Saturday 31 October 2015

Connemara beachcombing

Things have been a little quiet on the bird front of late. While I was out on Inishmore I picked up a few dogfish & skate/ray eggcases along the strandline. Out of boredom I decided to find out a little bit about these eggcases (also known as mermaids purses) that are laid by some small shark and all ray/skate species. Most intact eggcases are easy enough to identify and it gives an idea of what species may be found in a locality. I found very useful information on The Shark Trusts website here There's also a fantastic app which can be downloaded which has a key for identifying them, detailed information on the species and also has the option to upload your sightings directly to the Shark Trust, well worth a look.
I've picked a few more up here on the mainland since. Lesser spotted Catshark which is commonly called Dogfish are certainly the commonest species I've encountered here so far.
Several species are listed as critically endangered under the IUCN Red List Assessment, mostly the larger species of skate due to overfishing. The best area on a strand seems to be the very highest tide mark.

While having a quick look at Rossadillask during the week I came across a sea bean called Sea Heart. This is a seed from a species of flowering vine that grows in the tropical Americas and the West Indies. The vines grow along riverbanks where the seeds are dropped into the river and are dispersed further downstream or even along the coastline. As they are buoyant and long lived they are sometimes caught up in the Gulf Stream which can carry them all the way to western Europe. An amazing journey for such a small little thing.

Small-spotted Catshark Scyliorhinus canicula eggcases.

Nursehound Scyliorhinus stellaris eggcases.

Blonde Ray Raja brachyura on extreme left, three and a half Thornback Rays Raja clavata on top and seven Spotted Ray Raja montagui eggcases below.

All Thornback Rays Raja clavata

The Great Eggcase Hunt App.

Sea Heart Entada gigas

Sea Heart Entada gigas

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