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  • Mermaid’s purses open up a world of discovery on Ainsdale egg hunt

    Danielle Thompson

    A TREASURE trove of ‘mermaid’s purses’ was discovered on an egg hunt on Ainsdale beach.

    Staff at the Lancashire Wildlife Trust’s Living Seas project along with members of the public, found more than 500 of the purses which are actually the egg cases laid by sharks, skates and rays!

    Their finds included the egg cases of thornback rays, small spotted catsharks, spotted rays, the egg of a cuckoo ray and a nursehound egg case - a rare find along the Sefton coast.

    Sally Tapp, marine community engagement officer said: “It is always a joy to see the look on children’s faces when they discover that these mysterious mermaid’s purses are actually the eggs laid by sharks, skates and rays.

    “Getting children out on the shore to experience our amazing marine wildlife first-hand will ensure that these young, enthusiastic egg case hunters want to protect our valuable marine environment in the future.

    “Shark eggs, more commonly known as ‘mermaid’s purses’ end up scattered all along our coast, giving us useful clues into their secretive lives. Before they started, many of the families had no idea what these mysterious cases were, but with the help of some identification guides and an egg case expert to hand, everyone was soon getting stuck in and were easily able to identify the different species found.

    “There are more than 30 species of British shark and over 16 species of skate and ray which have regularly been recorded in British waters. Sadly, in recent years several of our species have dramatically declined, making egg hunt events like this so important.

    “Our egg case hunts aren’t just a lot of fun, the records we collect will make significant contributions to shark protection and conservation in our Irish Sea. Each egg will be identified, counted and photographed with records being sent to the Shark Trust.

    “The eggs give us valuable insights into potential nesting grounds for sharks around our coastline.

    “We have plenty more exciting events coming up. Look out for our National Marine Week this Summer where we will be asking people to explore their relationship with the sea. For more information about our work or how you can get involved head to our website at irishsea.org.”

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