Meet Sally Huband- Eggcase Hunter…

Thanks to everyone in Shetland who reports their findings to the Shark Trust’s Great Eggcase Hunt, we now have a good idea of the species that occur locally. But the more records that are submitted the better this understanding will become.

It can be a bit confusing at first, working out which eggcase is which but the Shark Trust’s very easy to use app will guide you through and the identification key on their website is great too. It helps to soak the eggcases in water before trying to work out what they are.

Flapper Skate Eggcase
Copyright Sally Huband

To the best of my knowledge, seven kinds of eggcases have been found on Shetland’s beaches. The most common eggcase by far is that of the small spotted catfish, aka dogfish, with its small narrow capsule and long curly tendrils. I am always hoping to find a cuckoo ray eggcase but have only found three so far, they have a bulbous capsule and long sinuous horns. It is always a joy to find the huge eggcase of a flapper skate, the largest species of skate in the world.

The Shark Trust examined all the Shetland records recently and found that these islands are a particularly good place to find the rough textured starry skate eggcases. Even more excitingly, three ‘aberrant’ starry skate eggcases have been found on Shetland beaches. Each is much larger and more typical in size for north western Atlantic populations of this species. Could they have drifted here, or is there another intriguing explanation for the presence of these unusually large starry skate eggcases on our shores?

Aberrant Starry Skate Eggcase
Copyright Sally Huband

I can’t wait to find out what else might be revealed by the Shetland Community Wildlife Project and the Shark Trust. A new species record for Shetland? More unusual starry skate eggcases?

Happy eggcase hunting!


If you would like to get involved in the Shetland Eggcase Hunt click here.

Shetland Shark and Skate Eggcase Hunt

If you have access to the coast and head there as part of your daily exercise we would like you to keep your eye out for shark and skate eggcases or ‘mermaids purses’ as they are often known. Why not get the kids involved too!

The shark and skate species around Shetland produce these eggcases each with a single embryo inside. Once hatched the eggcases wash up on beaches and can be found in the strandline. Although Shetland has a few very active recorders (click here to read about Sally Hubands experiences hunting for eggcases in Shetland) we have very limited information about the species present around Shetland, so the distribution of eggcases are a great indicator of the species breeding around our coast.

Click here to learn how to prepare and identify your eggcase(s)

There are a surprising variety of eggcases and once you get looking it is interesting to see how many different species you can find on a beach.

Each species produces an eggcase with a slightly different design. Using the ID guide provided by the Shark Trust as part of their Great Eggcase Hunt you can identify and find out more about the species you have found. The Shark Trust has a great App: Great Eggcase Hunt, which you can download from your phone’s app store. If you don’t have a compatible smart phone or don’t want to download the app you can send your records to them via their online recording form here.

The Shark Trust and ourselves will be sharing data from this project so your records will not only be helping us further understand the species and distribution of sharks, skates and rays around Shetland but also contribute to national conservation efforts. Check out the video below to see Cat Gordon, Senior Conservation Officer and the Shark Trust talk more about eggcase hunting….

If you have any questions or want to get in touch with us about the project, email us at or contact us here or on our Facebook page.