Seaweed Sunday - Mermaid's Purse

This sunny seaweed Sunday we are featuring one of the oceans unknown gems, often known as a Mermaid's Purse and very often mistaken for seaweed as they look, feel very similar to seaweed and are often attached to big clumps of seaweed when washed ashore. 

mael-balland- shark egg

These amazing, ingenious leather looking pouches are not as you might suspect, Mermaid's purses... but (used) shark eggs.

The sea surrounding the UK is home to a small variety of sharks, fortunately none of which are known for attacking humans.  By far the most common shark is the Dog fish (Scyliorhinus canicula) which are found in shallow and also deep water all around the UK. 

These super tough, little sharks are the ones responsible for the Mermaid's Purse. The mother shark lays several eggs, often onto seaweed and rocks on the seabed.  It's very likely the eggs have evolved to look very much seaweed, to stop being eaten by predators, remaining hidden within seaweed and the rocks.

Dog fish photo by david-clode

If Mermaid's purses and seaweed have given you idea, could we use seaweed for leather?  Well the answer is, yes.  And there is already some incredible innovations going down to achieve this - more on that soon!