Family: Squatinidae – Angel Sharks
Common Name– Angel Sharks or Angelsharks
Status: IUCN Red List NOT EVALUATED
Average Size and Length: A male has been measured at 78.7 cm/ 2.6 feet and a female at 74.8 cm/ 2.5 feet.
Current Rare Mythical Sightings: Named in honor of the son of the first author, David Acero, who passed away on March 7, 2011.
Teeth and Jaw: The mouth is very wide and placed terminally. They have expendable necks and trap-like jaws that can rapidly snap upwards and hinge shut. They have long, needle-like teeth in the upper and in the lower jaws used for gripping.
Denticles: The mid-dorsal line lacks thorns or enlarged, sharp, pointed dermal denticles.
Demographic, Distribution, Habitat, Environment and Range: David’s angelshark can be found in the Caribbean on the northern coast of South America from Colombia to Suriname and is currently known from a depth between 328-492 feet.
Ram-Suction Index: They have an RSI more towards the suction end of the scale. They lay flat and still on the bottom, when the time comes, they lung at prey and suck it into their mouths with negative pressure.
Aesthetic Identification: David’s angelshark is greyish to brownish yellow in color. The male specimen recorded had dark spots and the female recorded had and abundance of whiteish colored spots.
Biology and Reproduction: The biology and reproduction of David’s angelshark is unknown, however they are presumably ovoviviparous.
Behavioral Traits, Sensing and Intelligence: David’s angelshark is lethargic by day and lies buried still in the mud or in the sand mud with only their eyes distended out, waiting to ambush prey.
David’s angelsharks’ have a unique way of breathing compared to most other benthic sharks and fish. They do not pump out water from the oropharyngeal cavity. Instead, they use gill flaps located on the sides of their body to pump out water during respiration. Doing so also allows them to be more unnoticeable and prevent detection from unwanted predators.
David’s Angelshark Recorded Attacks on Humans: David’s angelshark is not dangerous to humans unless provoked. Because of their powerful jaws and sharp teeth, they can inflict injury on anyone or anything that may pose a threat to them. There have been cases of Angel sharks biting divers that have tried to restrain them, approach too close to the head, corner them, or grab their tails.
(Acero, A.P., J.J. Tavera, R. Anguila and L. Hernández, 2016. “A new southern Caribbean species of angel shark (Chondrichthyes, Squaliformes, Squatinidae), including phylogeny, and tempo of diversification of american species”. Copeia 104(2):577-585).