An increasing number of sightings of angel sharks, the most rare and critically endangered in the world, have been recorded off the coast of Wales, United Kingdom.
These sharks are of a flattened shape and spend most of their time at the bottom of the marine book ambushing fish; Their strange appearance makes them similar to stripes, reports Walesonline on January 25.
Now conservationists are encouraging people to share data on the rare species of angel sharks, particularly from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and NRW.
“We are asking people across Wales to help us understand more about this important shark’s historic range and its Welsh cultural connection. Someone might have an old photograph in the drawer, a memory of their grandfather fishing or possibly even be able to tell us about a recent sighting of an Angel shark,” says Joanna Barker, Angel shark Project Manager at the Zoological Society of London.
In the past, the population of angel sharks was significantly big in the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean Seas, extending from Scandinavia to North-West Africa. However, due to habitat disturbance, pollution and incidental fishing, the numbers quickly dwindled and the species was classified as critically threatened in 2010.
However, in recent years, they have been increasingly caught in accidental catches off the Welsh coast, particularly in front of Cardigan Bay and north of Holyhead.
“Even if people haven’t ever heard of an Angel shark, we’d love them to come along and tell us about the local area – changes in local industry, fishing practices or infrastructure could all help us to fill in the blanks of the Angel shark’s history and create the best plan of action to safeguard them into the future,” Ms. Baker added.
Angel sharks are protected and it is illegal to capture it while fishing in British waters. “If we lose the angel shark, we lose a really important lineage of evolutionary history that we can not get from any other shark species,” Barker said.