Leading Journal of the Irish & UK Fishing Industries

The Angels of Ireland need your help!

The Angel Shark is a species by many names, Monkfish, Fiddle-fish, Devilfish, Banjofish, Iasc Brathair and even Bafoon! Our native Angel Shark (Squatina squatina) is a flattened ground dwelling shark that catches its prey of small fish and crab by burrowing in the sandy/muddy bottom and surprising them. Indeed, when viewed from above it is easy to see where this shark gets its many names!

Ireland once had good a population of Angel sharks and they could particularly be found in Tralee Bay, Clew Bay, around the Shannon estuary and at one stage maybe all around the coast.

However, today it is not a shark many will be lucky or privileged enough to ever see, as what once was a common species gliding across the seabed from the East Atlantic to the Mediterranean is now a critically endangered shark across its entire range and is now more endangered than the Giant Panda and is very much in need of our help.

Sharks and rays have a very slow reproductive cycle, meaning they take a long time before they become mature and often only producing very few young once mature. This means that their population numbers can, and have been, accidentally pushed to the edge of survival. This has unfortunately happened to this very distinctive looking shark, as well as some of its relatives such as the Flapper Skate and Undulate Ray.

So, we need your help! We would love to hear about any stories, records or memories where you have come across any Angel Sharks, Undulate Rays or White, Blue and Flapper skates or if you know anyone who might have please do get in contact with us at irishelasmobranchgroup@gmail.com.

All the records collected help us better understand the ecology and behaviour of these species around the Irish coast, both seasonally and over the years. If you would like to learn more about the Angel shark or some of the projects around the world that are working to save them then please do visit the angelsharkproject.com website.

Recently, in a very exciting turn the Welsh Angel Shark Project team have successfully managed to satellite tag an Angel shark! Please see the advice on the poster below of what to do if you encounter this tagged or indeed any Angel Shark! But do return them alive back to the sea, with or without a tag, photograph and let us know.