The Daily Telegraph

Sea tur­tle poach­ers tracked down us­ing ‘spy eggs’

- Breaking Bad · University of Kent · Costa Rica · United States of America · U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration · Kent

De­coy sea tur­tle eggs loaded with track­ing de­vices in­spired by the tele­vi­sion drama Break­ing Bad have been used to catch poach­ers.

Re­searchers at the Univer­sity of Kent equipped the 3D-printed eggs with GPS track­ers and planted them in 101 nests on beaches in Costa Rica. One in four were taken, the re­searchers re­ported in the jour­nal Cur­rent Bi­ol­ogy. Sci­en­tists tracked the eggs as far as 85 miles as they were handed off to traf­fick­ers to be sold to restau­rants and bars.

Co-au­thor Kim Wil­liamsGuill­en, of US con­ser­va­tion non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion Paso Paci­fico, said she had been in­spired to in­vent the de­vice, dubbed the In­vestegga­tor, by the tac­tics of nar­cotics po­lice in pro­grammes such as Break­ing Bad and The Wire.

In one episode of Break­ing Bad, which chron­i­cles a chem­istry teacher’s trans­for­ma­tion into a drug smug­gler, the US

Drug En­force­ment Agency places a track­ing de­vice on a tank of chem­i­cals to catch traf­fick­ers.

She said: “Tur­tle eggs ba­si­cally look like ping pong balls, and we wanted to know where they were go­ing – put those two ideas to­gether and you have the In­vestegga­tor.”

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