We briefly talked about angel sharks in a previous post. The Squantina family deserves more than just one generalized post, however — after all, there are 23 species!
Up first, the Atlantic angel shark (Squantina dumeril) is also known as the “sand devil” or “monkfish.” They’re not monkfish, though; there’s a separate genus, Lophius, which is properly called “monkfish.”
These sharks can be found in the Atlantic Ocean, from New England’s Massachusetts all the way to the Florida Keys. They’re also found in the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and along northern South America. They are bottom dwellers (anywhere from 40-250 m/131-820 ft), loving their time under the sand or mud, waiting for their prey. Prey includes molluscs, crustaceans and a few fish that they catch with their sharp teeth. If not hiding from prey, they’re hiding from predators, which can include larger fish or mammals.
When not buried under the sand, these sharks have a flat, skate-like body. They have large spiracles behind their eyes and large, broadened pectoral fins. They are blue-gray in color, with white flecks on their dorsal side and a white underbelly, with some portions having a darker brown/red hue. They usually have a light red spot on their throat/tummy area.
These sharks are small, usually not getting larger than 1.2 m (4 ft) but some can reach up to 1.83 m (6 ft). They are viviparous with yolk-sac, with an average litter size of 16 pups, and usually give birth in the spring/summer in deep water.
The IUCN has listed the Atlantic angel shark as “Data Deficient.”
did you know these #flatsharks?
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TFUI Founder Melissa C. Marquez is author of all animal bios and "Behind the Fins" segments.
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