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Coastal, General, Inshore

Mermaid’s Purses

While we were walking along the high tide line on Carrowniskey Beach last week, Louise spotted a Mermaid’s Purse, easy to miss, cast as it is amongst the deposited kelp of similar leathery brown shades of colour. Such a camouflaging relationship was once so necessary, when the purse held a tiny shark, skate or ray and the kelp held to the rock and provided cover for the purse until its inhabitant was ready to leave. What is interesting is that they now continue this relationship on dry land, seemingly long after all evolutionary advantages have passed.

Spotted Ray purse, source:marinedimensions.ie

Spotted Ray purse, source:marinedimensions.ie

What is also interesting is the information value we can draw from these purses. Purse Search Ireland at marinedimensions.ie wants to know if you find one of these to aid them in compiling information regarding the location of nursery areas for these species. They provide an online form to record details which are extremely useful in realizing this valuable conservation project.

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