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 Marine Dimensions > Mermaid's purses  

What are Mermaids' Purses?

Although most sharks and rays give birth to live young or pups, some species actually lay eggs (that later develop into embryos) surrounded by a tough protective case. These eggcases can often be seen washed up on beaches and are sometimes referred to as mermaids’ purses. The purses are initially laid by the adult female in a suitable habitat on the seafloor, with the young embryo developing within the eggcase for up to 15 months. The baby shark, skate or ray then hatches out of the purse and swims away, leaving the discarded eggcase behind it.

A live dogfish embryo still inside its purse (© Alice Wiegand).

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