Wales coastal project to find rare angel shark evidence

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SharkImage source, Carlos Suarez, Oceanos de Fuego
Image caption,
The angel shark has been spotted off the coast in Wales in recent years

Scientists and fishermen are teaming up to try to find evidence of one of the world's rarest sharks off the Welsh coast.

The angel shark, once widespread across Europe, is now listed as critically endangered, with waters around the Canary Islands the only place they are frequently seen.

But there have been increasing sightings off the Welsh coast.

Fishermen are being asked to report all accidental catches of the shark.

They are also being given advice by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) scientists on how to safely handle and release them.

Angel sharks can grow up to about 2.5m (8ft) in length. They are also known as monk or monkfish by fishermen in the region.

They are not threatening to humans, living mainly on sand or mud at the bottom of the sea and preying on small fish and molluscs.

Ben Wray, marine biodiversity ecologist at NRW, said: "We know very little about the ecology of the shark in Welsh waters at the moment - the population could be present all year round, or only for part of the year.

"The fact that commercial fishermen and anglers along the coast of Wales are helping us with this research is really important.

"We hope that the data we gather will help us build a much better picture of the situation and help our work to conserve these amazing creatures."