• Lucy Lintott

Easter (shark) egg hunt!


Who doesn’t love an easter egg hunt? The thrill of finding a brightly coloured orb secreted away in a hidden trove – what could be more fun? Well, spotting a shark egg of course! More correctly, an egg case – known as a mermaid’s purse.

This Easter weekend, from Friday 2nd April to Monday 5th April, we want to invite everyone to get out to their local beaches and take part in a shark egg hunt. When you find one, take a photo of it and send it, along with your location and the date, to our Whatsapp number (076 897 5474) so we can log your finding. The person or family that finds the most eggcases will win a box of easter eggs! We’ll accept your submissions for the competition up until Friday 9th April.


Not only is this a fun activity, but you’re also taking part as citizen scientists in our research into the populations of sharks, skates and rays around South Africa.

So, where’s the best place to go? We know from your submissions up to now that if you’re travelling to the Garden Route, you’re best off looking at Nature’s Valley. If you’re in Cape Town, you might get lucky at Fish Hoek, Muizenberg and Melkbosstrand. If you’re around Port Elizabeth, why not try the Sacramento Trail and Kini Bay.


To give you an idea of what to look out for, these are the five species whose egg cases are most commonly found:


Puffadder shyshark – small size (around 30 x 50mm), dark brown with faint sideways stripes, tendrils present (photo by Mark Dixon)


Dark shyshark – small size (25 x 55mm), amber to dark brown (stripes are absent), long tendrils


Leopard catshark – medium size (30 x 70mm), light brown to olive colour, thin walls, tendrils present


Pyjama shark – large size (50 x 100mm), dark brown, tough, tendrils present


Twineyed skate – around or smaller than 50mm in length, tough but smooth, even tapering horns with hooked tips


If you’re not sure who your eggcase belongs to, it’s not a problem! As long as you send a photo of the eggcase to us, we can identify it and let you know what it is.


If you want to do a little homework before the hunt so you can identify it yourself, have a look at our eggcase identification guide (https://www.elmoafrica.org/id-guide-to-eggcases)

Or check out our video from SciFest: https://scifest.nationalartsfestival.co.za/show/you-can-become-a-scientist-too-how-to-identify-mermaids-purses-a-k-a-shark-eggcases-for-shark-conservation/


Happy hunting!

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© 2020 by ELMO (South African Elasmobranch Monitoring). 

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