Angelshark

Angelshark, Squatina squatting

IUCN Redlist Assessment: Critically Endangered

Watercolour paint and pencil on paper

Artist: Jacqueline Gomes

The angelshark or monkfish is a distinctive shark species found in the northeast Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea and the only species of angel shark that is found around the coast of the British Isles. It is a “flat shark” (one that is dorsoventrally flattened), giving it superficial resemblance to a ray.  It measures up to 2.4m long and is an ambush predator, relying on camouflage to surprise its prey. Once widespread, the angel shark family (Squatinidae) has been declared the second most threatened of all sharks and rays’ families, following the sawfishes. Since the mid-20th century, intense commercial fishing across the angelshark’s range has decimated its population and it is now locally extinct or nearly so across most of its northern range, and the prospects of the remaining fragmented subpopulations are made more precarious by its slow rate of reproduction. As a result, the International Union for Conservation of Nature has assessed this species as Critically Endangered.

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