The life of a sea turtle is kind of rough.
On top of fishing nets and increased plastic pollutants in the oceans that are impacting turtles, more are coming under attack before they even leave the shell. A growing number of poachers are now swiping sea turtle eggs from nests on beaches, and selling them locally as food products.
In Costa Rica, the most sought after species is the green and olive Ridley sea turtle, which is classified as an endangered species. However, thanks to some local biologists, there is now a way to possibly stop this.
In an effort to track down these poachers, the group of biologists began 3D printing fake turtle eggs using a material called Ninja Flex. The material is able to combine the squishy feel of the eggs with the dimensions and color of a ping pong ball. The feel is especially important because these poachers typically work at night. After the fake eggs are printed, the InvestEGGator is sliced in half and a small GPS tracker that works off of a cellular connection is placed in the middle of it. The two halves are then glued back together.
Once the InvestEGGator is grabbed, researchers can use cell towers and Google Maps to track how and where the eggs are being sold – which is typically through a local grocery store or by the poacher going door-to-door.
To help deter this activity, biologists work with local law enforcement to catch violators, and raise awareness within the local community about the challenges facing these turtles.
The simple design and cost-effective nature of the InvestEGGator offers the double benefit of being easy to produce and easier to employ around the world.