The Mersey Gateway Project

Mermaid’s purses found on Widnes Warth salt marsh by Mersey Gateway environmental team

December 15, 2015adminNews

Shark egg cases – also known as ‘mermaid’s purses’  – were found washed up on Widnes Warth saltmarsh by a member of Merseylink’s environmental team today.

Mermaids PursesIt is thought that the egg cases probably come from a type of shark known as a Nursehound (Scyliorhinus stellaris) which can be found around the UK coastline.

Over 30 species of shark can be found off the UK coast. Some species of shark give birth to live young (viviparous), whilst others lay eggs (oviparous). The egg cases are often washed up on our shores.

Nursehound sharks are classed as near threatened species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature ‘Red List’. Nursehound adults can grow up to 2m in length and they feed on molluscs, crustaceans, fish and cephalopods. Nursehounds are nocturnal. Benthic dwelling sharks (bottom dwelling).

The egg cases were discovered during a walk across the salt marsh by Merseylink’s environmental team, who work hand in hand with the construction team building the new bridge and the approach roads to monitor and manage the project’s impact on the local environment.

Hayley Percival, Environmental Assistant with Merseylink, who found the egg cases, said: “It isn’t unusual to find mermaid’s purses as far up as the Upper Mersey Estuary because it is still tidal here, they wash up with the incoming tide from the Irish sea where the young will have hatched.”

She added: “These shark egg cases are very beautiful, and it was a real thrill to spot them as we were walking across the saltmarsh at Widnes Warth.

Hayley is one of a ten strong environmental team working on the Mersey Gateway Project. The project is a green project that will bring major environmental benefits to the local area, and environmental issues have been a key focus since the project was first developed.

Key to that has been the creation of The Mersey Gateway Environmental Trust, which is an independent charitable trust set up to promote the conservation, protection and improvement of the environment across a 1600 hectare area of the Upper Mersey Estuary running all the way from the Mersey Gateway Bridge up river as far as Warrington. The Trust aims to create a new 28.5 hectare nature reserve around the bridge.

Halton Borough Council Mersey Link

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