Mermaid's Purse

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eggcase / Nikki Hills

Tell us if you have seen a mermaid's purse

Find one of these on the beach, and they’re pretty easy to find - and chances are you’ve found a SHARK!

Yep, these tough, leathery pouches washed up on the beach are actually the EGG CASES of sharks and rays. The long,slender ones with curly tendrils are the egg cases of the LESSER SPOTTED DOGFISH aka the SPOTTED CATSHARK - OK, it’s not a great white but it’s still pretty cool. They’re nearly always empty, as they’ve become detached from the seabed after the young shark has hatched, but just occasionally, rarely even, you might find one with the baby shark still inside - so check them out!.

The fatter, more square sort with ‘horns’ in the corners are the egg cases of rays, and in Worthing that’s usually the UNDULATE RAY or sometimes the SPOTTED RAY

All these fish lay their eggs by twisting round some seaweed so the eggs stick to it, and the eggs usually stay there for up to a YEAR while the
young fish develops inside. When there are storms the seaweed or the egg cases break off and end up washed up on the beach.

DID YOU KNOW: the common SKATE has huge egg cases the size of an iPad mini, but because of over-fishing they are now so RARE they’re a PROTECTED SPECIES?

Visit The Shark Trust's website to help identify you egg cases