The diversity and species composition of the intertidal sandy beaches in the southern Pacific coast of Costa Rica were studied by means of cores collected along perpendicular transects to the beaches. The numbers of strictly marine species varied between 5 to 13 taxa, representing an intermediate value compared to those previously reported for these environments in Costa Rica. The isopod Cirolana salvadorensis was the dominant species in the supralittoral zone, whereas polychaete worms belonging to the families Nereididae and Pisionidae dominated the low intertidal zone. Others organisms collected in the beaches were the crabs of the genus Uca, anomurans crabs (Emerita), sand dollars (Mellita longifissa) and several taxa of polychaete tubeworms, such as the Onuphidae, Spionidae, Magelonidae, and Glyceridae. The high faunal difference among the sites is possibly explained by their exposure to the wave energy, with fewer individuals in the more reflective beaches. In addition, human activities might also be responsible for the low infaunal diversity found in some of these beaches. This is the first effort to describe the benthonic fauna of beaches from this area.

Keywords: Sand beach, vertical zonation, marine biodiversity, Punta Burica, human impacts.