise, a tropical bliss. Excited and intrigued, Richard sets out to find it. The scenery of the wild beaches is truly what makes this film barely bearable to watch. The rest is, well, an unforgettable nightmare in film.

The extremely popular American television series "Lost", originally airing on the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) consisted of six seasons. It is a drama series that follows closely the lives of various individuals, though mostly the survivors of a plane crash that was flying between Sydney, Australia and Los Angeles, California. The setting for this series, a beautiful island with gorgeous beach fronts adds a great deal to the story of this series.

The worlds top 6 beaches.

1) Copacabana Beach, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.

* A borough located in the city of Rio De Janeiro, famous for its 2.5 miles of gorgeous beach. The area was originally called Sacopenapa, until the 18th century. It adapted it's new name after the construction of a chapel that holds a replica of the Virgin of Copacabana, the patron saint of Bolivia. Copacabana starts at Princesa Isabel Avenue and ends at Posto Seis near the Forte de Copacabana. There are 63 hotels and 10 hostels in Copacabana.

2) Waikiki, Hawaii.

* Waikiki is an area of Honolulu on the south shore of island Oahu, Hawaii. It is one of the most well-known beaches in the entire world. The beach is considered the center of the tourist industry in Hawaii, with countless hotels and high-rise resorts. It even has historic hotels dating back to the early 20th century.

3) Cancun, Mexico.

* Known for its gorgeous light blue water, Cancun is a coastal city in Mexico's easternmost state, Quintana Roo. It is a world-renowned tourist resort.

4) Surfer's Paradise, Australia.

* Surfers Paradise is a suburb on the Gold Coast in Queensland. Common name is "Surfers". It is known for its many high-rise apartment buildings and gorgeous wide surf beach.

5) Negril, Jamaica.

* Negril is a large beach resort located across parts of two Jamaican parishes, Westmoreland and Hanover.

6) South Beach, Florida.

* South Beach is a section of Miami Beach, Florida that encompasses the southernmost 23 blocks of an island separating the Atlantic Ocean and Biscayne Bay. The 1926 hurricane destroyed much of the area, but tourism continues to soar.

Sunscreen; protection from dangerous sun rays.

This can be argued, but studies have shown that the best sunscreen available is "La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL Lait SPF". Why is it considered the best? This sunscreen contains a chemical called "Mexoryl", well known around the world to protect skin from wrinkle-causing UVA rays. Most other sunscreens simply protect from UVB rays. How good is it? According to Dr. Vincent DeLeo, chairman of dermatology at Columbia University, "It produces a product which gives us almost perfect protection against sunshine". This product can generally be found for $20 - $30 USD on average.

Safety tips for visiting the beach, and hot climates.

Other than sunscreen, and equally if not more important is hydration. Hydration isn't drinking a gallon of water and then going out in the sun thinking you are "good to go". Hydration is actually a process that can't be forced by drinking large amounts of water in a short amount of time. To properly hydrate the body takes several days of drinking large amounts of water. In order to withstand the heat of certain locations, it is vital to prepare before attempting to go out in these environments. The best practice to ensure proper hydration and avoiding heat stroke is to check your urine. If it's yellow, you need to drink more water. If it's dark yellow, do NOT stay out in the heat, or you might find yourself touring the local hospital if you're lucky enough to be noticed and transported to one. Even in the mornings, if you are properly hydrated, your urine should be clear to almost-clear.

Dangerous marine life.

It is advisable to do research on potentially life threatening marine life (Jellyfish in particular) for locations that you are thinking about touring. Even if you don't plan on swimming in the water, this is still a good practice, as you can simply step on a wet tentacle that has washed up and still be poisioned.

Swim during daylight hours only.

It is highly advisable not to enter the water at night, due to various different things. You can be carried out by the sea in the blink of an eye due to dangerous undercurrent that you can't visibly see (even in the daytime). If you are ever being sucked outward away from the shoreline, try not to panic. Just remember to swim parallel to the shoreline and not directly into shore. This will be your only chance at escaping the deadly currents from taking you out and under. Another good reason not to swim at night is because that is when sharks travel closer to the beach to feed.