Angel Shark ProjectScience 17.06.2015
Angel Shark Census in the Canary Islands based on divers sightings
The angel shark (Squatina squatina) was once common throughout Europe’s seas, but is now classified as extinct from much of its former range. The widespread use of unsustainable fishing practices in European waters has caused angel shark populations to dramatically decline over the last 100 years and they were listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List in 2006. The last remaining stronghold for this species is now in the Canary Islands, but here too they are under threat.
The Angel Shark Project has launched by the Zoological Research Museum Alexander Koenig (ZFMK) in Germany, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) in Great Britain and the University Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in Spain as a citizen science programme for the public to submit sightings of angel sharks in the Canary Islands, Spain. A major focus is to identify important habitats for the species e.g. nursery and foraging areas, and also answer basic ecological questions, such as when the breeding season is. This is the first time that data has been collected for angel sharks, and it will be used to inform effective conservation and management of the species.
The first step in tackling this problem is accurately determining where these fascinating animals are. In order to do that, the Angel Shark Project need your help to establish a regional monitoring network. Please, report all angle shark oberservations in the Canary Islands! Your records may help researchers fill critical gaps for conservation and species monitoring to secure the future of the critically endangered angel shark in Europe.
In June 2015, the Angel Shark Project team will start tagging angel sharks to identify residency and movement patterns within and between islands. Using the ePOSEIDON database, a tag-recapture programme will be implemented in three islands using an island specific colour scheme of non invasive visual tags that will be clearly visible to scuba divers.
The CMAS is delighted to support this project and we call on all CMAS scuba divers to support the Angel Shark Project in the Canary Islands.
If you have any further questions about the project or want to find out more, please contact the principal scientist and project coordinator of the Angel Shark Project Eva Meyers (firstname.lastname@example.org) and go to www.angelsharkproject.com