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European angel shark (Squatina Squatina)

Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 152511899

Saving the Angels of the Atlantic from extinction: Conservation project in the Canary Islands

Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation (Project No. 152511899) - European angel shark - Awarded $15,000 on December 21, 2015

What is an angel shark? 

Three angel shark species were once widespread throughout Europe's seas, but are now extinct from much of their former range. Today, the Canary Islands is the only place where the Angelshark (Squatina squatina) is regularly sighted. However, here too they are under threat and urgent action is required to protect them in their last remaining stronghold.

The decline of angel sharks across Europe has been caused by the intensification of fishing practices over the last 100 years. All three species of angel shark found in Europe were classified as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List in 2006 and 2015. Furthermore, in 2014, the angel shark family was identified as the second most threatened of all the world's sharks and rays.

The Angel Shark Project

The Angel Shark Project is an interdisciplinary programme that collects ecological and population data whilst engaging with local communities, researchers and government to raise awareness and deliver conservation action. The Zoological Society of London (ZSL), Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria(ULPGC) and Zoological Research Museum Alexander Koenig (ZFMK) set up the Angel Shark Project in 2014 with the overall goal to safeguard the future of Critically Endangered angel sharks throughout their natural range. We acheive this through five key areas:

  • Understanding the biology and behaviour of Angelshark through collecting observations, tagging and genetic research.
  • Reducing mortality and disturbance of Angelshark by working with key stakeholders.
  • Raising awareness of the importance of the Canary Islands for Angelshark conservation with the local population, expatriate population and tourists in the archipelago.
  • Providing evidence for and driving legislative change with local authorities and governments.
  • Delivering Europe-wide conservation initiatives through a developed Angel Shark Conservation Network.

MBZ Funded work

The MBZ funded projet focuses on two key areas:

  • Convene a workshop of elasmobranch experts and local stakeholders in Gran Canaria, resulting in the development and distribution of an evidence-based Angel Shark Conservation Strategy and a Canary Island Action Plan.
  • Complete Angelshark conservation expeditions to conduct angel shark surveys and develop relationships with the diving and sportfishing communities

Project document