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ANDY MURCH ELASMO GEEK

 

WHAT IS ELASMODIVER?

Not just a huge collection of Shark Pictures: Elasmodiver.com contains images of sharks, skates, rays, and a few chimaera's from around the world. Elasmodiver began as a simple web based shark field guide to help divers find the best places to encounter the different species of sharks and rays that live in shallow water but it has slowly evolved into a much larger project containing information on all aspects of shark diving and shark photography.

There are now more than 10,000 shark pictures  and sections on shark evolution, biology, and conservation. There is a large library of reviewed shark books, a constantly updated shark taxonomy page, a monster list of shark links, and deeper in the site there are numerous articles and stories about shark encounters. Elasmodiver is now so difficult to check for updates, that new information and pictures are listed on an Elasmodiver Updates Page that can be accessed here:

WHAT'S NEW?

Shark picture - green sawfish

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Pacific Angel Shark

 

 

Photographs copyright Andy Murch. All rights reserved.

 

View all available Pacific Angel Shark Pictures in the Elasmodiver Shark Picture Database

 

Common Names: Pacific Angel Shark, California Angel Shark, Angelshark.

Latin Name: Squatina californica  

Family: Squatinidae

 

Other colloquial and foreign names for Squatina californica:

加州扁鯊 China Mandarin Chinese

加州扁鲨 China Mandarin Chinese

ангел морской Russian Russian

ангел калифорнийский морской Russian Russian

Ange de mer du Pacifique France French

Angelote Mexico Spanish

Angelote Peru Spanish

Californisk havengel Norway Norwegian

Kalifornianmerienkeli Finland Finnish

Kalifornisk havsängel Sweden Swedish

Pacific Angel shark UK English

Pacific angelshark UK English

Pacifische zee-engel Netherlands Dutch

Pazifischer Meerengel Germany German

Pez ángel del Pacífico Spain Spanish

Raszpla kalifornijska Poland Polish

Stillehavshavengel Denmark Danish

Tiburón angel Mexico Spanish

Identification:

Light brown to grey flattened body with scattered small dark spots. Larger spots form irregular ocelli. Light margin may be visible around edge of dorsum. Terminal mouth with paired barbells and one pair of lightly fringed nasal skin flaps.

 

Size: At birth 25-26cm. At maturity 100cm. Maximum recorded size 152cm.

 

Habitat: 

Often found in shallow bays on sand or mud bottoms. Regularly around rocks sometimes near kelp. Depth range from 1-200m but usually shallow down to 100m.

 

Abundance and distribution:

Eastern Pacific. From Alaska to the Sea of Cortez and Ecuador to southern Chile. The southern population may be a different as yet undescribed species. Some researchers suggest that due to their  very small home ranges there may even be distinct sub-species within the overall northern populations.

 

Diet:

Angel Sharks are ambush predators that lay in wait partially buried in the sand. Their diet includes bass, croaker, flatfish, mackerel, and sardines. In early winter when the squid spawning begins they feed primarily on squid which die after spawning and therefore easy to catch.

 

Behavior:

Angel sharks choose their resting sites based on their success at ambush hunting in a particular spot. Once selected they use their pectoral fins to dust away enough sand to create a depression that they can settle into. If hunting is good they will remain in the same spot for extended periods.

Falls prey to Great White Sharks and Sevengill Sharks.

 

Reproduction:

Ovoviviparous with no yolk sac placenta. Recorded litter size from 1-13. Little is known about Angel Shark mating behavior.

 

Photographs:

Tajiguas Beach, California.

 

Similar species:

Although certain sub-populations of Pacific Angel Sharks may be distinct species, as yet none have been scientifically described and no other Angel Sharks share Pacific Angel Shark's range.

 

Reaction to divers:

Remains completely motionless relying on camouflage. Reluctant to move even when a diver exposes it completely by fanning the sand away from its back. Will bite anything including a divers hand or foot if it strays too close to the angel sharks mouth (within about 15cm).

 

Diving logistics:

Pacific Angel Sharks were becoming more and more difficult to find until the gill net fishery was banned during the mid 90s. Now populations are rebounding and a resident community exists at Tajiguas Beach near Santa Barbara, CA. Enter from the beach and swim along the sand outside of the kelp forest looking for small dorsal fins poking up or the vague outline of the whole animal as it lays in wait.

 

Many thanks to Ron Clough of the California Shark and Ray Count for showing me this dive site.

 

References and further reading:  

Sharks, Rays, and Chimaeras of California. David A. Ebert. U of C Press.

Sharks of the World. Leonard Compagno.

Sharks and Rays - Elasmobranch Guide of the World. Ralf M. Hennemann. IKAN.

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