Ximena Velez-Zuazo

Ximena Velez-ZuazoCountry: Peru is my natal rookery and Puerto Rico my feeding ground.

Occupation: Ecologist and conservation geneticist. Co-PI of Grupo de Tortugas Marinas-Peru

Specialty: Ecology, landscape genetics, conservation of marine ecosystems
Best part about my job:Having the chance to work both in the field and in the laboratory, to travel to remote areas, to get to know people from around the world, to contribute to the conservation of marine resources.

Biggest challenges I face: (I still face it): to convince my colleagues in Peru that the discipline of conservation genetics is not an extravagance but a research discipline that needs to be promoted and supported in our scientific community.

The most unusual or exciting thing that’s happened to me while working in the field: During a trip to Raja Ampat (Indonesia) while conducting in-water surveys to find new sea turtle foraging aggregations I was “kindly” attacked by a small costal shark after I jumped from a boat to the beach. The shark came out of the water and knocked himself against my ankle. I think my foot was a big bite so he revolved in the sand for a second and return to the water. I was jumping and screaming while the rest of the crew was laughing.

Why I like being a member of the MTSG: Because I have the chance to interact with diverse scientists and conservationists, learn from them and contribute to sea turtle and marine ecosystems conservation.

Turtle researcher / conservationist I most admire: Nicholas Mrosovsky, Carlos Diez and Robert van Dam. From them I have learned that it is our responsibility to think critically and to have an opinion even when this means going against the current.

When I’m not working on turtles I like to: Cook for my friends (with all the paraphernalia), pretend that I will be the next star of the US Open when playing tennis with Mitch and finally to be a circus show on the beach while learning how to surf (still not giving up on that).

Ten years from now, I hope I will be doing: Maybe the same (conservation genetics) or maybe something else that also contributes to the conservation of marine ecosystems.

Relevant links to find out more about me and my work: …about my work look for research papers (that push me to keep writing), about me go to www.pasodetortuga.blogspot.com (seriously trying to keep it updated)