The Canary Islands, off the coast of Spain, are the last known stronghold of one of the world’s most critically endangered sharks. The angel shark, once prolific throughout Europe, is now extinct across most of its historical range. However, in the Canaries, a beautiful archipelago of seven volcanic islands in the Atlantic Ocean, the species continues to thrive. Local researchers have found, in addition to an apparently healthy adult population, a critical nursery site for the unusual-looking animals.
Las Teresitas beach is located only 15 minutes away from the capital, Santa Cruz, on Tenerife Island. This artificial beach, created in the 1970s with white sand from the Sahara, is very popular with tourists. It is also the largest known pupping area for the rarest shark species in Europe. During the day, beach-goers laze in the shallows and drink cocktails under umbrellas while the angel sharks lie buried in the sand. At night, scores of hungry little sharks emerge into water that is less than half a metre deep – and Eva Meyers and her team are ready to tag them.
Although they grow to be 2.5 metres long, angel sharks are notoriously difficult to spot. They are flat, perfectly camouflaged – and also rare. Eva aims to learn about one of the few remaining populations of these enigmatic creatures.