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Angel Shark Project Ireland

Record your Angel Shark sightings from the Irish coast

Angel Shark Project: Ireland are delighted to team up with Biodiversity Ireland to help discover records of Angel Sharks from around the Irish Coast from both past and present.

Angel sharks are a unique species of bottom dwelling, flat shark that resemble an angel when viewed from above, giving rise to their descriptive name, the Angel shark (Squatina squatina).

Differing from many sharks that may come to your mind they are flattened in appearance so that they can bury themselves in the sand, where they take advantage of an opportunistic ‘ lie and wait’ technique to find their food, feeding on small fish, crustaceans and molluscs such as squid.

Locally they are often known as ‘Monkfish’ or ‘ Sand devils’ but they are a different species to the bony fish Lophius piscatorius also known as Monkfish. The Angel shark is a true shark with a cartilaginous skeleton and may initially resemble a skate or ray.

Angelsharks have unfortunately suffered great declines in their population due to contact the fishing industry, particularly as unintended bycatch due to their demersal or bottom dwelling nature.

The subsequent recovery of their population from such losses is further constrained by biological characteristics such as a low fertility and late sexual maturity. They may only give birth to 7-25 live pups measuring around 20-30 cm only every second year, as breeding is very energy and resource demanding.

Today they are listed on the IUCN- red list as Critically Endangered.

Historically the Angel Shark’s range extended from the Northwest Africa to Scandinavia. However, their range has suffered a dramatic contraction of 58%. With one of the last remaining strong holds to be found in the Canary Island archipelago. The population that remains here in Ireland and in Wales is considered their last known northerly refuge after being listed as extinct in the North Sea.

It is with this all of this in mind that the Angel Shark Project: Ireland led by Irish Elasmobranch Group are excited to team up with Biodiversity Ireland to locate as many records as possible of Angel Shark from all around the coast of Ireland. From these record we can learn a huge amount about this species and it’s little known ecology and biology and we hope that you may be able to help us in our efforts.

Submit Your Records Here!