Celebrating 1000 shark eggcase records this World Oceans Day

Since the launch of the Sea Deep Project in 2018, 1000 eggcases have been recorded from 22 locations around the coast of Northern Ireland!

Over the past 2 years beach goers and eggcase searchers have been combing the shores across Northern Ireland. Eight species of skate and shark eggcases have been documented on our coast so far – with some finds rarer than others!

Eggcase records so far.

Eggcase records 1

The Small-spotted catshark eggcase was the most commonly recorded - 49% - almost half of the eggcases recorded were for this species. This was closely followed by the Spotted skate which made up another 45% of the records.

Undualte ray

Some of the rarer finds include the Small-eyed ray with only 2 records, 3 Undulate Ray eggcase records, and one record for the Bull Huss. Although these records are very low numbers, they are still valuable as it can indicate that they are present in our local waters.

Eggcase Records 2020

Every eggcase record counts!

Map of eggcase locations

Records of eggcases came in from across 22 different locations around Northern Ireland, with the most being reported from Portballintrae. It is important that we keep surveying areas that are hotspots for eggcases. It could indicate potential spawning areas and nursery grounds for young shark pups! But it is equally important that we survey as many different areas across the coast of Northern Ireland in the future in case there are other potential hotspots that we haven’t found so far!

Why record eggcases?

Populations of sharks, skates and rays have declined significantly, especially large bodied sharks like the Flapper Skate have become some of the most endangered species in our waters.

By recording eggcases found on the beach you can help to fill a knowledge gap of species biology, including the egg-laying phase. As eggcases are distinctive according to species, they can be used to help indicate presence and diversity of oviparous elasmobranchs. Recognising hotspots where large numbers of eggcases are found can enable us to propose better measures to help protect them during one of the most vulnerable phases of their life.

Thank you!

This project wouldn’t be possible without the help of the volunteers searching for and recording eggcases – so a huge thank you to everyone, whether you are a regular recorder or an occasional finder, who has participated in the Sea Deep Eggcase Search.

Everyone can be a part of this amazing work, it’s easy!

Eggcases wash up all year round so you can search any time of the year, but the best time is after stormy weather when lots of seaweed as been washed ashore. Check out our Eggcase Page to see how you can get involved and download your eggcase ID guide for free!