ANGEL SHARK PROJECT: CANARY ISLANDS

Secure the future of the Critically Endangered Angelshark in its unique stronghold of the Canary Islands

 

ANGEL SHARK PROJECT: CANARY ISLANDS

Secure the future of the Critically Endangered Angelshark in its unique stronghold of the Canary Islands

 

ANGEL SHARK PROJECT: CANARY ISLANDS

Secure the future of the Critically Endangered Angelshark in its unique stronghold of the Canary Islands

 

ANGEL SHARK PROJECT: CANARY ISLANDS

Secure the future of the Critically Endangered Angelshark in its unique stronghold of the Canary Islands

INTRODUCING ANGEL SHARKS

The angel shark family is the second most threatened family of sharks and ray in the world. These species are susceptible to the combined impacts of fishing and habitat degradation, due to their coastal location and biology (large, flat-bodied animals with low reproduction rates).

Three species of angel shark were once widespread throughout the Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea (Angelshark, Sawback Angelshark & Smoothback Angelshark), but following widespread decline only fragmented populations remain. Find out more about these species on the Angel Shark Conservation Network and in a recently published paper.

The Canary Islands is the unique stronghold for one species – the Angelshark (Squatina squatina) – where it is found in much greater numbers and is regularly sighted by divers and fishers.

HOW ARE ANGELSHARKS PROTECTED IN THE CANARY ISLANDS

In 2019, Angelsharks were added to the Spanish Endangered Species List for Canary Island waters, under the category of “in danger of extinction” (the highest category within this legislation). In practice this means that any action performed with the purpose of killing, capturing, or disturbing Angelsharks; as well as destruction or deterioration of Angelshark habitat and breeding areas; or processing, selling, transporting, trading or exchanging live or dead Angelsharks is strictly prohibited.

ANGEL SHARK SIGHTINGS MAP

Have you seen an angel shark?

Help us better understand and protect angel sharks by reporting your sighting to the Angel Shark Sightings Map

Thank you for collaborating!

WHO WE ARE

The aim of the Angel Shark Project: Canary Islands is to secure the future of the Critically Endangered Angelshark in its unique stronghold

Angel Shark Project: Canary Islands is a multidisciplinary programme that collects ecological and population data whilst engaging with local communities, researchers and government to raise awareness and deliver conservation action.

OUR TEAM

The Angel Shark Project is a collaboration between three European Partners: The University of Las Palmas in Gran Canaria (ULPGC), the Zoological Research Museum Alexander Koenig (ZFMK) and Zoological Society of London (ZSL). The Angel Shark Project: Canary Islands was established in 2013 and has grown into a network of collaborators, including researchers, government, divers, fishers and photographers.

The core Angel Shark Project: Canary Islands team are:

Co-Founder and Co-Lead

Joanna Barker

ZSL

Co-Lead

Dr. David Jimenez Alvarado

ULPGC

Project Officer

Belen Caro

Angel Shark Project

Project Officer

Michael J. Sealey

Angel Shark Project

Videographer

Felipe Olivares

Especies de Canarias

IoZ Research Fellow

Dr. David Jacoby

Institute of Zoology (ZSL)

Project Administrator

Charlotte Pike

ZSL

ANGEL SHARK PROJECT: CANARY ISLANDS OBJECTIVES

Collect data on Angelshark ecology to inform conservation

Read more

  • Angelshark distribution: Divers and fishers record Angelshark sightings on the sightings map. Citizen science data will be regularly analysed by the ASP team.
  • Angelshark movement and site fidelity: investigated through visual ID tagging, acoustic tagging at key hotspots and genetic research.
  • Angelshark abundance: Divers complete organised Count the Angels events around the Canary Islands each year.
  • Critical habitats: possible Angelshark nursery areas and mating areas are identified and monitored through regular underwater visual surveys and visual ID tagging.
  • Angelshark reproduction and juvenile ecology: Confirmed Angelshark nursery areas are studied using mark-recapture tagging surveys and genetics to understand juvenile Angelshark growth rates, site fidelity and philopatry.

Reduce mortality and disturbance

Read more

  • Working closely with sportfishing companies to reduce Angelshark mortality in the Canary Islands (see our recreational Best Practice guide).
  • Completing research to understand the impact of the recreational fishing sector on Angelsharks.
  • Working with key commercial fishers to reduce incidental catch of Angelsharks (see our commercial Best Practice guide).
  • Developing an Angelshark code of conduct to eliminate diving-related disturbance of Angelsharks.

Provide evidence and drive legislative change

Read more

  • The Angelshark Action Plan for the Canary Islands was developed with local stakeholders to identify key actions needed to improve Angelshark conservation in the Canary Islands.
  • Provide information and work closely with local, national and European governments to improve the levels of Angelshark protection in relevant legislation.
  • Highlight important Angelshark habitats that would benefit from spatial protection.

Raise awareness of the importance of the Canary Islands for Angelsharks

Read more

  • Raise awareness that the Canary Islands is the unique Angelshark stronghold in Europe.
  • People in the Canary Islands are aware of the status of Angelsharks and support conservation.
  • Visitors understand the importance of the Canary Islands to Angelshark conservation.

Develop the Angel Shark Conservation Network

Read more

  • In 2016, the Angelshark Action Plan for the Canary Islands and Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean Angel Shark Conservation Strategy was created in collaboration with the IUCN SSG, Shark Trust, Submon and a network of stakeholders.
  • The Angel Shark Conservation Network was developed to allow information-sharing, networking and developing Europe-wide initiatives to conserve the angel shark.

PROJECTS IN DETAIL

1 – CITIZEN SCIENCE AND WORKING WITH DIVERS

Gathering Angelshark sightings from divers, fishers and other stakeholders is vital for all our science and conservation work – thank you everyone who takes part! The sightings map provides a quick an easy way to report your Angelshark sighting both in the Canary Islands and the rest of their range (East Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea). If you see a tagged Angelshark – please report the number and colour of the tag.

We use these data to identify key Angelshark habitats, understand Angelshark distribution and to answer basic ecological questions – we’ve written this up as a scientific paper and are planning other publications in the future.

CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT YOUR SIGHTING

Thank you to all the dive centers collaborating with us

FUNDERS

PARTNERS

2 – ADULT ANGELSHARK ECOLOGY, MOVEMENT AND DISTRIBUTION

Limited understanding of adult Angelshark habitat use, movement and site fidelity is a major factor preventing effective protection in the Canary Islands. We are working to understand Angelshark ecology through analysis of citizen science sightings, tagging and genetic analysis. Our aims of this research are to:

  • Determine the seasonal distribution, aggregation sites and breeding patterns of the Angelshark across the Canary Islands.
  • Assess the population abundance and structure in the Canary Islands and the rest of its range.
  • Identify residency and movement patterns within and between islands via a cost-effective tagging program and genetic research.

This information will be used to guide conservation measures and future management strategies.

Visual ID tag

Acoustic ID tag

VISUAL ID TAGGING


ACOUSTIC TRACKING IN LA GRACIOSA MARINE RESERVE


GENETICS


COUNT THE ANGELS


3 – IDENTIFY AND MONITOR POSSIBLE NURSERY AREAS

Our aim is to identify and study Angelshark nursery areas to secure protection of these important habitats. Our research includes investigating spatial distribution and habitat use of juvenile Angelsharks; population size and structure; reproductive behaviour; growth rates; and the impact of environmental variables.

Researchers, students and volunteers conduct regular surveys at these nursery areas to tag juvenile Angelsharks and re-capture any sharks that have been tagged previously. The recapture of juvenile sharks gives us important information on their biology in the first stages of their life. If you see a juvenile shark report it to the sightings map.

Las Teresitas in Tenerife is the very first confirmed Angelshark nursery area in the Canary Islands and where we focus a lot of research. It is a perfect laboratory thanks to the density of sharks and the great conditions of this beach to carry out our work. Find out more here.

We are also completing surveys across the archipelago to identify and investigate new Angelshark nursery grounds.

FUNDERS

4 – WORKING WITH THE FISHING COMMUNITY

Angelsharks are a protected species (Listed as “In danger of extinction” in the Spanish Endangered Species List) and targeted fishing for them is illegal. Sometimes Angelsharks are still accidentally caught by both recreational, charter boat and commercial fishers.

Working with fishing communities is essential for the conservation of Angelsharks. Together we have developed a best practice guide to safely release Angelsharks accidentally caught, so that they are the best condition possible when released.

Download the recreational best practice guide:

Download the commercial fisher best practice guide:

As well as following best practice guidance, fishers and charter boat clients have provided important information that makes an important contribution to our research. Check out results of 2019 questionnaires (English | Español).

Charter boats collaborating with us:

  • Tenerife: RodFather, Happy Hooker, White Tuna, Gavin Glen, Yate Sofia, Crested Wave, No Limit, Punta Umbria V, Tambo Fishing.
  • Gran Canaria: Blue Marlin, El Dorado, White Marlin, Fish On, New Felusi.
  • Fuerteventura: Big game Fising, Barracuda, Corralejo Charter, Albakora Cat, Yellowfin, Macaronesia fishing adventures, Fuerte Fishing, Albakora.
  • Lanzarote: Mizu Sport and Red Tuna.

FUNDERS

RESOURCES

  • Angelshark Action Plan for the Canary Islands (English | Español)
    Identifies the key steps needed to secure the future of Angelsharks in the Canary Islands
  • East Atlantic and Mediterranean Angel Shark Conservation Strategy (EnglishEspañol | Francais)
    Highlights research gaps and opportunities to improve protection of angel sharks across their range
  • Guidance Document for Juvenile Angelshark Habitat (English | Español)
  • Best Practice to Release Angelsharks if Accidentally Caught by Recreational Fishers (English | Español)
    Developed with recreational fishers to reduce Angelshark mortality after accidental capture.
  • Best Practice to Release Angelsharks if Accidentally Caught by Commercial Fishers (Español)
    Developed with commercial fishers to reduce Angelshark mortality after accidental capture.
  • Adult Angelshark Ecology Poster (English | Español)
    Find out how we study adult Angelsharks with tagging techniques
  • Juvenile Angelshark Ecology Poster (English | Español)
    Find out how we study Las Teresitas, the first nursery area discovered for Angelsharks in the Canary Islands
  • Angel Shark Project: Canary Islands Leaflet (English | Español)
    Information leaflet on Angel Shark Project: Canary Islands and how you can be involved
  • Results of sportfisher client questionnaires in the Canary Islands (English)
    The Angel Shark Project completes questionnaires with clients of sportfisher charter boats in the Canary Islands to evaluate impact of the fisher engagement work.
  • Recreational fisher poster (Español)
  • Results from the 2019 Count the Angels: Fuerteventura (English | Español)
  • Results from the 2019 sportfisher questionnaires (English | Español)

ASP:CI News and Quarterly Reports

Current Funders

CONTACT US



Photographs copyright Michael Sealey and Carlos Suarez, Oceanos de Fuego