Project title: The spatial ecology of the Critically Endangered Angelshark, Squatina squatina, and implications for conservation
Summary: The angel shark family (Squatinidae) is one of the most threatened chondrichthyan families globally, and Squatina squatina (Angelshark) is listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Once widespread across the northeast Atlantic and the Mediterranean and Black Seas, overexploitation and coastal habitat degradation have driven drastic range contractions. Angelsharks are now limited to a few small, fragmented populations. Due to their low numbers, there remains a distinct lack of data on the life history, distribution, movement ecology and habitat requirements of Angelsharks, and further research is essential and urgent to guide policy and support conservation decision making.
This project will address critical knowledge gaps in the spatial and behavioural ecology of adult Angelsharks in the Canary Islands, a unique stronghold for this species. Acoustic telemetry will be utilised in order to provide detailed, long-term and round-the-clock ecological data from La Graciosa Marine Reserve. Spatial network analyses will be used to investigate site fidelity, space-use, habitat preference and distribution drivers. Crucially, the data and findings from this project will be used to inform effective protection of Angelsharks, with the aim of securing the future of the species in the Canary Islands and further afield.