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Angel Shark Facts: Knowing Them Can Save Their Lives

angel shark picture - angel shark facts - datos sobre el pez angelote

Angel Shark: curiously, someone mixed these two words regarding sharks. It is weird, considering the distorted image that people have of them.

They say sharks are scary!

We say, instead, that the really scary thing is a world without sharks.

Last October 22nd, the Sharks International 2022 event was held in Valencia, Spain, where more than 400 international experts discussed how to stop the mass extinction of sharks.

Regarding our friend, the angel shark is considered one of the most endangered sharks in the Atlantic, which is no small feat considering the shark population has declined by 70% in recent decades.

At Dressel Divers, we believe that knowing deeper about the animals that inhabit the oceans is the first step to loving and respecting them. That’s why we write articles offering information about the animals we see in the Caribbean on a daily basis.

We have talked about the bull shark and whale shark. Today we will discover the following fun facts about the angel shark.

angel shark facts - pictures of angel sharks (2) datos sobre el pez angelote

1. What Is a Monkfish?

  • 1.1. Angel Shark’s Scientific Name

Monkfish, also known as angel fish and whose scientific name is Squatina squatina is of the Squatinidae shark family and Squatiniformes order.

They are characterized by their flat body, which allows them to remain attached to the seabed. For this reason, they are often confused with rays.

 

  • 1.2. Angel Shark Species

There are 23 species of angel sharks, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The smooth angel shark (Squatina david), (Squatina mapama) and (Squantina Squantina) are the most commonly seen in the Atlantic Ocean: the first 2 in the Caribbean and the latter in Europe, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Canary Islands.

 

  • 1.3. How Did Angel Sharks Get Their Name?

Their body shape is to blame for the common name of these sharks.

As you can see from photographs or by scuba diving, angel sharks have long, flat pectoral fins. Their pelvic fins are also shaped like wings, although they are smaller. Hence their name, their fins are reminiscent of “angel wings.”

 

  • 1.4. What Is Special About the Angel Shark?

People say that the angel shark is somewhere between a stingray and a shark, but this is not true. They are sharks. You can tell them apart from rays because they have five-gill slits on the sides of the head at the top, while rays have them under the body.

The mouth of the angel shark is at the front, while rays have it under the body. Another feature of angel sharks that differentiates them from rays is the barbels. The barbels are a type of mustache but are actually sensory organs that help them detect prey.

What differentiates them from other sharks is that they do not have an anal fin and their caudal fin is very different from those of other sharks, the upper one being much larger than the lower one. Another aspect that differentiates them is the spines on their skin, which help protect them from attacks.

2. Angel Shark Habitat

According to the Royal Encyclopedia Britannica, angel sharks live in temperate oceans around the world, preferably near the tropics. That does not mean they are easy to find because they have almost disappeared from their traditional locations.

Angel Sharks live perched on sandy soils or marshes, generally shallow. However, some specimens stay 150 m. /492 ft. deep.

 

3. Angel Shark Size

Angel sharks are not very large sharks, but they do tend to exceed the size of rays. In the Atlantic, they can reach 1.5 m/ 5 ft. And weigh 24 kg / 77 pounds, although some species, such as the Japanese angelfish, can measure up to a meter or more. 2.5m/ 8.2ft

 

4. Angel Shark Diet

  • 4.1. What Does the Angel Shark Eat?

As we have said, angel sharks live on sandy soil waiting for their victims. They are nocturnal ambush predators that wait patiently for their prey. When their appendages near their mouth locate the prey movements, they prepare to attack.

Their hunting areas are small, around 45-60 meters / 147-196 ft. Then, they move to a new hunting spot.

Their favorite dishes are fish (flounder, stingrays), benthic (crabs, prawns, sea urchins, clams, and octopus), and invertebrates that live at the bottom of the sea.

 

  • 4.2. How Many Teeth Does an Angel Shark Have?

Angel shark mouths contain 9 rows of teeth in the upper jaw and 10 rows in the lower jaw, but in the center, there is a gap between them.

 

5. Angel Shark Reproduction

Angel sharks are lecithotrophic viviparous, also called ovoviviparous. It means the mother carries the fertilized eggs in a gestation period between 8 and 10 months. The eggs then hatch inside it. So, the mother also gives birth to the young.

In each birth, between 7 and 25 pups of 24–34 cm in length are born. The number of offspring depends on the size of the mother.

Scientists think Angel sharks breed biennially. That does not help the regeneration of populations decimated by overfishing.

6. Angel Shark Lifespan

Angel shark lives between 25-35 years in the wild if it’s not been fished before.

 

7. Angel Shark Endangered Species and How Divers Are Helping in Its Conservation

Angel sharks are “critically endangered” worldwide. It is the second most endangered family of sharks behind the sawfish. Of the 23 species, 12 are on the UICNT Red List of Threatened Species. About the other 11, there are no data.

The main threats to this species are large-scale fishing and recreational fishing.

In some countries, scuba divers are helpful to angel shark conservation strategies. This is the case in Spain, more specifically in the Canary Islands.

Recreational divers record angel shark sightings on the conservation project’s website. In this way, scientists discover shark nesting sites, distribution, movement patterns, habitat use, and population structure of angel sharks to protect them and improve conservation strategies.

In addition to becoming an attraction, recreational divers are showing their commitment by contributing a wealth of data and helping to raise awareness of angel sharks.

Scuba divers there respect a simple diving protocol.

When they meet an angel shark while diving:

  • If it is buried: they keep a minimum distance of 1.5 m/ 5ft, do not touch it, dig it up, or feed it.
  • If there are several divers: they do not go around it and do not stand in front of it. They keep a minimum distance, do not lean on the sand, and stay on the side of the shark’s tail.
  • If the angel shark is swimming: they do not chase it or block its path.

Tell us, have you ever seen an angel shark while diving?

Please, share your experience with us on Facebook.

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