October 9, 2011

Send me an Angel

If I talk about sharks everybody imagine big, torpedo shaped fast predators with huge teeth. Some people maybe think about the large plankton feeding whale sharks or basking sharks. But only the minority knows about a quite flat shark which lay on the bottom covered in sand during daytime. The angel shark is a strange fish, and I'm one of the lucky divers who saw them in their natural habitat. If you find the hiding angel shark be careful and you can even touch it. These guys aren't too nervous, but as every predator, it can be dangerous if you attack or disturb it aggressively. Its swimming looks like wriggling.

The angel shark encounters were really special for me but most of the divers never meet any. Although it was common in Europe a few decades ago now it's officially critically endangered. I dived many places in the Mediterranean and haven't seen any but I know a European country where plenty of angel sharks live. This is a well kept secret of the Canary Islands which belong to Spain (and geographically to Africa): the eastern islands are famous about their angel sharks. For example in Lanzarote I dived in the night with a baby angel shark. But especially in Gran Canaria the northern dive spots like Sardina del Norte or Caleta Baja are recommended for those who want to see these unusual sharks. They live in the shallow, sandy bottom and it seems they only wait for the divers. First you see an angel shark shaped silhouette in the sand and when you swim closer you can see it's the shark itself. You can touch carefully its fins, see the eyes and try to make some photos. When it's covered the photos will be everything but spectacular. These animals looks much better on the moving pictures so I embed a film which I took a few years ago.

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