The aims and objectives of this project are to:

  1. Determine the seasonal distribution, aggregation sites and breeding patterns of the Angelshark across the Canary Islands
  2. Assess the population abundance and structure in the Canary Islands and the rest of its range.
  3. Identify residency and movement patterns within and between islands via a cost-effective tagging program.
  4. Raise public awareness using media platforms to disseminate information within the recreational diving and sport-fishing community about the necessity of avoiding disturbance of this shark species

This information should guide future decisions to overcome the main threats this species faces and guide the implementation of effective conservation measures.

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Team measuring and tagging an Angelshark underwater. Photo: Michael Scholl, Save our Seas Foundation

In April 2014, Angel Shark Project launched a citizen science programme to understand Angelshark distribution in the Canary Islands. Using this online database, we have identified distribution patterns and critical habitats (i.e. aggregation sites, breeding sites, nursery areas) across the entire archipelago. Preliminary results have shown that Angelsharks have a wider distribution in the archipelago than previously thought. Consequently, the need for more information on the species’ basic ecology, abundance and migratory patterns is essential to assess its conservation status and to implement future management strategies for this species.

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Gravid female Angelshark resting in the sand in Tenerife.                                                           Photo: Michael Scholl, Save our Seas Foundation

This project uses a collaborative sightings database, coupled with a shark-tagging programme, to further engage the diving community in registering sightings of tagged Angelsharks. Moreover, a genetic study is being conducted with leading researchers to understand the connectivity and population structure.

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Tagging equipment

Each island has a different coloured tag with a unique code for each shark
(Lanzarote and La Graciosa : Green , Fuerteventura : Orange , Gran Canaria : Pink, Tenerife: Yellow/ brown )

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Tagged Angelshark in Gran Canaria. Photo: Michael Scholl, Save our Seas Foundation

Tagging campaigns are done in each season of the year (spring, summer, autumn and winter) in Gran Canaria, Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote and La Graciosa. We have also started to monitor critical areas using a specific tagging methodology for juvenile Angelsharks in nursery areas.

We have developed a new underwater tagging methodology that reduces stress for the sharks. See how we tag angel sharks in the Canary Islands.

The outcomes of this programme will be a pivotal for monitoring trends in the species’ distribution and abundance over large spatial and temporal scales.

The tagging project is funded by the Save Our Seas Foundation and Deutsche Elasmobranchier Gesellschaft . We are very grateful for their support.

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