If you are planning to take a dip in Welsh, waters looking out for baby angels.
According to a release from Zoological Society London (ZSL), a juvenile angel shark was photographed underwater in the U.K. for the first time. Photographer and marine biologist, Jake Davies, got the honor of capturing the footage of the rare shark. Davies filmed and photographed the animal in North Cardigan Bay off the Welsh coast.
“I’ve always kept an eye out for angel sharks during dives, having worked to better understand the species for the last four years. I couldn’t believe it when I saw the angel shark, and what was really exciting was that it was a juvenile, just 30cm in length — providing further evidence that the species is giving birth in this area,” Davies, a coordinator for the Angel Shark Project: Wales, said in a statement.
“It was incredible to watch and film it swimming, burying into the sand, and then using its camouflage to ambush prey. This footage is far beyond what we thought would be possible to capture in Wales,” he added.
As Davies mentioned, news that a young angel shark was filmed in the waters near Wales has researchers thinking that the elusive species uses Welsh waters to give birth.
“This footage supports our hypothesis that angel sharks give birth in waters around Wales. The size (30cm) and white markings on the dorsal fin edges show the angel shark was born this year, confirming we have an active breeding population in Wales,” Joanna Barker, a senior project manager at ZSL and cofounder of the Angel Shark Project, said of Davies find, adding “This new footage is extremely useful to inform our conservation efforts for this species, especially as Wales hosts one of the last angel shark populations in the northernmost part of their range.”
Angel sharks are listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and ZSL started Angel Shark Project: Wales together to “work with local communities and fishers to gather angel shark records, alongside carrying out research to better understand the ecology of the species in Wales,” per ZSL’s release. The effort uses this information to help protect the species from further decline. The Welsh Government also protects Angel sharks through the Wildlife and Countryside Act and Environment (Wales) Act.
For Angel Shark Project: Wales, the new footage and photos of the juvenile angel shark are seen as an exciting opening to learning more about this mysterious shark and the best ways to protect it.
“Little is known about the status, ecology, or location of important habitats for Angelsharks in Wales. Only 4% of angel shark records gathered by Angel Shark Project: Wales to date are of juveniles, so this footage is extremely important. It builds our understanding of angel shark ecology, including that they use both sand and mixed habitats and that the juveniles prey on gobies. We will use this evidence to help plan future research and discover more about this rare species in Wales,” Ben Wray, a marine ecologist and project manager at NRW, said.
Those in Wales that happen upon an angel shark in the ocean are asked to give the animal space and report the sighting.
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