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Eggcase research in project Sharks and rays back into the North Sea

In June 2015 the project “Sharks and Rays back into the North Sea” (‘Haaien en roggen terug in de Noordzee) started, a collaboration of five parties (Dutch Worldwide Fund for Nature (, Breeding Facility Blue Linked (, Dutch Recreational Angling Union (Sportvisserij Nederland,, North Sea Foundation (Stichting de Noordzee, and Dutch Shark Society (, which signed a collaboration agreement for four years.  

The Grote Eikapseljacht (Great Eggcase hunt, contributes indirectly to this research as well: empty eggcases from the wild, that were collected by volunteers, are examined at Blue Linked, a.o. for predation marks to see which natural predators feed on them.

The breeding facility in Utrecht is the place where egg cases of sharks and rays are bred and research is carried out. Part of the project is the development of breeding protocols to share knowledge and best practices for animal management. The eggcases are collected in aquaria and on May 1st, 2016, the first thornback rays were born. Now, over 300 young thornback rays are thriving in the aquaria. Their development is documented and the research aims at the best practices of raising the animals in captivity and exploring the feasibility of a possible later reintroduction in the North Sea.

The project attracted a lot of media attention: national television, newspaper, television news and internet vlogs!

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