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Last updateThu, 18 Jul 2019 12am







    Tuesday, July 16, 2019-7:00:25A.M.






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Reef Tips: Shoreline Monitoring

Over the past years, I did not know what I wanted to be or do in life. However, working as a Coral Reef Initiative intern this summer has really opened up my mind about our environment and the problems that we face here in the CNMI.

As an intern, I was stationed under the Division of Coastal Resources Management’s Shoreline Monitoring Program. This team heads out to different locations and takes measurements of beach shape and width. By comparing results over time, we can determine whether a beach is accreting (gaining sand), eroding (losing sand), or remaining stable. We are most concerned about the beaches that are eroding and therefore most likely to grow smaller over time.

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Contributed photo
Contributed photo

As an intern, I heard different views from coastal planners on the beaches that are eroding. Some gave their opinions or ideas on how we could save our beaches. One particular idea was to create a seawall out of cement. I learned that in this case we might protect buildings and roads along the shoreline, but we are still likely to lose part of the sandy beach because the sand after the cement will still be eroded by the water. If our objective is to save our beach, then what can we do? I did my own research about the different ways we can protect and save our beach.

I learned that seaweed and grass can act as a natural fence to help protect our beach (Alvera-Azcarate, Ferreira, Nunes 2003). Why seaweed, you may wonder? Seaweed and grass have roots that run deep within the sand or soil. This causes the sands to clump beneath the grass or seaweed. They both act as a barrier when it comes to strong winds or when there is rough waters. With grass as fence, it can also lead to dune stabilization which also helps the beach from being eroded. With both acting as natural fences, this can cause accretion in the beach.

Although my internship is ending soon, I recently switched my major from Nursing to Natural Resource Management to help further research more ways of saving our beach and protecting our environment. Thanks to this internship, my journey to saving the reef and the environment has just begun. With the guidance and help from my peers and mentors, I can spread the knowledge and one day be a role model to others, just as they were role models to me. I hope future interns will see the importance of our reef and the environment.


Alvera-azcarate, A., Ferreira, J., & Nunes, J. (2003). Modelling eutrphication in mesotidal and macrotidal estuaries. the role of intertidal seaweeds. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 57, 4th ser., 715-724.

How do beach grasses prevent erosion? (n.d.). Retrieved from htttps://