Beaches going to beleléu

Image: Ron Lach


The sea and beaches are increasingly suffering from all kinds of environmental abuse

“A dirty river bend only joins junk” (popular proverb).

What this proverb says is true, especially if we are talking about junk produced by human beings such as pet bottles, plastic bags, tires, cans, tetra brik packaging, pieces of wood, among other things, which are thrown into bodies of water. and end up stopping at a bend in the river. In addition to the known contamination of surface waters that this type of “debris” causes, its accumulation contributes to an increase in flooding in various parts of rural and urban areas.[1]

But let us not forget that inland rivers are not alone in this sad scenario. The sea and beaches also suffer a lot from this type of “abuse”. Just over two decades ago, signs of this “abuse” were being warned.

For example, the Quatro Rodas Beach Guide, from 1998, informed the reader that the beaches of Perequê Açu and Barra Seca, located in Ubatuba, “are in a cove with calm, shallow water, with a tourist terminal (for excursion buses). During the season, pollution increases at the mouth of the Indaiá River. Barra Seca is a wild stretch after the Indaiá River.”, in an excerpt quoted in the article “Praia Larda”.[2]

However, more than 20 years later, just before the start of the coronavirus pandemic in Brazilian territory, “(…) in the summer season of 2020, during the months of January and February, several types of diffusely distributed plastic waste; dead fish next to algae remains; open garbage deposits near kiosks; foam of unknown origin accumulated at the outlet of the rainwater gallery; presence of dogs on the beach (with their respective owners); scattering of religious offering objects, in addition to the presence of attendees, using suction pumps to remove the corrupt crustacean (the burrowing crustacean Callichirus major), generally used as bait for fish in fishing trips”.[3]

The picture is not much different these days. Remains of leaves and tree branches associated with various urban waste, made up of tires, car hubcaps, PET bottles, beer cans, plastic bags, among other materials, which may have been thrown directly, are frequently observed. on the beach by people or in their vicinity, or thrown into the Rio Grande, for example, located in the central part of the city of Ubatuba, and ending with the “return” by the sea itself, to form a cordon of waste, in the course of its variations of tidal levels.

With intense summer rains, the volume of this type of material tends to increase, causing the clogging of river channels, whether small or large, significantly increasing the risk of flooding and urban flooding. Several neighborhoods in municipalities on the north coast of the state of São Paulo have suffered from this type of disorder for decades. The waterproofing of the soil by road asphalt, the expansion of residential condominiums in areas of the seafront that should not be occupied, the absence of an urban drainage system compatible with the volume of water from exceptional rains, are some of the factors that contribute to this type of of situation, causing many beaches to end up in the beleléu.

The question that remains is: are we at a point of no return and is conformism leading us to have to live with this type of recurring problem, consolidating a sad 3×4 portrait of several Brazilian coastal cities?

* Heraldo Campos, geologist, he is a postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Hydraulics and Sanitation at the São Carlos School of Engineering-USP.


[1] “Tranqueira” article from 17/02/2021.

[2] “Praia Larda” of 18/12/2022.

[3] “Beach without coronavirus!” of 14/04/2020.

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