Changing sands at Praia do Barril

At the beginning of this year we were somewhat amazed by the works taking place at Praia do Barril. We couldn’t quite work out what they were doing, although we knew the aim was to protect the beach from the sands. In March we discovered that whatever they were doing had been swept away by the winter storms, and we were curious as to whether they would continue. And last week we discovered they had.

It seems they had been ‘raising’ the beach in the stretch immediately in front of the anchors and old tuna station. We presume that the pipes they had located in the san ds have also somehow ‘strengthened’ the sand, perhaps by lowering the water level, so it won’t be washed away. As whilst a 5ft raise seems enormous to me at 5ft2 it is nothing to the Atlantic. One of our friends thinks it might be a deliberate temporary barrier. A quick fix to protect the anchors this winter, with a longer term solution to follow next year.

I wonder if they’ve considered how the raising will impact elsewhere. We noticed that the beach to the east of the works was looking and behaving quite different to previous visits, which suggests perhaps not.

Rest of beach
Atlantic now easily reaches the sand dunes

There is evidence that defences are not necessarily the best way forward, instead communities and authorities should perhaps “think about rollback, adaptation and realignment, and allow the undeveloped parts of the coast to function more naturally”. And research in Portugal has also suggested that rollback is probably the answer here, these beaches after all are nothing more than moving sandbars. I wonder though what the gulls and sanderlings think?!

Birds on the Beach

Author: BeckyB

It's a good life walking, cooking, photographing, volunteering, reading, blogging, and best of all spending time with family, friends & the cat!

23 thoughts

  1. They do beach renourishments here in South Carolina the storms cause such erosion, I would not want to take a guess on the long term effects of this, you have a beautiful beach there

    1. Thank you Alice, the Algarvian beaches are rather amazing. Interesting they are doing similar things on the other side of the Atlantic. I wonder if you have any Portuguese sand mixed up in your beach work?!

  2. The sea carves cliffs much higher than these after a storm here in Cornwall. As Brian said, the action of the sea is unpredictable and we mess around with it at our own peril. I cannot see a 5 foot bank holding back the Atlantic!

    1. That’s what we thought! And the storms do seem to be getting wilder. They’ve spent a fortune though on moving the sand so they must think it is going to work.

  3. Essa areia foi toda posta nas ilhas em nome do Programa Polis Ria Formosa que dizia ser a renaturalização das Ilhas da Ria Formosa e custou 87000500€ aos dinheiros públicos da U.E.
    O curioso é que quem lucrou com esse programa foram os donos das dragas que andaram a abrir e fechar barras na Fuzeta em Cacela Velha Barrinha de São Luis em Faro.
    Também não se sabe como é que os esgotos domésticos de Olhão continuam a envenenar as águas da Rede Natura 2000 que é maior zona de produção, onde se produz amêijoas ostras berbigões:

  4. It has worked at least temporarily at Praia Dona Ana in Lagos. As soon as you interfere with the coast,for example in creating the port and marina, there will be consequences elsewhere.Man has always tried to manage the marine environment.

  5. Grew up in S Devon port town ,where the sand movement has been a constant problem,since ships grew in size.
    Many studies later,and considerable expenditure sums ,still a problem.
    Force of nature….
    Liked the exposé.

  6. The deposition of sand on the beaches is called nourishment. The actions of the sea is unpredictable and the beaches will always be dynamic. It is man who insists that they always are the same. The sand will always come and go. It is the destruction of the dunes for sand and minerals and the removal of vegetation for views which is the cause of mankinds angst. Let nature do it’s thing and forget the commercial gain for a few wealthy individuals.
    Here endeth my environmental rant for the day.
    Love the birds Becky 🙂

    1. I’m with you on this, really worries me that what they’ve done is going to cause huge problems elsewhere, and it has cost millions 😒

      1. Oh yes. Moving sand from one place to another and depleting the sand there and the groynes and river mouth protection stops the movement of sand

Love to hear your thoughts