Our Angel Shark Project

In the Mediterranean Sea

  • Almost 1/2 (34 of 72) of shark and ray species were threatened in 1980;
  • This increased to over 3/5 (61%, 44) by 2003;
  • And further to nearly 2/3 (65%, 47) in 2015 (Walls & Dulvy, 2021);
  • Sharks continue to decline by 0.4% per year on average in the Mediterranean.

This fast and steep decline in mainly from fisheries, and continues to get worse worse.

Effective fisheries management is needed now more than ever to help rebuild critical
populations of sharks and rays. But before management plans can be designed, we need to
learn a little more about our species, where they are found and how they are using their
habitats.

Türkiye sees 90% decline in shark population in past half century

Here are the latest IUCN Red List of Threatened Species statuses for elasmobranches:

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species statuses for elasmobranches

Angel sharks are one of the three most endangered shark and ray families now globally (along with sawfish and guitarfish). They have suffered tremendous reduction of their natural distribution in the Mediterranean and are found only very rarely in most other Mediterranean countries.

Since these are flat sharks, they get caught very easily in bottom nets and trawls. Thankfully, the government prohibited their retention and sale in 2018.

Some shark and rays lay their eggs inside special cases you may find at the seashore. If you find eggcases, please return them to the water if they are not empty, then report the eggcases at www.eggcase.org:

Here is a poster we made to teach you what sharks and rays are protected in Turkish waters:

Angel Shark species in Türkiye

We are very lucky in Turkey that we still have angel sharks still in our seas.

With this knowledge, comes a huge responsibility to try to rebuild these populations so that they are not lost completely.

You can use this poster to identify the eggcases:

Shark and ray egg cases

We have three species of angel sharks in Turkish waters. To properly identify the species, we have prepared this poster for you:

 

Action for angel sharks

First we need to gather all possible knowledge on these species so that we can help them better!

For records, we need the date, location (city or GPS), length of shark (from tip of nose to tip of tail), depth, type of fishing or sighting (scuba, snorkel, seashore).

Sightings supported by photographs and video are particularly valuable. We are especially  interested in learning about births and habitats of angel sharks or guitarfish in Turkey.

To safely handle angelsharks: Always use two hands to support angel sharks when returning them to the sea, never put your hand in the gills, and release them as gently as possible and close to the water as soon as possible after they are caught.

 

Please send us photos or videos of any catches or underwater sightings!

 

How to send data?

Photos or videos and details directly via Whatsapp

Send by email: merseamed@gmail.com

Send to Aylin Ulman via Facebook.

Send to Dr. Aylin Ulman via Instagram

Please join our Facebook Shark and ray group to send all shark and ray records there of every species.

This data is used purely for science and conservation. We may share this data with other Mediterranean shark scientists to learn about how different species are using the Mediterranean, and where we can try to help save and rebuild critical populations of endangered species.

Records can be kept confidential on request. Reporting/photographing incidental catch, where the angel shark is promptly released, does not breach national legislation. All records are valuable, and we thank you for helping us.

Please contact the Project Team if you would like copies of posters or have information to submit.

How data can be used for policy

In 2023, we used our collection of shark and ray data to support the application of an IUCN ISRA (Important Shark and Ray Area)!

ISRAs are “discrete, three-dimensional portions of habitat, important for one or more shark species, that are delineated and have the potential to be managed for conservation”.

Our evidence supported ISRA is the Southeastern Aegean Sea, that is 2719 km 2 in size, from Fethiye to Datca in Turkiye and including Rhodes in Greece! This was a very positive collaboration with Sharktrust UK, ISea Greece and Mugla Sitca Kocman University. The criteria to classify an ISRA needed to be based on threatened species, with proof that they are using the area for special purposes: such as feeding, reproduction or resting or migrating through it.The ISRA Criteria capture important aspects of shark biology, ecology and population structure and to encompass multiple aspects of species vulnerability, distribution, abundance, and key life cycle activities. To read more about the ISRA process, click here: https://sharkrayareas.org/about-isras/#mission

Summary for SE Aegean Sea ISRA

Southeastern Aegean Sea is located between Greece and Türkiye. On the Greek side, it includes Northwest Rhodes Island and its small islets, the strait of Rhodos, and continues south to Aphantou. On the Turkish side, the area extends from Oludeniz Bay in Fethiye, to Datça Peninsula. The area is characterised by diverse coastal and benthic habitats, including a subtropical open sea environment and bays, sandy to muddy substrates, rocky shores, islets, and rivers that flow into the bays. The area overlaps with five Natura 2000 sites, two Key Biodiversity Areas, and an Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Area. Within this area there are: threatened species (e.g., Smoothback Angelshark Squatina oculata); reproductive areas (Smoothback Angelshark); and undefined aggregations (Sandbar Shark Carcharhinus plumbeus).

To read the fact sheet click here.

Your data will help strengthen our knowledge and hence our impact for making positive change and recovery plans for endangered species and their habitats!

This project is in collaboration with Shark Trust www.sharktrust.org and funded by Shark Conservation Fund.