Who: The Shark Trust
What: The Great Eggcase Hunt is a citizen science project with the aim of getting as many people as possible out hunting for shark eggcases and recording their finds. Empty eggcases can help indicate species presence and diversity.
When: All year round.
What is an eggcase? Some sharks, and all true skates, reproduce by laying eggs. These are surrounded by a tough leathery capsule that protects the embryo as it develops inside. After several months these are ready to hatch, and a fully-formed shark or skate will emerge.
Once empty, the eggcases (or mermaid’s purses) often wash up on the beach. One of the best places to find them is among the strandline, where the seaweed washes up. The eggcases of different species vary. So, by looking at the size, shape and features, we can tell which species laid it.
- You can usually find eggcases amongst the seaweed that makes up the strandline. They blend in really well which means they can be difficult to spot at first, so keep your eyes peeled.
- When eggcases dry out they’re very light and can get blown to the back of the beach. They also get trapped in grasses on sand dunes. So these are good locations to search.
- Eggcases will wash up throughout the year. They may have freshly hatched, or been on the seabed for some time before being dislodged.
- Best time to look is after stormy weather.
- Check to make sure it’s definitely an empty eggcase and nothing is inside. If a live embryo is inside, pop the eggcase back in the sea and try to weigh it down so it doesn’t wash ashore again.
Visit the Shark Trust for more information, including how to identify and record your eggcases. Happy hunting!
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