More Islands on Earth!
At Seacology, we've known that our planet contains thousands of islands of all shapes and sizes. But a recent study has found that the number of barrier islands around the world has been greatly underestimated. Using satellite imagery, researchers detected 657 more barrier islands than previous surveys indicated, bringing the new total to 2,149. Barrier islands are found along the coasts of all continents except Antarctica, with 74% of them in the northern hemisphere. Together, these islands measure about 13,000 miles--over half the circumference of the Earth!
Barrier islands are important for humans and environments, providing protection against flooding, erosion, and storms. The bays, estuaries, and lagoons created by the islands contain abundant biodiversity. Because of their proximity to waves and tides, barrier islands are one of the most flexible landforms, regularly eroding, migrating, and rebuilding over time. Unfortunately, they are often the site of coastal development, which can be detrimental to these ecosystems.
Although barrier islands are less common in the southern hemisphere, where most of Seacology's projects are located, we have many projects protecting mangrove swamps and other island coastal areas. Like barrier islands, mangroves are critical for flood and erosion prevention. Our new project near Uraniya Lagoon, Sri Lanka, is protecting 2,965 acres of mangroves and coastal swamp, including 642 acres of replanted mangroves. We also have recent mangrove replanting and protection projects in Tuvalu, Jamaica, and Kenya that conserve the coastal ecosystems as well as the inland habitats they guard.