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13. Smoothback Angelshark

Squatina oculata

About

The smoothback angelshark is the smallest of the angel shark species and lives in the temperate waters of the Mediterranean Sea and Eastern Atlantic Ocean.

Very little information is available on this species. Its range, which is similar to the other EDGE angel shark species, has reduced considerably over the past 50 years. The smoothback angelshark is a benthic species, spending the majority of its time submerged in sediment on the sea floor.

The smoothback angelshark was once an important predator, feeding on a variety of fish and crustaceans. The species has suffered severe declines across all of its range, mainly due to increased fishing pressure in the region over the last 100 years. Habitat degradation may also be having a negative impact on this species.

Three species of Squatina (S.aculeata, S.oculata, S.squatina) are protected in the Mediterranean in two ways: within six marine reserves around the Balearic Islands and under Annex II of the Barcelona Convention, where fishing for these species is forbidden, so they must be released if they were captured.

  • Order: Squaliformes
  • Family: Squatinidae
  • Population: Unknown
  • Trend: decreasing
  • Size: Up to 1.6m (?)
  • Depth Range (m): 5-500m

EDGE Score

EDGE Score: 6.20 (?)
ED Score: 29.94 (?)
GE / IUCN Red List (?)
Not Evaluated Data Deficient Least Concern Near Threatened Vulnerable Endangered Critically Endangered Extinct in the Wild Extinct

Distribution

This species was historically encountered over large areas of the Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea, but is now only occasionally spotted off the coast of West Africa and in the Eastern and Central Mediterranean.

Habitat and Ecology

The smoothback angelshark inhabits inshore waters and the continental shelf. Information on its biology and ecology is extremely scarce, although it is known that reproduction is by aplacental viviparity: embryos develop inside eggs, which are retained within the mothers body until they are ready to hatch, and the mother gives birth to live young. There is no placental connection and the unborn young are nourished by egg yolk, although the mothers’ body does provide gas exchange. It is thought that this species gives birth between February and April in the Mediterranean. They feed on small fish and crustaceans.

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