Easter Eggs: Mysterious Finds from Our Seas

It's the month of Easter, and we take a break from all that chocolate to celebrate some more mysterious egg varieties.

After a long Easter weekend of glorious sunshine, we're looking at a different sort of Easter egg: the kind produced by our amazing marine species. Which of these weird and wonderful specimens have you spotted on our beaches?

Shark and skate eggcases on the beach

Shark and skate eggcases on the beach © Amy Marsden

Catsharks and skates lay their eggs inside tough protective cases - the former with curly tendrils and the latter with pointy 'horns'. These eggcases (also known as 'mermaid's purses') come in many shades, shapes, and sizes, but luckily there are easy ways to identify each species.

Necklace shell snail sand collar © Hans Hillewaert

Necklace shell snail sand collar © Hans Hillewaert

If you see what looks like beige orange peel it could be the eggcase of a necklace shell, or moon snail. Females build a 'collar' around themselves from sand and mucus, which they lay their eggs in before burrowing away; as such the circumference of each sand collar can tell you the size of its maker.

Whelk egg case © Paul Naylor

Whelk egg case © Paul Naylor

Common whelks lay their eggs in big clusters that look a bit like balls of bubble wrap. Though pale and papery when empty, yellow ones may still have embryos inside. They are usually the size of an orange, but if several females lay their eggs in the same spot they can be as big as footballs.

Cuttlefish eggs

© Polly Whyte

Cuttlefish eggs are sometimes known as 'sea grapes', and it's easy to see why! Clusters of these distinctive eggs occasionally wash up on the beach - if you see any be sure to put them back in the water, as they could still hatch if kept hydrated.

Love our marine life?

The wildlife in our seas is truly fascinating - if you'd like to learn more about what hides beneath the waves, check out our project Secrets of the Solent.