The Project

Girls with Eggcase © Richard Land.The Great Eggcase Hunt was established in 2003 and has been engaging the public in hunting for spent shark, skate and ray eggcases along the UK coastline ever since. Thanks to our supporters, we now have an extensive and ever expanding database of eggcase records, which continues to provide us with crucial information about the distribution of British sharks, skates and rays.

What is an eggcase?

An eggcase, which is also known as a mermaid’s purse, is a tough leathery case that protects the embryo of a shark, skate or ray. Each eggcase contains one embryo which will develop over several months into a miniature version of the adult.

There are over ten species of skate and ray, and only a few species of shark in UK waters that reproduce by laying eggcases on the seabed. Each species’ eggcase is different in shape and size, which allows us to identify them. Eggcases remain safely on the seabed until the juvenile has hatched, and then the empty eggcases often get washed up on beaches and can be found amongst the seaweed in the strandline.

Why report eggcases?

The distribution of different shark, skate and ray species is changing and a number of species are in decline. By taking part in the Great Eggcase Hunt you can help the Shark Trust to identify areas of the coast where eggcases regularly wash up.

Reported findings allow the Trust to identify potential shark, skate and ray nursery grounds, providing valuable data that aids conservation. This process can help with the management of UK sharks, skates and rays, as well as help designate Marine Conservation Zones which should provide protection for some species from particularly damaging human activities.

Your eggcase records are a crucial element of this conservation work and it’s so easy to take part - everything you need for a successful eggcase hunt can be found on the website.

Eggcases can be found on the beach all year round, so whatever the time of year keep your eyes open. The strandline or the back of the beach are the best places to find eggcases, washed up amongst the flotsam and jetsam. For more eggcase hunting tips, click here.
Found nothing?

Some beaches are regularly cleaned by local councils and any eggcases will have been removed along with the seaweed, whilst other beaches simply don’t have any eggcases to find. By reporting beaches without eggcases you are still contributing to the project, as this information adds an important dimension to our knowledge of eggcase distribution.