2014 Highlights of the Angel Shark Project

January – Feb logo-poseidonzsl-logo_0ZFMK_logo Universidad Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (ULPGC), Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and Zoologisches Forschungsmuseum Alexander König (ZFMK) have been organizing actions for the Angel Shark Project. March

  • Social Media actions: launch of

Facebook : Angel Shark Project

Bildschirmfoto 2015-03-05 um 11.55.11
Facebook Page

Twitter : @angelshark2014  /  #angelsharks #Vote4Angels

Eva Meyers with angel shark
Eva Meyers next to an angel shark
Sardina, Tony
Angel Shark @Sardina

In March we started with our diving expeditions to find angel sharks in popular diving spots in Gran Canaria. We also contacted local NGO´s working for shark protection, including Alianza Tiburones Canarias. Fernando and Manuela have been doing a lot of awareness raising work for angel sharks in the Canary Islands. They are very keen on supporting the project and help with the dissemination of it. logo alianza April

Screen shot 2014-04-09 at 12.50.31 PM
Programa Poseidon

April was a very important month for the Angel Shark Project. Our citizen science tool ePOSEIDON was launched with the Programa Poseidon marine biodiversity monitoring programme. This tool enables the user to register sightings of angel sharks in the Canary Islands, indicating the exact coordinates of the encounter in a map. Furthermore, the user can provide data on the date and time of the sighting, depth at sighting, water temperature, sex of the shark, habitat type, size of the shark and give information on the behaviour. This data is then used to identify critical habitats of angel sharks in the Canary Islands and make an assessment of the habitat use and population structure. Divers in all islands are encouraged to log their sightings and involved in citizen science to protect the endangered angel shark. We started contacting our first diving centers and participated in diving related events in Gran Canaria.

burrero
@Club Nautico El Burrero
evaburrero
Eva Meyers giving a presentation about the ePOSEIDON tool and the Angel Shark Project to divers.
2014-04-12 11.48.59
Big clean up action @El Burrero, Gran Canaria

May May was full of surprises. It was previously thought that there were no angel sharks in El Hierro Island. However, through our ePOSEIDON tool we found out that there are angel sharks in El Hierro. So we decided to visit El Hierro to contact diving centers and check the reef site where Extra Divers El Hierro encountered the angel shark.

@El Hierro Island
@El Hierro Island
Eva Meyers visiting the dive school Arrecifal, El Hierro
Eva Meyers visiting the dive school Arrecifal, El Hierro
Arrecifal team with Eva Meyers
Arrecifal team with Eva Meyers

Carlos and Anita own the dive center Arrecifal in El Hierro. They invited us to go diving with them and showed us the reef where the angel shark was encountered. Ever since, they have been actively monitoring el Hierro and informing us of any encounters. We have also visited and involved several diving centers in Gran Canaria. Particularly Buceo 7 mares Las Canteras have collaborated extensively with us. They do regular night dives in Sardina del Norte, Gran Canaria and have been observing angel sharks very carefully. Their participation in our project has been invaluable throughout the 2014 and they still actively log their sightings.

Eva Meyers presenting the Angel Shark Project @dive centers
Eva Meyers presenting the Angel Shark Project @dive centers
Eva showing Sergio from 7mares Las Canteras the ePOSEIDON database
Eva showing Sergio from 7mares Las Canteras the ePOSEIDON database

We have also been invited to give a presentation of the Angel Shark Project at Ciencia Compartida, at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. Eva presented the project to marine biology students of the Facultad de ciencias del mar. You can find the presentation HERE June – La Graciosa, Lanzarote , many newborns In June we visited Lanzarote and the Island La Graciosa that belongs to the Chinijo Archipelago. We managed to involve more dive clubs in Lanzarote such as Oceanos de Fuego and La Santa Diving.

Ana and Carlos (Oceanos de Fuego) with Eva
Ana and Carlos (Oceanos de Fuego) with Eva

Both diving centers have been actively participating and logging their encounters with Angel Sharks. Carlos and Ana own Oceanos de Fuego. They are very keen conservationists that educate their divers and do a lot of awareness raising work in Lanzarote. Additionally, Carlos Suarez is a stunning photographer and the official photographer of the Angel Shark Project.

Foto credit: Carlos Suarez. Oceanos de Fuego
Foto credit: Carlos Suarez. Oceanos de Fuego

We also met David Thompson from La Santa Diving. David is a Master Instructor at la Santa Diving but he also holds a degree in Marine Biology and he is a shark specialist. David is passionate about sharks and particularly angel sharks. He regularly posts news on angel sharks and logs every encounter into our database. He has a great knowledge of angel sharks and is a key collaborator of our project. David also won an award for most angel shark logs into the ePOSEIDON database.

David Thompson (La Santa Diving), Ricardo Haroun (Director Programa Poseidon) and the director of the ULPGC
David Thompson (La Santa Diving), Ricardo Haroun (Director Programa Poseidon) and the director of the ULPGC

In la Graciosa we have been warmly welcomed by Javier from Buceo la Graciosa, the only diving center on the island. Javier has taken care of us, giving us accommodation and taking us to the best dive spots around. He even organized a specific angel shark expedition. Javier and his team know everything around the island and know exactly were to find angel sharks.

La Graciosa Marine Reserve
La Graciosa Marine Reserve

Javier Bermudez

Eva and Javier
Eva and Javier
Javier Bermúdez, Eva Meyers and Bernd Müller (Reporter for the diving magazine Unterwasser)
Javier Bermúdez, Eva Meyers and Bernd Müller (Reporter for the diving magazine Unterwasser)

Bernd Müller, journalist for the german Unterwasser diving magazine, joined the trip to Lanzarote, La Graciosa and documented the process in Gran Canaria. His article about the Angel Shark Project was published later on in the 2015 january edition. Click HERE to read the article. July – Las Teresitas Summer is the peak season to observe angel sharks in the Canary Islands, particularly if you want to see neonates and juveniles. Last month we discovered a nursery ground in Las Teresitas beach in Tenerife. This month we went to las Teresitas to have a closer look at what is going on there.

Neonate @ Las Teresitas
Neonate @ Las Teresitas

Asociacion Tonina has now started a project to monitor the population of juvenile angel sharks in Las Teresitas. We are very happy to see more action and research being done on angel sharks. Asociacion Tonina and The Angel Shark Project have agreed to collaborate in the future. We will together tag individuals and work together to obtain more data on the angel shark population in the Canary Islands. FUERTEVENTURA We went to Fuerteventura and visited almost all diving cents from south to north. There are many angel sharks in Fuerteventura. Stefan and his team from Tauchschule Felix (Jandia divers) told us that they see angel sharks almost in every dive in all dive locations. Further north, Mar y Mas diving center and Punta Amanay also spot many angel sharks and actively log their encounters into our database. marymas August Screen shot 2014-08-16 at 6.18.17 PM Our Project Coordinator Joanna Barker from ZSL assisted the International Marine Conservation Congress in Scotland. Jo presented the Angel Shark Project for the first time to the international scientific community.

Angel Shark Cartoon
Angel Shark Cartoon
Jo Barker IMCC
Jo Barker IMCC

August was also Shark Week. Our friends from Sharks4Kids wrote a nice article about our principal investigator, Eva Meyers. You can read the article HERE. September This was a critical month for the Angel Shark Project. Between the 22 September and 6 October 2014 the angel shark project was in a public vote to win funding from the European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA). Unfortunately we came second place, but we would like to thank the 3,947 people who voted for angel sharks – we really appreciate your support. The winning project in the nature category was restoring habitat to protect the Gangetic river dolphin.

i vote for angel sharks
i vote for angel sharks

However, we have just found out that the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund are going to support our angel shark project. The conservation grant will be used to work with the sportifishing community in the Canary Islands to protect the last angel shark stronghold. We would like to thank the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund for their generous support. THE NEXT VOTING PERIOD FOR EOCA STARTS 9th – 23rd OF MARCH 2015 !! WE ARE COUNTING WITH YOUR VOTE !!

Neonate angel shark. Photo by Felipe Ravina
Neonate angel shark. Photo by Felipe Ravina

We also discovered another nursery ground in Lanzarote. So we rushed to explore the area and identified 5 newborn angel sharks.  We have also started to collect tissue samples for a future genetic study. October

William Frontado Verdejo
William Frontado Verdejo

The Poseidon Programme organized a photo contest to award the best pictures submitted to the ePOSEIDON database. One of the categories was “sharks and rays”. The winning pictures of the category were (surprise) angel sharks!!!

Michael Sealey
Michael Sealey

We also kept doing expeditions to remote areas and ship wrecks in Gran Canaria. We discovered many angel sharks in spots where no diving schools go to. We also visited La Palma, where we only have very few sightings.

Angel Shark Project team (Fernando Tuya, Tony Sanchez, Fernando Espino and Eva Meyers). Exploring remote areas
Angel Shark Project team (Fernando Tuya, Tony Sanchez, Fernando Espino and Eva Meyers). Exploring remote areas

November Bildschirmfoto 2015-03-05 um 13.52.38   The Angel Shark Project participated in the 2nd week of marine biodiversity organized by the Sociedad Atlantica de Oceanografos.  Jo Barker gave a presentation about the Angel Shark Project and ZSL.

EEA 2014
EEA 2014

The Angel Shark Project becomes even more international. Jo Barker and Eva Meyers went to the

THE EUROPEAN ELASMOBRANCH ASSOCIATION ANNUAL SCIENTIFIC CONFERENCE 2014 (EEA)

in the Leeuwarden, Netherlands. Jo presented the Angel Shark Project, the future aims and the work that will focus on the sport fishing community. Eva presented the preliminary results for the first 6 months data of the ePOSEIDON database and the data collected with the team. We are currently working on a paper on the Pattern in the distribution, population structure and habitat use of the angel shark Squatina squatina in the Canary Islands. The paper will be ready to submit after completing the annual cycle in april 2015. Find HERE the proceedings of the EEA 2014 conference.

Eva Meyers @EEA2014
Eva Meyers @EEA2014
Joanna Barker @ EEA2014
Joanna Barker @ EEA2014
EEA 2014
EEA 2014

Eva also gave a presentation at the Zoological Research Museum Alexander König in Bonn, Germany. She presented the Angel Shark Project and the preliminary results to the scientific community.   ZFMK_logo Winter has started and with it the mating season in the Canary Islands!

Photo: Carlos Suarez, Oceanos de Fueo
Photo: Carlos Suarez, Oceanos de Fueo

We have obtained the first sightings of large males coming close to the shore, looking for females. The first female sharks have appeared with scarring. Many large females have been sighted so far.   December   Right in time for Christmas we received some great news from the Save our Seas Foundation. We have been granted 10000 USD for a tagging project that will be lead by our principal investigator Eva Meyers. SOSF Logo 2014 With this project we will focus on the movement patterns and side fidelity of angel sharks within the Canary Islands. Angel sharks will be tagged off Lanzarote, Gran Canaria and Tenerife with floytags and a color code to identify the island they are from. The tagging project will involve local collaborators from these islands which will be trained to also tag the sharks. We will also work with Asociacion Tonina in Tenerife to monitor the movement patterns of the juveniles from las Teresitas. The project will start with a preliminary pilot tagging study in April, that is financed by the Disney foundation. This study will identify the best tagging methodology for angel sharks and train all participants in the tagging procedure. The tagging actions will then be conducted in two seasons: summer and winter. We have had a very exciting year and we would like to thank all participants and collaborators for all their efforts!!!    Thanks, The Angel Shark Project Team.

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