Conservationists Plan to Use 3D Printed Turtle Eggs to Catch Poachers

If you're thinking about poaching turtle eggs, I recommend you reconsider.

7. 19. 16 by Charmaine Caparas

Turtle Egg Business

A conservation group is hoping to catch poachers using 3D printed sea turtle eggs containing GPS trackers.

The 3D eggs were created by Paso Pacífico to help law enforcement officials and activists crack down on the big players involved in poaching. 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. This causes a severe threat to the conservation of this endangered species.

The 3D printed eggs could easily pass for any of the millions of real eggs laid and buried every year by endangered sea turtles on the beaches along the North and Central American coasts. The eggs are set to be deployed this fall in Central America during an arribada, or mass nesting event when 90 percent of eggs will be poached from certain beaches.

Image: Teresa Shumaker

Reviving Sea Turtle Population

According to Kim Williams-Guillén, director of conservation science at Paso Pacífico, being able to determine the players with money who are really driving the trade and removing even a small number of them could have a huge effect.


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. Paso Pacifico says without protection, 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.

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