Woman hid fake eggs under sand—but turtle poachers had no idea of what it hid inside

December 30, 2017 5:27 pm Last Updated: January 5, 2018 8:53 am

The survival rate for sea turtles is notoriously low.

Just 0.1 percent.

Only 1 in 1,000 sea turtles are estimated to make it to maturity, where they are big enough that they can reproduce, according to Sea Turtle Conservancy.

Many of these little critters get eaten before or just moments after they are born. Many succumb to the hazards of plastic pollution. But many more are scooped up by poachers even before they hatch.

(YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

According to conservation ecologist Kim Williams-Guillen, in Central America nests are in danger from poachers who want to take and sell these eggs for consumption.

The poaching network has grown to be its own industry, and ecologists like Williams-Guillen have come up with a creative way to take them down.

They’ve created fake turtle eggs complete with GPS trackers for the purpose of finding out where these networks link up.

The fake eggs get hidden in beachside nests along with the real eggs, in the hope they’ll be poached together and transported along—and answer a key question:

“Where is it that they go after they’re taken from the beach?” Williams-Guillen said in a video.

They started out 3-D printing the eggs, but they didn’t look or feel quite right. In order for the eggs to be poached, they need to be convincing.

So the team found Lauren Wilde, a makeup artist in Hollywood who does everything from beauty makeup to prosthetics and sets.

Wilde was amazed that she could use her prosthetic-makeup skills to do something like this.

“To actually help a whole species of turtles?” she said. “That’s like a dream job.”

The data could potentially take down these poaching rings.

More than that, Williams-Guillen has realized that this project has something to it that “captures people’s imaginations.”

They start to realize that wildlife poaching isn’t that distant or abstract, and that maybe anyone anywhere can do something about it.