Once a famed Bocas del Toro fisherman, Inocencio “Chencho” Castillo has made it his life’s mission to watch over the same turtles he used to kill. “My wife told me to take the chance, to see if things would turn out for the better,” Chencho said. “And since 1989, I’ve seen the changes. A conservationist change.”

Bocas del Toro is a tropical region on the Caribbean coast of Panama, know mostly for its picturesque beaches and topography. Until the early 21st century, the coral reef in Bocas del Tora was teeming with life and vibrant colors. Several different issues in the region have caused the reef to turn to a mute brown as it struggles for its life. Many sea creatures—including the sea turtle have relocated in an effort to survive. In the last century alone, there has been a devastating decline in the population of hawksbill turtles with over 80 percent of the population disappearing.

Castillo is a prime example of those being moved by the suffering ecology to make a life-changing move in the region. “Scientists say that out of a thousand turtles, just one can survive. But I don’t believe that,” Chencho says. “I think that number is too little.”