The National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC) asks national and foreign tourists not to remove shells, stones and other resources from the beaches, since they are practices that affect natural ecosystems.The extraction of these products and by-products from wildlife is considered illegal trafficking.
“The beaches are ecosystems in a constant process of destruction, but also of construction. Waves and tides destroy beaches and, in turn, bring sediment and organic debris to rebuild them. In short, it is a very dynamic ecosystem, with a lot of energy, which is constantly changing and is very resilient.
Human actions cause many imbalances in coastal ecosystems
“However, human actions cause many imbalances in coastal ecosystems, such as the collection of shells and other materials,” said Rafael Gutiérrez, executive director of SINAC.
Studies carried out by the University of Costa Rica (UCR) indicate that, in 2020, the Pacific Marine Park registered the entry of up to 10 tons of shells, snails, corals, starfish and other marine resources resulting from confiscations and, during 2021, more than a ton of shells were seized from foreign tourists at the Juan Santamaría International Airport.
“The shells are part of the delicate balance formed by the networks between the hundreds of organisms that can coexist on the same beach. That shell that seems so precious to you could become a good home for a hermit crab or for an algae to settle.
Rather take a picture
“The best thing a tourist who visits the beaches can do, both inside or outside the Protected Wilderness Areas, is to take a picture, taking a souvenir with them, without taking away the opportunity to use it for other living beings,” Gutiérrez said.
The Wildlife Conservation Law says that whoever captures, extracts and transfers wildlife can be penalized up to 30 base salaries. However, the most serious thing is that it alters the ecological process of marine life.