Beachcombers to hunt out ‘mermaid’s purses’ to help protect sharksEggcases for sharks and rays found on seashores around the UK could hold the key to protecting their habitats
Members of the Co-operative in the UK are being recruited to take part in an egg hunt with a difference – looking for shark eggs on beaches.
The Shark Trust’s “great eggcase hunt” will see volunteers heading to the coast to search for the eggcases, known as “mermaid’s purses”, in which the young of many skates and rays and some sharks are laid.
They will use an identification guide [pdf] to discover which species hatched from the egg and record the location where it was found, as part of conservation efforts to ensure the UK’s shark species are adequately protected.
Governments this week agreed to boost protection for five species of shark under a global treaty governing trade in endangered species, so the trade in them is regulated to ensure it is sustainable.
Over half the 50 species of sharks, skates and rays found in British waters are classified as threatened or near-threatened with extinction. But little is known about their breeding areas and population sizes, making it hard to ensure sufficient protection for them.
John Atkinson, environment adviser at the Co-operative, said: “By taking part in the great eggcase hunt our members can help to identify areas of the coast where the eggcases of certain species have washed up.
"This may indicate nearby nursery ground, identification of which could inform future fisheries management plans and assist shark, skate and ray conservation."
The Co-operative is working with its members; pupils in 5,000 schools signed up to the group’s “green schools revolution” sustainability education programme, and the Shark Trust to get people involved in the egg hunt.
It is hosting seven events around the UK in the coming months, which will see an expert from the Shark Trust explaining to hunters what they need to know about eggcases, how to identify them and how to record their finds.
Many species of skates and ray and some sharks reproduce by laying leathery eggcases, which remain on the seabed or attached to seaweed for several months while the embryo develops into a miniature version of the adult.
Once the young have hatched the eggcases can be picked up in currents and washed up along the shore.
Cat Gordon, conservation officer at the Shark Trust, said: “The great eggcase hunt was established in 2003 and more than 33,000 individual eggcases have since been recorded.”
She said linking up with the Co-operativewould help increase knowledge of the distribution of British egg-laying species of sharks, rays and skates.
She added that anyone could take part in the project by visiting their local beach and reporting online any mermaid’s purses they see
"It’s not anything inherent in the human psyche to judge people based upon their skin color, there’s nothing in our DNA that suggest that one shade of color is superior or inferior to another. But it’s all a politically and sociologically determined phenomenon." - Dr. Ronald Boutelle, Ph.D., Psy.D, Psychologist
- Carved Ammonite Fossil Crystal Skull
- Ammonite Fossil Crystal Skull
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- Quartz Rock Crystal Skull and Snakes
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What cool skullptures.
My friend Daniel - photographer, biologist, artist, friendliest person ever - is working on a photo project that highlights staff and volunteers of The Field Museum along with their favorite collections items.
Posing with artifacts and specimens brings a certain ingenuity to the object; perhaps it would otherwise be something easily overlooked in a drawer, its history buried in comparative numbers. Singling out individual articles stresses their inherent uniqueness, and we’re drawn in with a curiosity trying to puzzle out why, out of 27 million items in this museum, these particular people chose the specimens in their hands.
There’s a visceral connection between Laura’s gaze and that agave lace: she’s looking at it so lovingly and holding it so carefully, as if she’s imagining herself sitting in awe at the foot of the person who painstakingly knit the fibers together and watching the entire process come together. Having seen her knit her own scarves on our way home one evening I can fathom the respect she has for not only the collections but also the people responsible for their creation and care.
Throughout Daniel’s portraits he’s been able to capture so well a humbling sense of gratification and pride, a mood that reflects our joy of being here because of the love we have for this world and its achievements. We’re all bursting with the same sense of wonder.