Living by the Rules of the Sea is a primer for people living along the nation's coastlines, those considering moving to the coast, or those who want a greater understanding of the risks and dangers posed by living at the seacoast. Published as part of Duke University Press's Living with the Shore series, but without a direct focus on the coastline of one particular state, this book is intended as an overall guide to coastal physical processes, risk assessment of potential property damage from coastal natural hazards, and property damage mitigation.
Over the past twenty years, the authors have mapped and studied most of the barrier islands in the United States and have experienced coastal processes such as storms and shoreline retreat at close range. They represent a coastal geology/oceanographic perspective that is decidedly in favor of preserving the natural protective capabilities of the native coastal environment. While strongly anti-engineering in outlook, Living by the Rules of the Sea does provide a review of coastal engineering techniques. It also examines methods of repairing damage to the natural environment that lessen the prospect of further property damage. Finally, it employs a more inclusive "coastal zone" approach rather than simply concentrating on a more narrowly defined shoreline. Barrier islands are viewed as part of a larger system in which changes in one part of the system—for example, the mining of sand dunes or dredging offshore for beach replenishment sand—can have profound effects on another part of the system, predictable effects even though they may not be visible for years or decades.
A comprehensive handbook with references to recent storms including hurricanes Andrew, Gilbert, Hugo, Emily, and Opal, Living by the Rules of the Sea is designed to help people make better and more informed choices about where or if to live at the coast.