Subject: Re: shark eggs

Greg Early (
Thu, 22 Oct 1998 17:08:23 -0400

At 09:35 PM 10/20/98 EDT, you wrote:
>I am an enrichment teacher at St. Mary School, Ocean, NJ, teaching children
>Kto 8.  On Columbus Day, my husband and I enjoyed the day off by going to the
>Hereford Inlet, south of Stone Harbor in NJ.  This is an undeveloped inlet
>with a changing sand bar separating the ocean and bay.  You can spot oyster
>catchers, sanderlings, plovers, skimmers, terns, etc. enjoying the stopover.
>As we walked the ocean side, my husband found a spiral of what we believe to
>be shark eggs.  We had a cooler, so we were able to transport it home (about
>50 miles later in the day) and put the spicimen in alcohol and took it in to
>school the next day to share with our students (enrollment 240).  We are in
>the process of finding a confirmed identity.  Can you help us?  When I
hold it
>up, it measures about 12 inches, is quite flexible (I put it in a sandwich
>baggie in the cooler) and has a series of flat disks in graduated sizes,
>2 inches in diameter mostly, about 1/4 inch thick.  We would really like to
>have some ideas on how to go about correctly identifying it.  We would
>appreciate any help or advice you can give us.  Congratulations on being
>selected "Scientist of the Month".
>Judy McShea
>1126 Interlaken Ave.
>Ocean, NJ 07712
>ST. Mary School
>73 Wickapecko Dr.
>Ocean, NJ 07712

Ms McShea (and class),

It sounds like what you might have is a conch egg case and not a shark egg
case.  Usually shark eggs are pretty big and few of them lay them in
"chains" like that.  From the description the case sounds more mollusk than
shark.  One way to check, however would be to pry open a couple of the
cells and see what you have in there.   You might have to flush the
contents out with some water or alcohol.  Providing the case had not
hatched before you got to it, you will see tiny critters (you might need a
magnifier or dissecting scope) my guess would be little conch.  Peterson
also makes a very good field guide to the shore and I think you might be
able to identify it from that.

Good Luck,

Greg Early
Edgerton Research Laboratory				
New England Aquarium
Central Wharf
Boston, Mass 02110
617-973-5246 (phone)
617-723-6207 (FAX)