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The Angels of the Atlantic

January 15, 2020

By Chantal

As a passionated PADI IDC Staff Instructor Chantal has a decade of diving & teaching experience all around the world. Her mission is to spread her excitement for the underwater world and to create highly skilled divers.

When people think of sharks most of them have similiar images in their heads. Mostly it’s typical movie scenario, where a great white shark is ripping a surfers leg. No need to say that we divers face a totally different picture hearing the word “shark”.

But why do people usually only think of the popular more or less scary ones?

Actually there are so many different ones out there in the deep blue. Some are big with sharp teeth and look like the typical sharks. Others are small and actually super cute. But then, there is a species, that by first impression, you would not even think of it as a shark.
We are talking about the “Angels of the Atlantic”.

Here in Lanzarote we are lucky to see this incredible creatures in many of our dives. Still don’t know which ones we are talking about?

Yes, of course, it’s all about Angel Sharks!

Probably most people have never even heard of them until they have actually seen them. When they pass by first time in your life, you will probably check twice on it. Angel sharks might look prettey similiar to rays. Unusual for a shark are their flattened bodies and the broad pectoral fins. We think Angle Sharks are a very special species of shark. But why?

10 Reasons Why Angle Sharks Are Special

1 – The average weight is around 35 kg and they can become 25-35 years old.
2 – Biologically they differ from other sharks.
3– On its back they have five gills and they have their spiracels and eyes on the top of the body.
4 – They do not have a anal fin.
5 – Unusual for sharks, the upper lobe of the caudal fin is shorter than the lower one.
6 – They can be seen worldwide in temperate and tropical seas.
7 – They have unique predatory habbits. Most Angel Sharks live in the shallow and prefer sandy or muddy bottom, perfect to make use of camouflage to trap their prey.
8 – They are incredible hunters that capture their food within a 1/10 of a second with snapping their highly extensible jaws.
9 – They are usually staying along the costline, but during seasonal changes they tend to move towards the poles.
10 – The oxygen is delivered straight to the brain by the spricale, which is a special respiratory device located behind their eyes.

The Atlantic Angel shark can be found around the Canary Islands up to to Mauritania and Norway. Others can also be seen in the Mediterranean, the Black Sea, and off the coasts of Australia up to Japan.
Except during mating season Angel Sharks are a solitary species. Typically they prefer warmer waters in springtime to mate.

Why do so many divers and non-divers have never heard of Angel Sharks?

Currently there are about 21 recognized species of their kind. Unfortunatelly about 80% of the angel fish pups do not even reach adulthood. The Great White & the Boradnose Sevengill Shark, as well as theNorthern Elephant Seals are some of their few predators. But, as always, aswell the humans are one of the biggest predators of our amazing Angle Sharks. Sadly rhere are even fishing companies that offer  trips specifically foe hunting Angel Sharks.

Those amazing creatures are listed as critically endangered. Therefore Angel Sharks truly are a unique species. The preservation of the biodiversity of sharks is very important. Any kind of conservation efforts are helpful.

It is our mission to protect them and keep them safe so one day our grandchildrens’ kids will be still able to find Angel Sharks out there in the oceans of the world.

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