Summer may be fast approaching but the Shark Trust has been reflecting on the Easter holidays, with the summary report for submissions recorded to the Great Eggcase Hunt! Over the two-week holiday (9th to 24th April 2022) a fantastic 7,560 eggcases were recorded.
People joined in all around the UK, from Orkney to the Isle of Wight. With a mixture of organised events and individuals heading to the beach for a day out, the response was amazing. The full report can be found at www.sharktrust.org/geh-how-can-you-help.
The top species found were Smallspotted Catsharks and Thornback Rays. Each eggcase submitted to the Shark Trust’s Great Eggcase Hunt database adds to the information gathered about sharks, skates and rays in our waters. With over 330,000 records since the project began in 2003, the Shark Trust can use this information to look for egg laying hotspots and to assess whether there are increases or declines in certain species in different regions around the UK.
A special mention goes to The Bay: A Blueprint for Recovery (a partnership project whose partners include Cumbria Wildlife Trust and The Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester & North Merseyside and) whose 280 event attendees found an incredible 3,313 eggcases (3,254 of which were Smallspotted Catshark!) in and around the Morecambe Bay area. North Wales Wildlife Trust also organised a number of events through Project SIARC, meaning that the north Wales coastline was also well represented.
Senior Conservation Officer Cat Gordon said: “We’re seriously impressed with the number of eggcases that were reported to the Great Eggcase Hunt over the two-week Easter holidays! There were so many dedicated events that took place, and it’s great to see so much of the coastline represented on the results map.”
But the Great Eggcase Hunt is not just for Easter! The Shark Trust wants to encourage citizen scientists of all ages to make every trip to the beach a Great Eggcase Hunt. It’s easy to get involved, simply 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 – the Shark Trust has 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.
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: www.sharktrust.org/great-eggcase-hunt
UK Shark Fin ban moves closer to becoming law
Bite-Back Shark & Marine Conservation’s relentless campaigns to make Britain shark fin-free reached a new milestone last week when a private member’s bill to ban the import and export of shark fins was voted through parliament with unanimous cross-party support.
The bill is now scheduled for three readings in the House of Lords and, if successful, it will then go to King Charles for Royal Ascent and become law.
Campaign director for Bite-Back, Graham Buckingham, said:
“Our goal of ending Britain’s ties with the global shark fin trade is within our reach. This country has a dark history of exporting around 20 tonnes of shark fins every year and it remains legal to bring up to 20kg of dried shark fins through Customs without needing to declare it. This bill could represent a significant blow to the multi-million-pound shark fin industry. It’s now down to the House of Lords to smooth its path to the palace.”
Since July 2022 the charity has been consulting the Labour MP Christina Rees who put forward the private member’s bill after the government failed to bring its Animal Welfare Bill, that promised to ban the import and export of shark fins, into law last year.
To help improve support for the bill, Bite-Back also created a briefing document on the issues for all MPs to reference. During the bill’s final reading in the House of Commons MPs from different parties wholeheartedly endorsed the ban on the import and export of shark fins.
In her closing statement Christina Rees MP said that she hoped this bill would ‘drive up the standards of global shark conservation’.
Bite-Back will now turn its attention to educating and inspiring members of the House of Lords to vote in favour of a ban.
Follow the bill’s progress at www.bite-back.com and learn how you can get involved in supporting shark conservation initiatives in the UK.
Header image: Finned sharks underwater- Copyright – Scubazoo.
Shark Trust calls for global shark citizen scientists
The Shark Trust has launched a new smartphone app that makes it simple for everyone to get involved in shark science and conservation. The new app brings together five citizen science projects into one place, allowing users to report: shark sightings, eggcase finds, Basking Shark observations, angling catches, and incidents of shark entanglement with marine litter.
Through these projects, anyone with an interest in sharks, skates and rays can contribute to important research and have a lot of fun along the way. The findings can be submitted from anywhere in the world and will help scientists by providing a range of vital data from some of the 1200+ species of sharks, skates and rays that swim in our ocean.
As users submit their findings across the five citizen science projects, they will build a logbook of their research contributions. These are saved in their profile and shared with the wider community, so users can see what other people have recently been discovering.
Alongside this important citizen science aspect, there are also 50 collectible shark cards to unlock: 30 bronze cards, 15 silver cards, and five gold cards. Submitting to any of the projects unlocks a card at random, so you never know what you’re going to find!
The Shark Trust’s flagship citizen science project, the Great Eggcase Hunt, which encourages the public to find the empty eggcases (or mermaid’s purses) of sharks and skate on the beach or submit those seen developing in situ, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.
Senior Conservation Officer Cat Gordon says “We’re really excited to be celebrating the Great Eggcase Hunt’s 20th anniversary this year! As part of the celebrations, we’re releasing this brand-new citizen science app, hosting a public evening event, and planning a special edition of the Trust’s membership magazine Shark Focus. The project has grown substantially since 2003, when we received just 128 records in the first year, to having a staggering 50,212 individual eggcases recorded in 2022 alone! In total, we’ve received over 370,000 eggcases since the project began, and we hope the app inspires even more people to get out and about in search of mermaid’s purses!”
The Great Eggcase Hunt element of the app features eggcases from species which can be found in the Northeast Atlantic, as well as those in Australia (working in partnership with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation). In time we will add identification materials from more regions, but until then, records can still be submitted from outside these areas. This app replaces the previous Great Eggcase Hunt app which was launched in 2014 – so if you previously used that then please delete it and download the new version!
If you are interested in sharks, skates and rays and want to help contribute towards research and conservation, the Shark Trust citizen science app is for you. Everyone from the occasional beachgoer to seasoned divers and anglers can get involved.
Paul Cox, Shark Trust CEO, says “For a while we’ve wanted to make it easier and more fun for people to identify and record their sightings. Thanks to a generous donation from Animal Friends Pet Insurance, we’ve been able to create this great tool with local gamification specialists, Kazow Games. We’re really excited to get this app out into the world and start to see more recorders getting involved with our projects.”
Search for ‘Shark Trust’ in the relevant app store, download the app today, and start recording your findings. We are already working on some exciting updates and are still welcoming feedback, so if you have opportunity to try it out, please let us know what you think!
Let’s build a global community of citizen scientists who can help protect these incredible animals together!
Find out more on the Shark Trust website.
Header image: James Harris
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