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Marine Life & Conservation

Join the Shark Trust on an Easter Egg Hunt with a difference!

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Stuck for ideas on what to do over the Easter Holidays? Want to get outside and do something fun to work off all that pent up energy from eating too much chocolate? The Shark Trust has an Easter Egg Hunt with a difference for you to try. Take part in the Great Eggcase Hunt and get involved with a big citizen science project that helps shark, ray and skate conservation. And it’s an enjoyable activity for all the family.

Senior Conservation Officer Cat Gordon says “The Shark Trust launched the Great Eggcase Hunt back in 2003, when a chance find on a Devon beach sparked the idea. Since then, over 300,000 eggcase records have been sent in from all around the UK and even further afield. 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!”

So, what is an eggcase? Some sharks, and all true skates, reproduce by laying eggs. These are surrounded by a tough leathery capsule that protects the embryo as it develops inside. Small slits in the eggcase allow fresh oxygenated seawater in, and let waste out, while a yolk sac provides plenty of nutrition. After several months (although this will vary depending on species) they are ready to hatch. The top of the eggcase will open and a fully formed shark or skate will emerge and be completely independent, having to fend for itself. Once empty, the eggcases (or mermaid’s purses) often wash up on the beach.

You don’t need to be part of an organised event to join in with an eggcase hunt (although check to see if there is one running near you!). All you need to do, is head to your nearest beach and take a look around to see what you can find. The best places to search are in the strandline where seaweed and debris washes up, and in sand dunes at the back of the beach as they often get trapped in the grass.

The eggcases of different species vary. So, once you’ve found an eggcase, look at the size, shape, and features to identify which species it belongs to – we’ve developed identification resources to help you figure it out! Once you’ve got the answer, head over to the Shark Trust’s Recording Hub where you can submit your finds.

Paul Cox, Shark Trust MD, said “In our 25th Anniversary year, we can look back at the many things that we’ve achieved with our partners and supporters over the years. The Great Eggcase Hunt is one of our defining projects. Thousands of people have joined in the hunt over the years and the project goes from strength to strength – it’s fun, easy and a great way to learn about local sharks.”

The Shark Trust also want snorkellers and divers to record their underwater eggcase findings. Underwater records help pinpoint exactly where sharks and skates are laying their eggs and can help link to beach records. Learning the depth and substrate that they lay on also helps better understand the species.

The Great Eggcase Hunt makes for a fantastic family day out at the beach, so get involved with shark conservation and have fun too!

Find out more: https://www.sharktrust.org/great-eggcase-hunt


Where to find out more:

  • The Shark Trust has created a brand-new poster and ID guide to help you identify which species you have found. These can be found here: https://www.sharktrust.org/geh-how-can-you-help
  • Once you have completed your Great Eggcase hunt take pictures and head to the Shark Trust website (sharktrust.org/recordyoureggcase) to record your finds.
  • Want more shark and ray activities to keep the kids busy over the holidays? The Shark Trust have teamed up with the Great Out-tours to create activity bundles filled with fun and educational challenges, including crafts, puzzles, quizzes and wordsearches.  https://thegreatout-tours.com/shark-trust/
  • Weather bad? Live too far from a beach? Have no fear, the Shark Trust have developed a fun and educational indoor version of the Great Eggcase Hunt for you to try at home! You can find it here: https://www.sharktrust.org/geh-how-can-you-help

Eggcase Hunting Tips

BE SAFE ON THE BEACH:

  • Check tide times
  • Tell someone where you’re going
  • If possible, use a stick to rummage in seaweed to avoid any nasty surprises
  • Take care near the base of cliffs

REMEMBER:

  • Respect wildlife and habitats by following the Seashore Code and don’t take live animals home with you.
  • As you’re looking in the strandline anyway, why not do a spot of beach cleaning? It goes hand in hand with eggcase hunting!

MORE TIPS:

  • You can usually find eggcases amongst the seaweed that makes up the strandline. They blend in really well which means they can be difficult to spot at first, so keep your eyes peeled.
  • When eggcases dry out they’re very light and can get blown to the back of the beach. They also get trapped in grasses on sand dunes. So these are good locations to search.
  • Eggcases will wash up throughout the year. They may have freshly hatched, or been on the seabed for some time before being dislodged.
  • After stormy weather has passed is prime eggcase hunting time. Lots of seaweed and debris will have been washed up on the beach – this is great to search in.
  • Check to make sure it’s definitely an empty eggcase and nothing is inside.
  • If a live embryo is inside, pop the eggcase back in the sea and try to weigh it down so it doesn’t wash ashore again.
  • Empty eggcases have no secondary purpose as some shells do for hermit crabs. They also don’t break down to form sand.

Find out more: https://www.sharktrust.org/great-eggcase-hunt

Nick and Caroline (Frogfish Photography) are a married couple of conservation driven underwater photo-journalists and authors. Both have honours degrees from Manchester University, in Environmental Biology and Biology respectively, with Nick being a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, a former high school science teacher with a DipEd in Teaching Studies. Caroline has an MSc in Animal Behaviour specializing in Caribbean Ecology. They are multiple award-winning photographers and along with 4 published books, feature regularly in the diving, wildlife and international press They are the Underwater Photography and Deputy Editors at Scubaverse and Dive Travel Adventures. Winners of the Caribbean Tourism Organization Photo-journalist of the Year for a feature on Shark Diving in The Bahamas, and they have been placed in every year they have entered. Nick and Caroline regularly use their free time to visit schools, both in the UK and on their travels, to discuss the important issues of marine conservation, sharks and plastic pollution. They are ambassadors for Sharks4Kids and founders of SeaStraw. They are Dive Ambassadors for The Islands of The Bahamas and are supported by Mares, Paralenz, Nauticam and Olympus. To find out more visit www.frogfishphotography.com

Marine Life & Conservation

Help protect our marine environment with BSAC’s new Shore Surveyor course

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BSAC has partnered with Scottish environmental charity, Seawilding, to offer everyone the chance to help champion the marine environment with the new Shore Surveyor course.

Delivered by eLearning, Shore Surveyor has been designed to engage people, particularly children and young people, in the issues that face our precious marine life. With a focus on the UK’s native oyster and seagrass beds, this eLearning course equips participants with the skills needed to help identify seashore-based habitats and record what they find.

Shore Surveyor is open to everyone, whether they are BSAC members or not.

Working with Seawilding, the UK’s first community-led native oyster and seagrass restoration project, Shore Surveyor participants will also learn about the native oyster and seagrass beds and the issues they currently face.

Both the UK’s native oyster and seagrass habitats have experienced a serious decline over the past 200 years, resulting in an estimated 95% reduction in populations. The new Shore Surveyor course ties directly into BSAC’s major new marine project, Operation Oyster, which aims to protect and restore native oyster habitats around the UK.

By the end of the course, participants can become ‘citizen scientists’ by helping to locate and record seashore areas where current or potential native oysters or seagrass populations are present. This data can then be fed into the National Marine Records Database to help scientists studying our coast as well as support future underwater surveys.

Seawilding CEO, Danny Renton, said he was delighted to partner with BSAC on the Shore Surveyor course.

“Our seas are in peril, and it’s so important to engage families and especially young people, in the wonders of the sea and to engage them in marine conservation. The Shore Surveyor course is the first step to get involved in initiatives like seagrass and native oyster restoration and to nurture a new generation of ocean activists, environmentalists and marine biologists.”

BSAC’s Chief Executive, Mary Tetley, said the new Shore Surveyor course was also part of BSAC’s drive to get more young people actively involved in marine life protection. 

“This new course not only explores the threats faced by our precious oceans but also empowers people to get directly involved.

“From a family visit to the beach to a club diving or snorkelling trip, the skills learned on Shore Surveyor can be invaluable to anyone, young or not so young, who wants to make a difference to our under-pressure marine life.”

One of the first participants of the Shore Surveyor course, 16-year-old Lili, from North Wales, has recently put her new found surveying skills into action while on her summer holidays.

“I loved it because it was simple and easy to use and remember,” said Lili. “All ages will enjoy it – young children, teenagers, parents, even grandparents.

“There is a bit of eLearning to do before you start but that is easy to do, and the course really helps you when you go out and see everything for real on the beach!”

Shore Surveyor is open to children aged eight up to adults and costs £20. For more information and to book onto the eLearning course, go to bsac.com/shoresurveyor.

For more information on Operation Oyster and other ways you can get involved, go to bsac.com/operationoyster

Images: Seawilding

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Marine Life & Conservation

PADI and Seiko Prospex unite to help create the world’s largest underwater cleanup for ocean change

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PADI® and Seiko Prospex are teaming up to help marine conservation charity Oceanum Liberandum host the world’s largest underwater cleanup event in Sesimbra, Portugal on 24 September 2022.

Taking place during AWARE Week, the event aims to bring together 700 divers to clean up the coastline for a 12-hour period and is anticipated to host the most divers ever on record taking part in one consecutive underwater cleanup effort.  Participating divers and dive centres from around the region will come together to collect marine debris–which will ultimately be logged into PADI’s Dive Against Debris database.

“Our database is the world’s largest in terms of capturing seafloor debris data, which has already helped drive two pioneering scientific papers being used to create new waste management policies,” says Emma Daffurn, CSR Specialist for PADI Worldwide. “More than 250 million tons of plastic are estimated to make its way into our ocean by 2025 and the environmental damage caused by plastic debris alone is estimated at $13 billion US a year. This world record attempt further highlights the important role divers play in reporting, removing and advocating to stop marine debris at its source.”

PADI is proud to have Seiko Prospex on board as the sponsor of the marine debris program and a partner for this world record attempt. Their support is critical to advancing the PADI Blueprint for Ocean Action, and protecting the global ocean now and for generations to come.

“Helping to raise awareness and take an active role in environmental conservation has become one of Seiko Prospex’s missions,” says Miguel Rodrigues, Sales & Marketing Director for Seiko Prospex. “We seek, whenever possible, to support events that have ocean conservation at their core, and we are very honored to sponsor the world’s largest underwater cleanup. We are proud to contribute to a more sustainable future where humans are an integral part of nature.”

Those who want to volunteer to take part in the world record attempt can learn more and sign up at oceanumliberandum.pt/en/Largest-Underwater-cleanup-in-the-World/. The 15 euro registration fee will go towards supporting dive centres with boats, facilities and air bottle logistics.

“We’re thrilled to have the chance to work with Seiko in supporting the largest underwater cleanup event so that we can mobilise Ocean TorchbearersTM to take action to protect what they love, capture more essential data for policy changes, and continue the wave of momentum in creating positive ocean change,” says Daffurn.

For more from PADI, visit www.padi.com

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