One of the rarest sharks in the world, the angelic shark, was discovered by fishermen off the coast of Wales – a promising sign of the life of the critically endangered creature.
The "flat" sharks that usually swim on the ocean floor have recently been reported from the Bay of Cardigan, the Bristol Canal and near Hollyhead. As the angel shark population continues to decline dramatically, researchers have decided to explore.
Last year, the ZSL and Natural Resources Wales (NRW) launched the Angels Shark: Wales project, encouraging people to contact them if they notice the sea creature. On Thursday, groups asked residents to share photos and memories of endangered species during their first Angelshark History Roadshow.
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"Angel sharks are important to the marine environment because they are the largest predator and are listed as the world's fifth most evolutionary and globally threatened shark, a separate branch of the tree of life," ZSL explains on its website that the Welsh Coast can to be an important home for the species.
"If we lose angelic shark, we lose a really important line of evolutionary history that we can not get from other sharks."
Angel sharks were common in the Atlantic and Mediterranean, but the habitat, pollution and overfishing contributed to his death, says ZSL. Scientists hope that recent observations will help provide clues about the behavior of species and habitat, and help save the mysterious sharks from extinction.
"If we lose the angelic shark, we lose a really important line of evolutionary history that we can not get from other shark species," said Joanna Barker, a marine biologist working for ZSL.
Barker has been studying the sharks for some time, especially around the Canary Islands, but now begins to dive into their history in the Welsh waters. With the latest observations, she is curious about where the sharks currently call at home and whether there are separate populations.
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"What we really want to try and understand is what numbers we are talking about and where their important habitats are, because there may be some really critical areas for angelic sharks in Wales," Barker explained.
To further research on rare sharks, Barker said researchers will take swabs of their skin during the dives planned for later this year.
Until then, marine experts are hoping to get even more information about angler sharks from locals – using their pictures and stories to track the movements of species off the coast of Wales.