PRESS RELEASE: Join the Great Easter Eggcase Hunt!

21 Mar 2013

Abbi holding an eggcase © Richard Land.

UK// This spring, the Shark Trust has teamed up with The Co-operative Membership to host a series of Great Eggcase Hunt events around the UK. The first free event takes place at 10.30am this Saturday 23rd March at Wembury Beach, Plymouth in collaboration with the National Marine Aquarium.

Since 2003, the Great Eggcase Hunt, a Shark Trust initiative, has been engaging the public in hunting for spent shark, skate and ray eggcases (or ‘mermaid’s purses’) which are washed up on beaches throughout the year. This project asks members of the public to scour beaches for these empty capsules and then use an identification guide to discover which species they belong to. The waters around the British Isles support a rich diversity of shark, skate and ray (elasmobranch) species, many of which have experienced significant population declines in recent decades.

The Great Eggcase Hunt was launched on Wembury Beach in 2003 and now, ten years on, sees the Trust returning to Wembury to engage a new generation of shark enthusiasts and beachcombers. With over 34,000 eggcases submitted to date, this public recording project is proving to be as popular as ever.

Conservation Officer Cat Gordon said “The Great Eggcase Hunt is a fantastic way for the public to get involved in shark conservation here in the UK.  Eggcases frequently wash up on many local beaches and can help shed light on the distribution of nursery grounds. Public enthusiasm for this project has enabled us to vastly improve our knowledge of vulnerable egglaying species.” Cat went on to say “Just don’t forget to record what you’ve found!

Eggcases will remain on the seabed or attached to seaweed for several months while the embryo inside develops into a miniature version of the adult. Once the embryo has hatched, the capsules are much lighter and can be picked up in currents and washed ashore among the strandline or blown to the back of the beach, where they can be found by passers-by.

The Great Eggcase Hunt was initially conceived as a way to raise public awareness of the presence and diversity of sharks, skates and rays in British waters, whilst also securing knowledge on the distribution of these species. Ten years later and the Great Eggcase Hunt now represents one of the UK’s most popular marine volunteer recording programmes.

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Notes to Editor:

The Shark Trust was established in 1997, and is the UK registered charity which works to advance the worldwide conservation of sharks  through science, education, influence and action. Our vision is a world where sharks thrive within a globally healthy marine ecosystem. The Trust is an effective and well respected advocate for sound shark management and protection and works through cross-sectoral collaboration and where possible works with governments, industry and other stakeholder groups to attain sustainable goals.

The Great Eggcase Hunt is a Shark Trust project which is currently co-funded by The Co-operative and Save Our Seas Foundation (SOSF). Visit www.eggcase.org for more details.

The Co-operative will be hosting seven events around the UK in the coming months, including at Wembury Beach (Devon), Llandudno Bay (Wales), Blackpool (Lancashire), Margate Main Sands (Kent), Whitby (Lincolnshire) and Birsay Beach (Orkney, Scotland), with a final location to be confirmed. 

The Great Eggcase Hunt is linking with The Co-operative’s Green Schools Revolution, which is an inspiring sustainability education programme with resources, activities and trips to encourage school children from the age of five to 16 to think differently and live more sustainably. Visit www.co-operative.coop/green-schools-revolution for more details.

This is a free event for all the family, although booking is essential at www.co-operativememberevents.coop or by calling 01884 266892. The coast at Wembury is owned by the National Trust and so car parking is free for National Trust members, but there is a £4.50 charge for the day for non-members.

For more information contact the Shark Trust:
+44 (0) 1752 672020
Director of Conservation, Ali Hood: 07855 386083
Conservation Officer, Cat Gordon: 07866 874974