January – Feb 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
Twitter : @angelshark2014 / #angelsharks #Vote4Angels
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. April
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. August 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.
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.
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 !!
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
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!!!
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.
November 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.
The Angel Shark Project becomes even more international. Jo Barker and Eva Meyers went to the
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 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. Winter has started and with it the mating season in the Canary Islands!
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. 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.