On Tuesday, November 4th the Dublin Branch of IWT had its monthly Green Drinks meeting to hear Dr Sarah Varian of Marine Dimensions talk about the Purse Search Ireland project, set up to monitor Ireland's shark and ray species.
In 2007, Purse Search Ireland was set up in a desperate effort to save our critically endangered sharks and rays, by encouraging the Irish public to report their observations of mermaids’ purses around Ireland’s coastline. Mermaids’ purses, which are actually the eggcases of sharks, skates and rays, sometimes wash up on the seashore, indicating that there's a nursery close by. It was hoped that the public’s participation could be used to provide information necessary for fisheries conservation management, while at the same time raising public awareness for Ireland’s marine wildlife and environment.
Sarah informed the meeting that the response to the project has provided a lot of valuable information on the distribution of shark and ray species, which will be useful in devising conservation strategies. Several 'hotspots' have been identified, including Tralee Bay, which for some reason has a wide variety of ray species. It is in finding out this kind of information and figuring out the reasons for it, that the project will prove its worth.
|A spotted ray purse found in County Mayo this year|