Pacific Angel Shark
Scientific name........Squatina Californica
Common names........Monkfish, Sand Devil
Angelsharks are unusual, flattened sharks that are often mistaken
for rays. They use to be called Monkfish because the strange shape
of their heads resembles the hood on a monk's cloak. Have simple,
conical nasal barbels with spatulate tips, that are weakly fringed
anterior nasal flaps, no triangular lobes on lateral head folds.
Concave between large eyes, and a conspicuous spiracle. Thorns are
prominent in young, small or absent in adults. Fairly broad, long,
high pectoral fins.
They grow up to a maximum of about 5 feet long. Males and females
mature about 3 feet long.
The Pacific Angelsharks have a protruding, trap-like jaws and
numerous spiky teeth.
They are generally a brown-gray coloration with scattered brown
flecks of varying size. White edged pectoral and pelvic fins. Pale
dorsal fins with dark blotches at base.
Because of their color pattern, it helps it to better blend in
substrate, which makes it easier to ambush fish and squid that swim
by or may hunt and feed on sleeping fish at night. If a prey passes
within a strike zone up to 6 inches from the shark's head it will
elicit an attack, and if it is small enough, the angel shark almost
always succeeds in capturing it.
This shark is active at night. Lies buried in flat sand or mud by
day to ambush prey.
Pacific angel sharks can be found in Eastern Pacific, from southeast
Alaska, USA, to Baja California, Mexico, and from Ecuador to
southern Chile. Occasionally, divers may encounter a Pacific angel
shark swimming over sandy bottoms near kelp beds at a depth of 10
feet. These sharks occur along temperate coasts and have been seen
near rocky reefs hidden just under the sand or mud, from shallow
waters to more than 4,265 feet deep.
This shark is ovoviviparous, producing eggs that are retained
within her body. These are about 8 to 13 pups in each litter.
Does not swim long distances.
Pacific Angelsharks can become aggressive if harassed, a diver or
angler who foolishly grabs the tail of an angelshark soon discovers
how quickly the shark can bite and how painful the bite can be.
Once common, now reduced due to heavy fishing pressure.