The last Angel Shark tagging campaign this year has successfully ended.
This time our campaign started in La Graciosa Island, where we have previously tagged adult angel sharks. Javier and his team at Buceo La Graciosa helped us during the expedition. Again, finding angel sharks here is a real challenge. Compared to the rest of the archipelago, the pigmentation of angel sharks here is much lighter and it makes it really hard to distinguish them from the white sandy seabed.
Eventually, we managed to find a big male angel shark, 1,30m large and another 1,20m large female. We tagged the male, “LZ375” at 17m depth and gave him the name : Javi.
Normally, this time of the year “Shark Reef” gets very crowded with up to 15 sharks next to each other. This time, we were´t so lucky. Of course, once we left La Graciosa to continue tagging in Lanzarote, Javier started to see many sharks again….
In Lanzarote we tried our luck at “Playa Chica”. A storm was coming up and the conditions started to become really bad. After several night dives, morning dives, afternoon dives, strong currents… exploring the area, which is known for angel sharks, we saw “only” 2 large males (1,30 m and 1,50 m ) and a few “beds”. However, tagging swimming angel sharks is quite tricky, so we had to just enjoy the moment and watch them pass us.
This time of the year, angel sharks normally get quite active and are commonly found swimming nearshore. What they do? We suspect they look for females. Several times mating has been reported and observed during this time of the year. It is also quite obvious that in this period, larger sharks appear and even gravid females.
In fact, we discovered a potentially new nursery area in Lanzarote, where we tagged a large female, 1,20 m (LZ376) and 6 baby angel sharks. Based on the difference in size, we know that some of them where only just born and other have stayed in this beach for quite some time. Five of them got new names, two in honor of Carlos Suarez and Anna Clavero from Oceanos de Fuego, who support the Angel Shark Project since the beginning :
LZ 376 : Alejandra , 1,20 m total length
LZ 315 : Mateo, 25 cm total length
LZ 316 : Kelly, 45 cm total length
LZ 317 : Scuba
LZ 332 : Medusa 2.0
We are hoping to coma back next year and see if our friends have remained in this beach and explore this potential new nursery area for Lanzarote.
Our last stop is Las Teresitas in Tenerife.
Together with our Partners Asociación Tonina , students of the University of La Laguna and many professional Marine Biologists, we have tagged a total of 120 juvenile angel sharks only in Tenerife (after 4 campaigns). As usual, the team is very well prepared and the sharks are waiting for us right at the shore. This time we had a very nice and interested family joining us and learning about these amazing sharks as well as the local TV (Antena 3) reporting on our work. Las Teresitas remains unique and is our natural laboratory to find out more about this shark species.
With this campaign, we now have completed the entire year and we are hoping to compare our data from this year with next year´s data. The genetic samples we have taken, are currently being processes in the laboratory and we are hoping to find out more about the population structure and parentage here in Las Teresitas.
Many thanks to everyone that has collaborated in the tagging campaigns : Asociacion Tonina, La Graciosa Diving, Oceanos de Fuego, Michael Sealey, the Marine Biology Master Students of Biodiversity and Conservation of the University of La Laguna, members of The Ocean Brothers , friends from CIMA Canarias and many other citizen scientists that are helping us in achieving the aims of this project.
This project is kindly funded by the Save our Seas Foundation.