Diomedes works as a Sea Turtle Conservation Technician with the Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC) in their Panama satellite location. He works within a Ngäbe-Buglé indigenous reserve, as well as on other beaches in Bocas del Toro, Panama. His main duty is to patrol the beaches at night and record information about female turtles as they nest on the beach. Additionally, he relocates sea turtle nests and monitors them until hatchlings make it to sea.
Diomedes still remembers a time when people from his community would hunt turtles for their eggs or shells, and then leave what remained of them on the beach. Thanks to environmental education and policy, this is no longer a common occurrence. In fact, poachers are now charged if they are in possession of a sea turtle or her eggs. However, the illegal trade of turtles can be hard to regulate in some remote areas where Diomedes and other technicians work.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in early March, Panamanians have been subjected to restrictions on movement and commerce. Additionally, tourism has lulled due to the virus, leaving many out of work and in precarious situations. Diomedes is proud to be a conservation technician and strives to move the project forward, but mentions that this nesting season has been particularly stressful.
As imagined, law enforcement and local government are preoccupied with the Novel Coronavirus. He reports that poachers have stolen a high percentage of total eggs from registered nests, resulting in a low birth rate this season. To share a silver lining, he mentions that he has not seen any badly injured turtles this season. He also says that the decrease in boat traffic around tourist areas has been great for turtles.
Diomedes hopes that his organization can continue to use environmental education to inform the community of the benefits of sea turtle conservation. He is confident that community attitudes towards conservation will change once the community begins to capitalize on emerging ecotourism projects, such as guided turtle walks.