Angel Shark Project: Greece

Angel sharks are flat-bodied, moderately sized, coastal sharks with broad pectoral fins, and dorsally located eyes and spiracles.

Throughout the globe, there are 23 species of angel sharks. Their distribution ranges from temperate to tropical marine waters and most of these species inhabit areas in the continental shelf and upper slopes down to 500 m. Unfortunately, due to angel sharks’ life characteristics, i.e. their slow growth, their low reproductive rate as well as their demersal nature which makes them susceptible to large-mesh gillnets, coupled with the intensification of fisheries, they have become the third most threatened family of elasmobranchs in the world, with many species in urgent need of conservation

Three species of angel shark were once widespread throughout the Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea; the Sawback Angelshark (Squatina aculeata), the Smoothback Angelshark (Squatina oculata), the Angelshark (Squatina squatina). The Mediterranean populations of all these species are listed as Critically Endangered in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, a fact that means they are all facing an extremely high risk of extinction. Sawback Angelsharks, Smoothback Angelsharks, and Angelsharks have acquired this status because of a steep decline in their populations and local extinctions, as a result of their historical and current overexploitation by demersal fisheries and especially trawl fishing

The recent discovery of several records of angel sharks in the Cyclades and Dodecanese Islands indicated that these areas are potentially highly important for the three species. In light of this situation, the Mediterranean Angel Sharks: SubRegional Action Plan (SubRAP) GSAs 22/23 (the Aegean Sea and Crete) was developed in line with the Mediterranean Angel Sharks: Regional Action Plan, aiming to advance angel shark conservation in Greece.

Angel Shark Project: Greece

In this context the Angel Shark Project: Greece was created; this is a collaborative project led by iSea and supported by ULPGC, ZFMK, ZSL, and Shark Trust with an overall aim to investigate the importance of the Greek side of the Aegean Sea for all three angel shark species present in the Mediterranean (Squatina aculeata, Squatina oculata, Squatina squatina)

The project’s objectives are:

Objective 1: Build stakeholder capacity to identify and report angel sharks;

Objective 2: Identify angel shark hotspots within Greece; 

Objective 3: Raise public knowledge of angel sharks in Greek waters;

Objective 4: Reduce incidental captures of angel sharks and promote best practice handling to safely release angel sharks if accidentally caught;

Objective 5: Strengthen the national legal framework in Greece for the protection of angel sharks; and

Objective 6: Deliver relevant priority actions of Mediterranean Angel Sharks: SubRegional Action Plan (SubRAP) GSAs 22/23 (the Aegean Sea and Crete).

Projects implemented with the support of the Angel Shark Project Greece

Materials about Angel Sharks