Family: Squatinidae – Angel Sharks
Common Name– Angel Sharks or Angelsharks
Species– guggenheim (previously occulta)
Average Size and Length: They are born around 33 cm/ 1 foot. Mature adults are around 110 cm/ 3.6 feet and the maximum recorded is 130 cm/ 4.3 feet.
Teeth and Jaw: They have expendable necks and trap-like jaws that can rapidly snap upwards and hinge shut. They have long, but small, needle-like teeth in the upper and in the lower jaws used for gripping.
Head: The nasal barbels have cylindrical bases, they are expanded slightly with spatulate, un-fringed tips. The nasal flaps are barely fringed. In between the eyes is a concave area. The eye-spiracle space is less than 1.5 times the eye length.
Denticles: There are short, stout thorns in symmetrical groups on the snout and between the eyes. There are a pair between the spiracles too. There is no medial dorsal row.
Demographic, Distribution, Habitat, Environment and Range: The Hidden angelshark can be found in the southwest Atlantic from Brazil to Uruguay. They can be found on the continental shelf between 115- 35-377 feet, but typically stay between 115-305 feet. They are considered marine demersal and prefer subtropical climates.
Diet: They eat fish and shrimp.
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: The Hidden angelshark is uniform dark tan with many small yellow-looking spots. There are no dark edges. There are larger blackish marks. There are a few ocelli on the pectoral fins. The body is flat and shaped like a skate or a ray with a wing-like look. The pectoral fins are large, angular and high. The leading edge is nearly straight. The posterior edge is concave.
Biology and Reproduction: The reproduction of the Hidden angelshark is presumably ovoviviparous, having 6-8 pups per litter in the spring after an 11-month gestation period.
Behavioral Traits, Sensing and Intelligence: The Hidden angelshark lies semi-buried in the sand or on the muddy bottom waiting and ready to ambush prey. They can remain still on the bottom for extremely long and extended periods of time. Research suggest their behavior changes at night, and they are nocturnally active.
Hidden 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.
Hidden Angelshark Recorded Attacks on Humans: Hidden angelsharks aren’t 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.