Also called the monkfish, the angel shark has a body that is unusually flat. It looks like a large ray and has large pectoral fins. It has greenish-brown to reddish or gray skin that has small black and white patches scattered all over. While adults appear plainer, the young sharks may have markings that are net-like and blotches that are large and dark. Near the nostrils, the angel shark has projections that resemble flickers. It uses them for feeling and tasting. The dorsal fin has a darker leading edge while the rear fin is lighter. Its eyes are large and round and contain pupils that are vertically slit. This shark has gills on both sides which it uses to breath in water. It measures up to 96 inches in length and weighs up to 180 lbs. Males are mostly smaller in comparison to the females. It is a fish belonging to the family squatinidae.
Angel sharks feed on flatfishes, mollusks, crustaceans, and skates among others. It spends the day sleeping under the sand or mud from where it spots its prey and is predominantly active at night. It is found in Northern Africa and Europe and prefers to live on or near the bottom of the sea close to the shores below 492 feet in what are referred to as sub-tidal or intertidal zones. It also lives in areas with rocks, kelps, and microalgae. It migrates towards the north during the summer making it a seasonally migratory marine animal. The angel shark is ovoviviparous, meaning it reproduces by means of eggs which are fertilized and then hatch within the body of the female. The female gives birth to nine to 20 young after a gestation period of ten months. At birth, the pups measure an average of ten inches in length. Females attain sexual maturity at eight years of age, and they reach sexual maturity when about 13 years old. They can live up to 35 years of age.
The angel shark is listed as critically endangered by the IUCN. The species is threatened by several factors. Most of its native area of occupation is affected by increased fishing activities in the areas near the sea bed. They are also caught in bottom long lines and trammel nets, and they are also suffer from habitat degradation and disturbance by humans due to increased tourism activities. The angel shark population has been decreasing significantly throughout most of its range. The species is listed on the Convention for Protection of the Marine Environment of the Northeast Atlantic Priority List of Threatened and Endangered Species. The possession of angel sharks was made illegal in all European Union waters in 2010. It is also prohibited to remove angel shark fins on board any vessel. Also, the entire Squatina genus is legally protected in all Balearic Islands marine reserves.
Copyright Notice: This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Squatina squatina".
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