Did you know that there are sharks who looks like rays? One of them is the (Mediterranean) angel shark.

Photo of an angelshark swimming just above the bottom
Squatina squatina tenerife2” by Philippe Guillaumeet moi. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons.

Living on sandy plains to a depth of 150 m (490 ft) in the northeastern Atlantic Ocean, angel sharks have few hiding places. That’s why they are well-adapted to camouflage themselves, lying motionless on the bottom, typically partially buried in the sand. Sometimes these ambush predators are waiting this way for weeks at a time, other times they go swimming to hunt for prey at night. They measure up to 2.4 m (7.9 ft) long and reproduce ovoviviparous. That means, embryos develop inside eggs that remain in the mother’s body until they are ready to hatch. There is no placental connection and the unborn young are nourished by egg yolk. 7 to 25 young are born every other year.

The angel shark is generally unaggressive towards humans, though it can deliver a severe bite if disturbed. Due to bottom trawling and bottom longlines, the once abundant Mediterranean angel sharks are now extinct in the North Sea and most of the northern Mediterranean and critically endangered everywhere else. Their meat is considered a delicacy under the name “monkfish”.

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