Finding a Partner

Paso Pacífico teamed up with wildlife biologist Helen Pheasey. Pheasey was willing to plant some decoy eggs.

She had three goals. First, she needed to see if the technology in the eggs would work in the field. Second, she needed to see if the design of the eggs could trick poachers. And third, she needed to make sure that the fake eggs did not disturb the real eggs’ health.

So far, the news has been good. The healthy eggs are not bothered by the fake eggs. The poachers have been fooled. And the tracking works. Pheasey was able to track some decoys to their destinations. The system isn’t perfect. Limited cell networks could limit their ability to track the eggs. But, it’s a good start!

A Paso Pacifico turtle ranger collects turtle eggs for safekeeping nearby.

Kim Williams-Guillen explains to volunteers how the fake sea turtle eggs work.

What Comes Next

Using more fake eggs is the next step. With more data, it will be easier to make a map to show where the eggs are traded. The locations will help the team better understand the demand for turtle eggs.

Experts believe most of the stolen eggs make their way to El Salvador or Guatemala. There is also a concern that sea turtle eggs are being shipped overseas. If this is true, it could mean new markets for the eggs. And a trade that would be harder to combat. Still, the information gathered by the team could help police capture poachers.

The data could also be used for conservation projects, such as beach patrols to monitor the nests.

Williams-Guillén doesn’t think her fake eggs will solve the problem of turtle egg poaching. But she does think it could be a powerful tool. Combined with other conservation efforts, it could help ensure that sea turtles are safe for the future.

Protecting sea turtles also protects the environment. Healthy oceans need sea turtles.