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Welsh volunteers needed to help save rare shark

A new project aimed at saving one of the world’s rarest sharks launched in Wales today and local community groups are being asked to help.

Once abundant in Welsh waters, the Critically Endangered Angelshark is the focus of this pioneering new project that aims to safeguard this unique species.

‘The Angel Shark Project: Wales’, led by international conservation charity ZSL (Zoological Society of London) and Natural Resources Wales (NRW), will work with five coastal communities across Wales. Data gathered from community memories, historical research, fisher knowledge and citizen science surveys, will help build a better understanding and conservation plan for the species.

Joanna Barker, Marine and Freshwater Project Manager at ZSL said: “We have an exciting opportunity to understand and improve the status of Angelsharks in Wales, which is potentially one of the last strongholds for this amazing shark. Our approach of combining conservation and social science is a method that we hope will provide benefits to both the population of Angelsharks, but also to local communities we’re working with that rely on the ocean for their livelihood”.

Despite suffering widespread decline across the east Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean and Black Seas over the last century, Angelsharks have been increasingly reported off the Welsh coast, giving new hope for the future of the species.

Accidental captures of the shark show that Cardigan Bay in mid Wales could be an important area for the species, which can  grow up to around two and a half metres (around eight feet) in length.

Personal sightings and accidental captures of Angelsharks can be reported at the following link http://angelsharknetwork.com/#map. Further information on the project can be found here: www.angelsharknetwork.com/wales or email angelsharks@zsl.org if you would like to take part.

Picture credit: Angelshark – Michael Sealey

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