Recent species found in the Gulf of Mexico

The Mexican angelshark (Squatina mexicana) is a species of shark belonging to the family Squatinidae found in the Gulf of Mexico. It was described by Castro-Aguirre, Espinoza-Pérez & Huidobro-Campos in 2007.


Family: Squatinidae – Angel Sharks

Genus: Squatina 

Species: mexicana


Phylum– Chordata

Class– Chondrichthyles


Infraclass– Euselachii

Superorder– Selachimorpha


Common NameAngel Sharks or Angelsharks

Family– Squatinidae

Common Name– Angel Sharks or Angelsharks




Average Size and Length: The maximum recorded length of the Mexican angelshark is 88 cm/ 2.9 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. Both sides of the upper jaw have 10 triangular, erect, and non-edge-serrated teeth, arranged in 2 functional series. The lower jaw has 9-10 smooth triangular teeth. The 5 frontal teeth are straight, the rest are slightly oblique and arranged in 2 functional series.

Head: The nasal lobes are simple. The anterior is thin and longer. The medium lobe is quadrangular and almost lacking lobes.

Denticles: The Mexican angelshark has no thorns or enlarged denticles on the mean dorsal line. The dermal denticles have 3 keels extended posteriorly, its base about 4 times its length.

Demographic, Distribution, Habitat, Environment and Range: The Mexican angelshark can be found in the western Atlantic in the Gulf of Mexico between 233-591 feet. They are demersal and prefer tropical climates.

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 body of the Mexican angelshark is gray. There are no ocelli, but have 2 very evident black spots on the anterior edge of pectoral fins. The rest of the body is black with small scattered dark spots located irregularly. The dorsal fins are similar in size, shape and area, their base about 1.75 times their height.

Biology and Reproduction: The biology and reproduction of the Mexican angelshark is poorly known. They are presumably ovoviviparous.

Behavioral Traits, Sensing and Intelligence: The Mexican 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.

Mexican 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.

Mexican Angelshark Future and Conservation: They are not evaluated. There is not enough data at thus point in time.

Mexican Angelshark Recorded Attacks on Humans: Mexican 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.

Castro-Aguirre, J.L., H.S. Espinosa Pérez and L. Huidobro Campos, 2006. Dos nuevas especies del género Squatina (Chondrichthyes: Squatinidae) del Golfo de México. Rev. Biol. Trop. (Int. J. Trop. Biol.) [2006] 54 (3):1031-1040. (Ref. 74686)