For divers looking for some submerged action over the upcoming festive break, an underwater Easter egg hunt is being held off Weymouth in Dorset in aid of the lifeboats on Sunday, 17 April.
Organised by local dive-centre Jurassic Aqua Sports, the first of two dive-trips departs at 8.45am. Skipper David Collins promises a “day of Easter magic with our pasties and plenty of chocolate”.
Divers are encouraged to be suitably costumed for the occasion, and pay £70 to take part in the search, at a maximum depth of 20m, for coloured paddles exchangeable for chocolate eggs.
All proceeds go to support the RNLI. Jurassic, which has two dive-boats – Waverider takes 12 divers and Jurassic Diver eight – ran a Christmas Santa dive in December and raised £800 for Weymouth Lifeboat Station. There are still spaces available for the Easter dives as of today (11 April) but check by emailing [email protected] or call 07970 292132.
Meanwhile an Easter weekend activity that also embraces non-divers will be taking place all over the UK, with the Shark Trust hoping that divers and their families will become citizen-scientists and participate in its shark, ray and skate conservation project, the Great Eggcase Hunt.
“The annual event was started by the trust in 2003, when a chance find on a Devon beach sparked the idea,” says Cat Gordon, senior conservation officer of the charity, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.
“Since then, over 300,000 eggcase records have been sent in from all around the UK and even further afield,” she says. “New finds from around the world are regularly being added to an ever-growing database.
“The project now has an impressive 43 species recorded from 29 countries. All this information helps us better understand species presence and diversity – it’s also a great way to get involved in shark conservation and, of course, it’s fun!”
Some sharks and all true skates lay eggs, with the leathery capsule around them protecting the developing embryo. The slits allow fresh oxygenated seawater in and waste out, while a yolk sac provides nutrition.
When the top of the eggcase opens, a fully formed shark or skate emerges, already able to fend for itself. The empty cases, also known as mermaid’s purses, often wash up on beaches.
Eggcase hunters are invited but don’t need to join an organised event, says the Shark Trust. They can head to the nearest beach and search the strandline where seaweed and debris washes up, or sand dunes where the cases get blown and trapped in grass.
The species can be identified by the case’s size, shape and features, with the Shark Trust’s downloadable poster and ID guide available to help. Details and photos are then submitted via its Recording Hub.
The trust also asks scuba divers and snorkellers to record their underwater eggcase findings, including depth and substrate type, to help pinpoint where sharks and skates lay their eggs.
The Shark Trust and the Great Out-tours have also created activity bundles for children as well as an educational indoor version of the Great Eggcase Hunt for families unable to reach a beach. Learn more here.
Easter egg-hunting will be happening online as well, starting from Good Friday (15 April) when Northern Diver will have 10 eggs concealed throughout its website. “The fastest people to find them will be in for a chance to win some cracking prizes,” promises the free-punning kit manufacturer, “from egg-ceptional discount codes to our mystery first-place ‘Golden Egg’ prize!”
The hunt ends on Tuesday 19 April at mid-day, and winners will be announced that week – full details here.