The Great Eggcase Hunt

  • Rays & Skates
Years funded
  • 2010, 2012, 2013
  • Archived
Project type
  • Conservation

Have you ever found a strange-looking, leathery pocket washed up on the beach? It was probably the empty eggcase of a shark or skate. Recording where you have seen these eggcases helps Ali and her team learn about the animals that laid them.

The Great Eggcase Hunt

Ali Hood

Project leader
About the project leader

With a BSc (Hons) in marine environmental science and an MSc in applied marine science, I have worked as an advocate for marine conservation for more than 20 years. I have been intrigued by the sea from a young age; as a child in Cyprus I could often be found sitting on the seabed (with a lap full of rocks to weigh me down), feeding an insatiable curiosity for life underwater. I later wound up in North Queensland, Australia, where as a teenager I worked in environmental tourism by crewing on a traditional boat that took the public and researchers...

The Great Eggcase Hunt

Cat Gordon

Project leader
About the project leader

My keen interest in nature and the environment developed when I was young, although living in central England, well away from the coast, meant that my curiosity about the underwater world took longer to emerge. It was learning to scuba-dive at the age of 14 that led me to fall in love with the ocean and appreciate its inhabitants. Faced with choosing a career, I jumped at the opportunity to study for a BSc in marine biology and coastal ecology and then an MSc in conservation biology with a view to working in the marine conservation sector. I had a...

Project details

The Great Eggcase Hunt

Key objective

Since 2003 the Great Eggcase Hunt, a Shark Trust initiative, has been engaging the public in hunting for spent shark, skate and ray eggcases that wash up along the UK coastline throughout the year. The project was borne from concern regarding the population status of egg-laying skates and rays.

Why is this important

The Great Eggcase Hunt not only raises awareness of the diversity of elasmobranchs in British waters, but also engages the public in the intrigues of the UK foreshore and the myriad of items they can discover.


In recent decades, the abundance of several species of skates and rays has dramatically declined around the British coast. The empty eggcases that wash up onto our beaches year-round are an easily accessible source of information on the whereabouts of skate and ray nursery grounds. The identification of these critical areas will enable the Shark Trust to propose conservation measures to reverse the decline of these charismatic animals.

Aims & objectives

Funding received from the Save Our Seas Foundation for the next phase of the Great Eggcase Hunt will build on a strong foundation of information and enthusiasm using the previous tenets: expand, improve and deliver.

  • Expand: We will engage a wider public audience using improved support materials (including mobile phone applications, exhibition materials and event packs) delivered directly to the public via marine centres, aquariums, the internet and the media. By securing greater engagement with the dive community, the project will aid in the identification of in-situ eggcase grounds, providing vital evidence for marine protected area designation. We aim to benefit from pre-existing fieldwork, for example, by negotiating the retention of eggcase data resulting from government groundfish surveys – a source of data that’s currently not retained.
  • Improve: With new technologies, such as mobile phone applications, to aid identification and geo-reference finds, the Shark Trust believes it can improve the verification of records, increase the flow of incoming data and information, and ensure data compatibility with external data archive centres.
  • Deliver: The Shark Trust will seek to publish and present additional project findings for a range of audiences, including in peer-reviewed publications, sector-specific magazines (e.g., the dive community), and at scientific conferences. With over 30,000 eggcases reported, the Great Eggcase Hunt remains one of the UK’s most popular marine volunteer recording programmes and the Shark Trust believes that with dedicated investment the project can move to the next level.