There are 440 known types of sharks in this world. One of them, the Angel shark, used to be found in Wales and in some other parts of the world 100 years ago, but in the recent past has been found in the waters by the Canary Islands. Marine biologists have recently found evidence that this rare and endangered type of shark is living off the coast of Wales in the United Kingdom once again.
The Canary Islands are a part of Spain, and are located in the Atlantic Ocean, near Africa.
Fishermen have spotted the angel sharks at numerous locations in the Welsh waters. Marine biologists are now trying to find out how many of these sharks are living in the Welsh waters and where exactly are they located. They also want to understand whether these sharks are moving back and forth between Wales and the Canary Islands or elsewhere, and if they are distinct or separate populations, or the same.
About Angel Sharks: There are 23 different kinds of Angel sharks. Angel sharks are very valuable to the marine environment as they are top predators and are listed as the fifth most Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered type of shark in the world. These large sharks have flat bodies and spend most of their time camouflaged on the sea bed, waiting for their prey to swim near them. They are very, very flat, like sting rays, and are sometimes mistaken for them. They eat fish and shellfish on the sea beds.
Where are they found? These sharks were commonly found around the world. However, in recent times, their numbers have dwindled due to loss of habitat, pollution and overfishing.
What happens next? The researchers have scheduled dives later in the year to look for direct evidence of these sharks off the coast of Wales. They will also take swabs from the shark’s skin for further research. Until then, marine experts hope to gain information about the angel sharks from locals through a roadshow. Travelling across Wales, the roadshow will not only highlight the importance of the Angel shark but also seek photos and stories from local communities about angel shark sightings, to better understand the species.
Written by: Chandni Shah. Chandni is a picture book collector, an educator and founder of Simplifly, a learning venture for children.