Thursday, August 30, 2012

Errant egg

The egg of a rhea has apparently floated all the way from its native South America to the coast of England - a distance of some 4,500 miles (7200km) across the Atlantic Ocean! Kayaker Charlie Cain, 49, found the egg 238' (100m) out from Brighton Beach earlier this month and describes, "I first saw it when I was about 10' (3m) away from it and I thought it was a ball. I pulled it out of the water and saw it was an egg and my first thought was what kind of egg it was and how it had ended up there. I was thinking it must have come from a seabird so I was shocked to hear it was a rhea which is very much a land bird. The way the egg rattles makes me think that it was germinated. One of the pleasures of kayaking when the sea is calm is looking along the chalk beds at the starfish but coming across a giant floating egg was not something I was expecting.” The day after he found it, Cain brought it to the the legal repository for birds’ eggs in Brighton, the Booth Museum, where it was examined. The egg measures 6" (15cm) and weighs more than a pound (453g). Curator John Cooper calls it amazing and observes, “We know it’s definitely the egg of a rhea because we have other examples here to compare." Although 20 of the exotic birds are kept 22mi (36km) to the northeast in Pevensey, owner Sheikh Abid Gulzar comments, “I don’t think the egg would have come from us. Someone might have picked one up and put it in the sea but how could it reach Brighton and not break?” Though they can’t rule out human involvement, and explain that the tough but porous egg would eventually have sunk, the puzzled boffins are concluding that it came from across the sea. Cooper remarks, “It obviously still has its contents judging by its weight but it’s certainly past being made into an omelette. I can only imagine what it smells like.”

Lee Ismail, Curator of Natural Sciences, measures the rhea egg at the Booth Museum (1st image) and Curator John Cooper compares it to others in the collection (2nd image, more photos here).
A Cabinetful of eggs:

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