Calling all divers and citizen scientists: hunt for shark eggcases launches in Australia
The Great Eggcase Hunt has landed on Australian shores, calling on citizen scientists to help researchers learn more about sharks, skates and chimaeras by finding and recording eggcases found both underwater and washed up along our coasts.
CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, is calling on citizen scientists to find and record eggcases seen on dives as well as those found washed up on Australian coasts, so researchers can better-understand egg-laying sharks, skates and chimaeras.
The Great Eggcase Hunt, an initiative of UK-based charity The Shark Trust, has launched in Australia in partnership with CSIRO to help provide new data for scientists studying the taxonomy and distribution of these sharks, skates and chimaeras.Helen O’Neill, CSIRO Australian National Fish Collection biologist, said recording sightings of eggcases on beaches and coastlines would help scientists discover what the eggcases of different species look like, with some still unknown.
“Eggcases are important for understanding basic biology, as well as revealing valuable information such as where different species live and where their nurseries are located,” Ms O’Neill said.
Cat Gordon, Senior Conservation Officer at The Shark Trust said the Great Eggcase Hunt began in the UK 20 years ago and has since recorded more than 380,000 individual eggcases from around the world.
“We’re really excited to be partnering with CSIRO to officially launch this citizen science project in Australia and to be able to expand the Shark Trust’s eggcase identification resources. There’s such a diversity of species to be found around the Australian coastline, and with a tailored identification guide created for each state, they really showcase the different catsharks, skate, horn sharks, carpetsharks and chimaera eggcases that can be found washed ashore or seen while diving,” Ms Gordon said.
Also known as mermaids’ purses, eggcases come in many different shapes and colours, ranging from cream and butterscotch to deep amber and black. The range in size from approximately 4 to 25 centimetres.
Some eggcases have a smooth and simple appearance, while others have ridges, keels or curling tendrils that anchor them to kelp or coral. Port Jackson sharks have corkscrew-shaped egg cases that they wedge into rocks.
“At the Australian National Fish Collection, we are matching eggcases to the species that laid them,” Ms O’Neill said.
“We borrow eggcases from other collections, museums and aquariums around the world and use our own specimens collected from fish markets, from surveys at sea or extracted from the ovaries of preserved specimens in our collection,” she said.
Eggcases found on beaches rarely contain live embryos, whose incubation times range from a few months up to three years, depending on the species. However, if they’re seen in situ while diving, they may still contain a live embryo and so these eggcases should not be picked up or disturbed – if you can, take a photo and submit that along with your sighting when you’re back on dry land.
The Shark Trust is a UK-based charity dedicated to safeguarding the future of sharks, skates, rays, and chimaera through positive change. The Trust achieves this through science, education, influence, and action.
To get involved in the Great Eggcase Hunt, you can record sightings via the Shark Trust citizen science mobile phone app or through the project website www.eggcase.org.
Jeff chats to… Christopher Bartlett, MD of Indigo Safaris, about scuba diving in Papua New Guinea (2 of 5)
In the second in this exclusive series of five videos, Jeff Goodman, Scubaverse Editor-at-Large, chats to Christopher Bartlett, Managing Director of Indigo Safaris, about their diving and wildlife adventures, and four of their top destinations. In this episode Christopher talks about Papua New Guinea.
For more information, please visit www.indigosafaris.com
Rather listen to a podcast? Click on this link to listen HERE
Discover a magical world beneath the surface in Aotearoa, New Zealand
Aotearoa, New Zealand and PADI® celebrate International Mermaid Day
Aotearoa, New Zealand has revealed a magical world beneath the ocean’s surface for International Mermaid Day, in partnership with PADI®.
Mesmerising underwater footage released today showcases official PADI Mermaid team members from around the world exploring renowned international dive site, the Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve, in the country’s Northland region.
Combining elements of freediving with wearing a ‘monofin’ or mermaid tail, the art of ‘mermaiding’ is making waves worldwide as an accessible and captivating way to connect with and explore beneath the surface.
PADI’s Mermaid Program launched globally in 2021 and has since built a strong wave of momentum capturing the imagination and curiosity of all ages and genders. Anyone over the age of six can start their mermaid journey, and learn to breath-hold, swim with a tail, read ocean conditions, and respect and protect marine life.
Certified PADI Mermaids have a unique passion for ocean advocacy, along with a deep care and connection to the ocean and all life that calls it home.
With expansive coastlines, marine reserves*, abundant wildlife, and hundreds of offshore islands, Aotearoa New Zealand boasts a plentiful paradise for inquisitive travellers looking to immerse themselves in the natural environment.
“The waters of Aotearoa are a special place for me personally, having had the privilege to explore above and beneath the surface as both an adventure seeker and a diver,” says Drew Richardson, PADI President and CEO.
“I’ll never forget the first time I experienced the Poor Knights Islands – the crown jewel of the Tutukākā coastline. From the dramatic topography to the thick kelp forests teeming with the unique combination of cold and subtropical marine species brought in by the Eastern Australian Current, not many dive sites have ever rivaled this one for me.
Imagine what our shared blue planet would be like if we had 10,000 more success stories** like the Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve?”
The unique geography of the South Pacific destination creates a diverse underwater playground to explore from twinkling, sub-tropical waters and islands of the far north, to wild and wonder in the fiords of the deep south.
“It’s no secret our natural environment is part of what makes us an extraordinary destination to explore. But there is more here than meets the eye; our unique geography and climate create wondrous worlds above and below the surface for those travellers curious to discover all that Aotearoa, New Zealand has to offer,” says René de Monchy, Tourism New Zealand Chief Executive.
“We are proud to team up with Tourism New Zealand this International Mermaid Day. TNZ is a like-minded partner devoted to the Tiaki Promise – the commitment to care for the people, place and culture of Aotearoa,” says Drew Richardson, PADI President and CEO.
For more information about New Zealand’s unique marine tourism opportunities and underwater-inspired experiences and travel inspiration, visit www.newzealand.com.
For more information about PADI and the PADI Mermaid Program, visit www.padi.com/mermaid-centers
*New Zealand has 44 marine reserves, which are protected areas of ocean within which it is prohibited to fish, remove, or disturb any marine life in order to preserve our species and habitat.
**PADI is on a mission to protect 30% of the ocean by 2030 through its Adopt the Blue program, which is the world’s largest network of underwater sites that the organisation, alongside Ocean Torchbearers, is rallying to turn into marine protected areas.