A group of marine scientists at the Marine Institute in Ireland made a rare and unexpected discovery while exploring Ireland’s deep ocean waters last July.
At a recent seminar, the team unveiled that thousands of egg cases were found by SeaRover, a remotely operated vehicle while surveying the region’s cold-water coral reefs.
In addition to the egg cases, a school of blackmouth catshark and sailfin roughshark were observed by scientists. The site’s egg cases are thought to belong to the catsharks.
The findings suggest that the area is being used as a brooding site by the sharks, something that scientists claim has never before been observed in the area.
Chief scientist David O’Sullivan was eager to announce the discovery:
“We are delighted to report the discovery of a rare shark nursery on a scale not previously documented in Irish waters. This discovery shows the significance of documenting sensitive marine habitats, and will give us a better understanding of the biology of these beautiful animals and their ecosystem function in Ireland’s Biologically Sensitive Area.”
The area has become of interest to the team at Marine Institute for potential hatchings in the future. While there were no shark pups swimming around the site, the researchers behind the SeaRover survey were able to capture footage and will be keeping a close eye on the nursery.
The nursery was discovered in one of six “protected” conservation zones. “Our key objective is to assess, protect and monitor Ireland’s rich offshore marine biodiversity so we can begin to manage our marine resources effectively,” Yvonne Leahy of the Ireland’s National Parks and Wildlife Service said in the statement. “Without knowledge of what lives in our seas we are at risk of never fully understanding and appreciating Ireland’s marine environment.”