Meet the European angel shark. A flatter version of many of its more famous shark relatives, it spends a lot of time waiting on the seabed, using its outstanding camouflage as a means to ambush prey.
Jaws it isn’t, but it still makes a ferocious predator. Having waited still for many hours for a fish to swim past, it can lash out and capture its prey in a tenth of a second.
Sadly, as much as it might seem like the angel can look after itself, it currently needs all the help it can get.
Angel sharks were once an important predator across much of Europe’s oceans, but are now extinct from much of their former range due to practices like bottom trawling which have intensified over the past 100 years. As a result of their dramatic decline, they were classified as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List in 2006.
Time is running out
Thankfully, a last remaining stronghold exists in the Canary Islands. But in order to protect angel sharks in these waters, we urgently need to gather data on their distribution and areas which are important for their lifecycle - for example, key pupping grounds.
The remaining population is also under serious threat due to lethal handling techniques adopted by the rapidly expanding sportfishing industry. Sportfishers are not intentionally putting this incredible species at risk. Many angel shark deaths are down to lack of education about protection and handling of the species.
Act now to save angels
This is where the Angel Shark Project team* (and hopefully you) come in. We have been working closely with the diving community to gather sightings of angel sharks across the Canary Islands and started working with sportfishers in 2015. We want to expand our education project with these communities and we desperately need your help to do this.
To grow our project we need funding, and we have a chance to win some from the European Outdoor Conservation Association. We just need enough votes to win it.
So here’s your chance to take a few seconds and play your part in saving a shark species.
Help us spread the word
Once you’ve voted, if you want to do a little extra for angels, share the link online using the hashtag #vote4angels.
Whether we’re voting, educating, or fishing, if we act now we might just be able to make sure angels exist for future generations to enjoy.
* The Angel Shark project team is made up of ZSL, Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and Zoological Research Museum Alexander Koenig
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