Student Accidentally Brings All the Sand From the Beach Home With Them

Written by: Theo Erickson

After being investigated for sand theft, De Brie said, “There’s nothing more I can do — my hands are tide.”
Photo by Sharon Roth

Student Roxanne De Brie recently returned from her visit to La Jolla Shores only to find that all of the sand from the beach had followed her home. The sand, an integral part of beach ecology, lodged in her backpack and clothes, a danger which geologists have long warned beachgoers of. De Brie has publicly apologized, but the situation remains unresolved.

Dr. Vance Mankin, a scientist specializing in coastal environments, stated, “While beaches’ supply of sand naturally fluctuates, human intervention can deplete these sand stores. Try shopping for sea shells when sand stores are short!” De Brie has tried to return the sand to the beach, but stated that, “Immediately after stepping through my door, the sand scattered to the four winds of my 50-square-foot floor plan. I’m playing Where’s Waldo with 100 tons of sand, and I’m losing.”

However, simply returning the sand may not be easy even if De Brie could collect it. Mankin reported that adding sand to a beach, a process called “beach nourishment,” is highly regulated because of its potentially harmful and lasting effects on existing beach life. “This may be a special case because it’s exactly the same sand that’s missing, presumably still with all the crabs and microbes as before, but what about the life that’s moved onto the sandstone rocks?” Mankin postulated, gesturing to two La Jolla residents who were setting up beach chairs in the pit left by De Brie.

“Still, the benefits of having sand on the beach are several,” Mankin reported. “Sand provides habitats for many animals and plants. It also prevents erosion of cliffs and acts as storm surge protection.” Some students in Seventh College West Tower, where De Brie’s dorm is located, have recently reported feeling “like the building was about to tilt into the ocean,” but the connection between these events remains to be proven.

Mankin notes that current solutions like nourishment and protective structures may create problems in the future. “Organized retreat is hard to accept, but it may be the best solution in the long term,” said Mankin. “Sand depletion is sometimes caused by hard protection such as sea walls. Although in this case one person just walked away with all the sand, which is going to make for a weird sand bar chart.”

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