2023 marks the 20th anniversary of the Shark Trust’s Great Eggcase Hunt, the shark-conservation initiative that always gets a big push at Easter.
For those not diving over the Easter break or with a day to spare, the hunt provides an opportunity for an outing with family or friends interested in sharks, skates and rays.
“The project has evolved so much since it first began back in 2003,” says the trust’s senior conservation officer Cat Gordon. “We’re now well on our way to receiving half a million eggcase records!” The citizen-science project currently has 440,000 cases recorded from 49 species documented in 30 countries.
“One eggcase find may not seem that significant on its own, but when all of this information is brought together it can help us better understand species presence and diversity,” says Gordon. “It’s also a great way to get involved in shark conservation and, of course, it’s fun – and not to mention competitive!”
During last year’s Easter-holiday fortnight 7,560 eggcases were recorded, contributing to an annual total of 51,600. Another 22,400 have already been recorded this year.
Shark and skate eggs are protected by a tough leathery capsule as the embryo develops, with small slits allowing fresh oxygenated seawater in and waste out, while a yolk sac provides nutrition.
After several months, depending on species, the top of the eggcase opens and the fully formed shark or skate emerges, often leaving the discarded “mermaid’s purse” to wash up with seaweed and debris on strandlines, or end up trapped in grass on dunes behind a beach.
Participants can conduct their own eggcase hunt at a convenient site or check to see if a group event has been organised. The Shark Trust’s new citizen-science app can help with identifying the cases, which can be reported there or on its Recording Hub. Find details or download the app at the trust’s site.
Online with ND and LSD
From 12pm today (6 April) Northern Diver is hiding Easter eggs throughout its website. The fastest diver to find them will have the chance to win some “eggciting” rewards, says ND, ranging from gift vouchers and free shipping on purchases to a mystery first-place “Golden Egg” prize. It all depends on the colour of the egg you find.
Meanwhile London School of Diving is offering discounts on its experiences and courses with its own online LSD Easter Egg Hunt. Each egg is hidden in images around the LSD website, and clicking on one yields a discount code. A red egg cuts 50% off Discover Scuba Diving experiences, while green means £30 off a core course and blue eggs can save £20 on a speciality. The hunt wraps up at the end of 17 April.