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Rare Angel Shark Appearance Raises Hope for Endangered Species

New footage from the coast of Wales shows a young angel in action.
Gif: ZSL / JD Scuba / Gizmodo

Wonderful footage of a lonely young angel shark suggests that the endangered species is actively breeding in British waters.

Photographer and marine biologist Jake Davis captures a lone angel shark (Squatina squatina) swimming and feeding off the coast of Wales. Davis is Project Coordinator for Angel Shark: Wales, a group committed to learning more about these bottom dwellers. and how they can live in this region.

Davis spent about 15 minutes with the angel shark, capturing photos and videos of the animal in action. This is the first underwater footage of an angel shark in Wales and is spectacular in its own right, but only 11.8 inches (30 cm) long is a juvenile – and that’s potentially good news.

“Wales is home to one of the last populations of angel sharks in their northernmost range, and this video provides additional evidence that they are using the waters around Wales for childbirth,” says Joanna Barker, Senior Project Manager, Zoological Society of London (ZSL) … and co-founder of the Angel Shark Project, explained in an email. “This is a really good indication that the population of endangered angel sharks using this area are actively breeding.”

The Angel Shark project is led by Natural Resources Wales and ZSL and works with local communities and fishermen to gather information about the species. It is now illegal to hunt or disturb angel sharks in Wales.

These predatory fish are found in shallow waters along the entire Mediterranean coast, as well as along the coasts of northwest Africa and the western United Kingdom. Recreational activities and fishing have put them in critical danger, according to to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Geographic range of angel sharks.  Tawny areas show where angelfish live, red shows where they may have become extinct, and gray areas where their presence is undetermined.

Geographic range engale sharks. Show tanning areas red indicates where angelfish live, where they may have become extinct, and gray indicates where their presence is doubtful.
Image: IUCN

These marine animals have flattened bodies similar to stingrays. During the hunt, they burrow into sand or mud, where unsuspecting fish, crustaceans or cephalopods lie in wait. Angel sharks have sharp teeth, so you won’t want to disturb them when they are busy with their day to day activities.

V miniature size of animal captured on camera“The Angel Shark was born this year,” Barker explained. New footage also shows that “Young angel sharks use both sand and mixed habitats and hunt gobies, “which is” important information for building our understanding of the ecology of angel sharks in the region. ” Gobies are small to medium-sized.the size bony bottom fish.

Davis has spent a lot of time diving in Wales, so Barker was “happy” that he was finally able to locate and photograph an angel shark after such a long search. He was able to capture various behaviors on camera, including footage of feeding an angel shark, which Barker called a “highlight.”

Anyone with records of this species can submit them to the Angel Shark project via interactive map… “These recordings are vital to our project,” Barker said.

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