Oct. 5 (UPI) — GPS-enabled decoy eggs could help authorities track sea turtle egg poachers and disrupt illegal wildlife trade networks.
In a proof-of-concept study, published Monday in the journal Current Biology, researchers placed 3D-printed, GPS-enabled decoy eggs in the nests of endangered sea turtles in Central America.
Using the ingeniously named InvestEGGator, scientists were able to track the contraband from the beach to restaurants and bars where the eggs are sold as a delicacy.
“Our research showed that placing a decoy into a turtle nest did not damage the incubating embryos and that the decoys work,” lead study author Helen Pheasey said in a news release.
“We showed that it was possible to track illegally removed eggs from beach to end consumer as shown by our longest track, which identified the entire trade chain covering 137 kilometers,” said Pheasey, conservation biologist and doctoral student at the University of Kent.