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Sonoma County woman pleads guilty to importing guitar picks made from endangered sea turtle shells

May 8, 2009 |  3:04 pm

Hawksbill sea turtle

Qing Song, a 54-year-old Sonoma County resident, pleaded guilty to a felony charge of importing guitar picks made from the shells of the endangered hawksbill sea turtle. Under the Endangered Species Act, it's illegal to sell such items in the U.S.

The woman received a sentence of 10 months of home confinement, the Associated Press reports. She'll also have to pay a $10,000 fine.

Tortoiseshell guitar picks, although illegal to purchase, have a somewhat mythical reputation among some guitar players, who say the tone produced by them is unrivaled by plastic picks. A luthier (the term for a person who makes or repairs stringed instruments) named John Greven even dedicated several years of work to creating a tortoiseshell fake that could replicate the tone of the coveted, illegal original.  (The resulting material, which he called Tor-Tis, is now used to make picks and pickguards.)

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Charles V. Angelo / Photo Researchers Inc.

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