Carlos Mario Orrego Vasquez

Country: Colombian citizen, but I have been living in Costa Rica for 10 years.

Occupation: Research fellow, I am currently the Director of Ostional National Wildife Refuge, Costa Rican Ministry of Environment and Energy

Specialty: I am a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and have a Master’s Degree in Wildlife Management and Conservation

Best part about my job: Henry Ford said, “Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal.” I am one of those people who, even in the face of extreme adversity, refused to take my eyes off the goals; those goals continue to be a lifelong career in medicine and wildlife management and conservation, especially with sea turtles and communities.

Biggest challenges I face: Deciding which important-urgent-high priority item to work on first and how to include the communities in wildlife management and conservation.

The most unusual or exciting thing that’s happened to me while working in the field: Ten years ago, on a remote beach in Costa Rica, I was working with olive ridleys, and due to lack of fresh water I was occasionally forced to drink potentially contaminated water. One day I developed fever, vomiting, and pain and I was to be evacuated by boat in rough seas. High tide made a bad situation even worse, and soon the boat flipped. Once again, I found myself floating toward an uncertain destiny. Eventually, another fishing boat rescued us and we were delivered to a hospital. I was diagnosed with Leptospirosis disease. For the next month, I was confined to a hospital bed while others with the same disease died right next to me. Once again, I kept my eyes on the goal and survived my painful ordeal. I am now back on the beach working in the wildlife management and conservation of sea turtles.

Why I like being a member of the MTSG: It’s all about the people. People who care about sea turtles and the fate of turtles and their ocean habitats are very friendly and I like being around them, and I relish the feeling of camaraderie that comes from the pursuit of our common purpose. Finally, I think it is a good way to motivate sea turtle research in the world.

Turtle researcher / conservationist I most admire: The people who helped me in my job and pushed me forward: Roderic Mast, Roldan Valverde, Thierry Work, Jack Frazier, Carlos Drews, Didiher Chacon, and Hedelvy Guada; and countless others who work hard and care a lot in the wildlife management and conservation of sea turtles.

When I’m not working on turtles I like to: Read about wildlife conservation, run in the morning, watch movies and sometimes wildernesses around the world.

Ten years from now, I hope I will be doing: The same stuff. It doesn’t get any better than this.

Relevant links to find out more about me and my work: Costa Rican Ministry of Environment and Energy