Critically endangered Angelshark spotted in UK waters off Welsh coast for first time

Rare footage of critically endangered Angelshark recorded in Wales

Incredible footage has been captured of one of the world's rarest sharks off the coast of Wales.

Angelsharks are sharks that have unusually flat bodies and fins, resembling rays. Although generally passive they have been known to bite divers that approach them.

Experts have said that the shark seen in the footage is a juvenile, and this means that the species is breeding and using Welsh waters to have their offspring.

The species was once considered copious in the Atlantic Ocean but has been classified as critically endangered since 2010.

The Angelshark swimming underwater just off the Welsh coast. Credit: Angel Shark Project

Marine biologist and photographer Jake Davies, who captured the amazing footage of the critically endangered angel shark in North Cardigan Bay, said it is the first time one has been caught on camera in UK waters.

He said: "I've always kept an eye out for angel sharks during dives, having worked to better understand the species for the last four years."

"I couldn't believe it when I saw the angel shark, and what was really exciting was that it was a juvenile, just 30cm in length - providing further evidence that the species is giving birth in this area," he added.

Marine biologis, Jake Davies, captured the amazing footage of the critically endangered angel shark in North Cardigan Bay. Credit: Angel Shark Project

Mr Davies said: "It was incredible to watch and film it swimming, burying into the sand and then using its camouflage to ambush prey.

"This footage is far beyond what we thought would be possible to capture in Wales."

Numbers have declined dramatically over the past 50 years, but a collaborative Angel Shark Project - between Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) - is working with local communities and fishers to gather more research on the fish.

Joanna Barker of ZSL said: "This footage supports our hypothesis that Angelsharks give birth in waters around Wales.

"The size (30cm) and white markings on the dorsal fin edges show the Angelshark was born this year, confirming we have an active breeding population in Wales.

"This new footage is extremely useful to inform our conservation efforts for this species, especially as Wales hosts one of the last Angelshark populations in the northern most part of their range."