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3D printed turtle eggs to be used to detect poaching

The 3D eggs created by Conservation group Paso Pacífico could easily pass for any of the millions of ping pong ball-size eggs laid and buried every year by endangered sea turtles on the beaches along the North and Central American coasts. The group plans to create a tracking map on the movement of eggs to help law enforcement officials and activists to crack down on the big players involved in poaching.

Kim Williams-Guillén, director of conservation science at Paso Pacífico says:

We want to sneak them into nests that are most vulnerable to poaching. It would be really easy for them to grab one of those eggs and not even notice it. We’re not planning on collecting data in real time, unless that’s something that they express real interest in. It’s certainly a possibility. Being able to determine the players with money who are really driving the trade and removing even a couple of them could have a huge effect.

Sea turtle eggs are considered a delicacy and aphrodisiac in various cultures. Millions of sea turtle eggs are stolen each year with each one costing anywhere from $5 to $20 apiece causing severe threat to the endangered species.

Sarah Otterstrom, the Project’s founder and director says:

Poaching pressure is extremely intense. There can be thousands of turtles on the beach at night. And if there isn’t protection, we can be pretty certain that the beaches will be poached and without guards, about 90 percent of the nests are poached. The fake egg is a way to shift the focus away from the poachers – who make between 50 cents and $2 per dozen eggs in Nicaragua.

Conservation efforts by various countries, particularly in North and Central America has caused a revival of sea turtle population during the past decade. Record numbers of sea turtle nests were reported in parts of South Eastern United States this year.

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