Every day when the sun begins to go down at Guiones Beach, a ritual is repeated: locals take a little bit of time out of their schedule to go watch the sunset, tourists gather and people take the opportunity to take their dogs to the beach to play for a while. The scene is magnificent. However, that last action is illegal.
Very few people know that Guiones Beach is part of the Ostional National Wildlife Refuge, just like Pelada Beach.
According to Article 8 of the National Park Services Law, pets are forbidden from entering protected wildlife areas.
Yeimy Cedeño, regional coordinator of wildlife and environmental education programs for the Tempisque Conservation Area, SINAC, explained that one of the reasons why it is prohibited is that pets could be infected by some disease through contact with a wild animal or, on the other hand, they could prey on some species.
“Domestic animals in protected wild areas generate a harmful interaction with wildlife. In addition, in the case of beaches where sea turtles nest, they can cause a severe impact by destroying nests to eat the eggs,” the expert explained.
In the first week of July, a video circulated on social networks that featured a turtle being attacked, apparently by a dog. Cedeño explained that although they cannot confirm that the event happened like that (it could have happened in the water by a shark or a fisherman), they have analyzed how dogs affect turtle nesting.
The expert pointed out an investigation done by Dr. Carlos Mario Orrego, PhD, in which it was determined that dogs and illegal egg poaching have a serious impact on the conservation of sea turtles in Ostional Beach.
In August of 2014, The Voice of Guanacaste published a case in which a group of dogs killed a turtle on Guiones Beach. The turtle was later buried at the beach by employees of Hotel Harmony.
Although not as many turtles arrive at Guiones Beach as at Ostional, according to Tortuguiones research, from October 2015 to March 2016, they have counted 27 turtle nests and 29 births.