Roderic Mast

Country: USA

Occupation: Conservationist (degrees in marine biology, and cross-cultural management). VP at Conservation International, where I head the Sea Turtle Flagship Program and the CI-Sojourns major donor travel program

Specialty: Conserving biodiversity in tropical Hotspots and Wilderness Areas in the Americas, Southern Africa and Madagascar and Asia/Pacific. I’ve loved sea turtles and all herps since childhood. I have published a bit about primates and conservation priority setting, and have worked on amphibian conservation too. These days, I do a lot of organizing, strategizing and fundraising. I am a photographer and I can skip stones very well (world class, actually).

Best part about my job: Lots of travel to exciting places, and meeting wonderful folks from all over the world that also love sea turtles

Biggest challenges I face: Deciding which important-urgent-high priority item to work on first, and how to include my family in all my fun

The most unusual or exciting thing that’s happened to me while working in the field: I was rammed by a dolphin (broke 2 ribs) and nearly poisoned by a highly venomous frog in Colombia all in one week; I was stranded atop a remote tepui in Venezuela with a famous actor; and recently, I hunted and ate a porcupine with Kalahari bushmen on the Namibia/Botswana border.

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 good folk, and I like being around them, and I relish the feeling of camaraderie that comes from the pursuit of our common purpose. I like the people part of conservation in general – communications, marketing, and organization-building.

Turtle researcher / conservationist I most admire: In general, I can thank Jacques Cousteau for influencing me as a kid. My friend, Russ Mittermeier, is an inspiration as well. As for turtle-people, Javier Alvarado in Michoacan; Carlos Mario Orrego in Ostional; Miguel on the Osa Peninsula; Jeanne Mortimer in Seychelles. Brian Hutchinson… And countless others who work hard and care a lot.

When I’m not working on turtles I like to: Change the hearts and investments of philanthropists by creating and guiding life-changing travel experiences to tropical hotspots and 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. My kids will be helping me by then. 

Relevant links to find out more about me and my work: Conservation International