You can become a scientist too! How to identify mermaid’s purses (a.k.a. shark eggcases) for shark conservation.

Dr Chantel Elston

  • Duration: 60 min
  • Language: English
  • Ages: All Ages
  • Date: February 11, 2021 20:00
  • Recorded: Live session with recording available afterwards
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ELMO is a citizen science project, relying on data collected from members of the public. We’re trying to understand where sharks and rays live along the South African coastline so that we can better protect these vulnerable animals. We encourage members of the public to let us know when they’ve encountered a shark or ray in the wild. You can be an angler, diver, snorkeler, or even beach-walker! We also want to know when and where mermaid’s purses wash ashore.

Did you know these are actually the eggcases of sharks and rays? Certain species lay eggs and after the juvenile has hatched, these empty eggcases wash ashore. Every species’ eggcase looks a little different, so in this workshop you’ll learn how to identify which species the eggcase came from. We’ll go through a list of the most popular eggcases you’ll be likely to find, and the important features to look out for when identifying them. That way, whenever you pick up an eggcase on the beach, you’ll have the skills to identify them and will be able to help scientists in their efforts to conserve sharks and rays.


Dr Chantel Elston is the current project manager for ELMO. She has seven years of experience working with sharks and rays and her current research focuses on understanding the movement patterns of South Africa’s stingrays. She has called South Africa home for her whole life and has a passion for the welfare of its coastline and oceans. Chantel joined the ELMO team because she believes the only way in which we can successfully take care of our oceans is if we foster an interest and love for the ocean in everybody. Consequently, she is dedicated to science communication and also has a YouTube channel called TellysMarineTales.