Angel Shark Project Ireland

Angel Shark Project: Ireland is led by the Irish Elasmobranch Group and hopes help safeguard this species for generations to come with the help of fishers, local communities and passionate individuals

What Are Angel sharks?

Angel sharks are a species of flat shark which live on the seabed buried in the sand and have been recorded to grow up to 2.4 meters. They belong to the Angel shark family (Squatinidae) which is ranked as the second most endangered group of elasmobranchs (sharks, skates and rays) in the world.

Angel sharks are most often encountered in shallow coastal waters but have also been encountered in deeper waters.
The species that can be found in Ireland is the Squatina squatina species and locally they are often commonly known as Monkfish, a name which also refers to a species of bony fish; the Angler fish (Lophius piscatorius)

Figure 1: Angelshark (Squatina squatina) Source: Inland Fisheries Ireland
Figure 2: Monkfish (Lophius Piscatorius) by New York Public Library is licensed under CC-CC0 1.0

Angelshark biology and ecology

The flattened body of this shark allows it to camouflage into the substrate whereby it can ambush any unsuspecting prey above. In this way the species has been documented to feed on flat fish, crustaceans, and molluscs. 

What are the threats to Angelsharks?

This group of elasmobranchs are especially vulnerable to be caught as bycatch in benthic and bottom fisheries due to their bottom dwelling lifestyle. The impact this has on the population numbers is then confounded by their slow sexual maturity and low fecundity rate (produces few offspring). 

This combination has led to the stark population declines in this flat shark genus as whole, not only here in Ireland but all across their range leading to the species being listed as Critically Endangered and on the edge of extinction.

Figure 3: Angel Shark (Squatina squatina)
Figure 4: Angel shark in the sand

Check out at to for more information about the major threats as well the conservation projects for the angel shark all across their range.

Angelsharks in Ireland- Need your help!

Families, fishers, friends and individuals from all over Ireland are being asked to help better understand this species, through the discovery of old records or the reporting of new sightings. 
Angel Shark Squatina squatina
Get Involved!

The team are aiming with the help of the local communities to identify formally important areas for Angelsharks across Ireland and compare this with the more current records. This will help gather vital information about Angelshark ecology and their life history. With the input of local communities the team aim to develop a community led action plan for the Angelshark

If you would like to get involved or if you have a sighting to record, click here  or email us and we will get back to you as quickly as possible. The project is a collaborative project with other project teams across the Angel shark range, the Irish project is being led by the Irish Elasmobranch Group and supported by SCF, ZSL, ULPGC, NRW and is a part of the Angel Shark Conservation Network

Record a Sighting

If you have any past or present records of an angel shark encounter, please click on the interactive map link to record your sighting and help develop the knowledge we have of the species around the country.

Visit the Angel Shark Sightings Map

AnGelShark Project ireland

Aim of the Project:

To work closely with fishers and communities to gather both current and historical Angelshark records, vital to help safeguard this species in Ireland.

goal 1 – All ireland

Raise awareness of the Angelshark and to collect and gather historical and current records of Angelsharks from all around Ireland.

Head of Angel Shark. Mouth of the Angel Shark to close. Squatina squatina

Goal 2: Project Tralee

Tralee bay was once considered a hotspot for Angelsharks in Ireland and is today one of the few locations where they may still be rarely encountered.  

The ASP: Ireland team hopes focus on this important habitat and previous stronghold for this species with the goal to gain insight into the species biology and ecology. 


  1. To raise awareness and stewardship for the flagship species of the Angelshark
  2. To collect records both past and present of encounters around Ireland
  3. To gain a better understanding of Angelshark life history
  4. Jointly develop a community led species recovery action plan with local shareholders 

We are incredibly thankful to Shark Conservation fund for the initial funding in which to launch this project.

Fenit Lighthouse on Little Samphire Island in Tralee Bay, Co. Kerry, Ireland. The Brandon Mountain Range and Brandon Point visible in the background.

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Get in touch

If you are interested in chatting to one of the team about Angelsharks then we would love to hear from you. If you leave your preferred contact method in the form below and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Activities so far.

Angelshark Dissection event:

In 2022 an Angelshark event was held in the veterinary school of University College Dublin in collaboration with Inland Fisheries Ireland and supported by the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA), if you would like to read more about this event

Fisher interviews:

Fishers have an integral understanding of the marine environment and they are vital element to this project. If you would like to get in touch with us then please click Contact Us

Partners and collaborators

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