Angel Shark Conservation Project

angel shark swimming

Why we are there

The angel shark (Squatina squatina) was once common throughout Europe’s seas, but is now classified as extinct from much of its former range. The angel shark is a large flat-bodied shark, which uses its broad pectoral fins to excavate depressions in the sand to ambush unsuspecting fish that swim within reach. They spend most of their time on the sea floor, making them particularly vulnerable to fishing practices such as trawling and bottom longlining. The widespread use of these fishing practices in European waters has caused angel shark populations to dramatically decline over the last 100 years.

Angel sharks were listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List in 2006 and ZSL is working with Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (ULPGC), to protect the last remaining population stronghold in the Canary Islands. 

Report angel shark sightings 

In April 2014, ULPGC launched Poseidon, a citizen science programme for the public to submit sightings of marine species in the Canary Islands. A major focus of Poseidon is to collect sightings of angel sharks, to identify important habitats for the species e.g. nursery and foraging areas, and also answer basic ecological questions, such as when the breeding season is. This is the first time that data has been collected for angel sharks, and it will be used to inform effective conservation and management of the species. Please submit your angel shark sightings to the Poseidon website.

Working with the sportfishing community

Angel sharks in the Canary Islands are under threat from lethal handling techniques used by the rapidly expanding sportfishing community (e.g gaffing and long periods out of water). ZSL want to work closely with the sportfishing community in the Canary Islands, designing a best practice guide to catch and release to enable sportfishers to conserve this charismatic shark. This will be part of a wider community engagement project and selected sportfishers will be recruited as ‘citizen scientists’ and trained to tag angel sharks, revealing the movements of this secretive species around the archipelago for the first time. See how ZSL's angel shark project is progressing

Vote now for the angel shark

Help us recieve funding to work with the sportfishing community and conserve angel sharks in the Canary Islands. A public vote is being held between 22 September and 6 October 2014 and the project with the most votes gets funded. Vote for the angel shark project!

Angel shark project partners
angel shark on sand

Help save the angel shark!

Vote for ZSL's angel shark project before 6th October & help us receive funding to conserve the species...

Project information

Key species

  • Angel shark (Squatina squatina)

People involved

Joanna Barker is the Project Manager of the Angel shark project

Partners and sponsors

  • Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
  • IUCN Shark Specialist Group

Kindly funded by:

  • Mohammed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund
  • Fundación Biodiversidad (Spanish Government - Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment)