Scientists and armed guards were about to trick thieves into revealing their criminal networks. Then Hurricane Otto showed up
At about the same moment I board a flight from Los Angeles to Managua, the capital city of Nicaragua, a tropical cyclone is quietly forming over the southwestern Caribbean sea. My plan—which I detailed in the Winter issue of GOOD—is to join conservationists on a covert mission to trick sea turtle egg poachers into swiping hyper-realistic decoy eggs along with those containing GPS and Bluetooth tracking devices. If all goes smoothly, we’ll gain unprecedented insight into a vast, underground criminal network linked with a shadowy black market stretching from Central America to Asia.
But by the time I’m scheduled to land—around lunchtime on a tropical winter afternoon—the cyclone will have intensified into a full-blown hurricane. Though science journalism isn’t without some degree of risk, my biodiversity beat means I’m usually able to mitigate risks with a sufficient application of mosquito-killing DEET. I’m not a storm-chaser by either trade or personality; I’m an observer of creatures wilder than myself, under the supervision of expert scientists.