Joint Press Release- International Angel Shark Day 2024

Today, we celebrate the 24 species of angel sharks around the world, 3 of which are also found in Cyprus! Angel sharks are perhaps the most unique shark species in the world, and certainly the most “peculiar” in the Mediterranean. These flattened sharks, which resemble rays more than typical sharks, are among the most threatened shark groups worldwide, and in recent years systematic efforts have been made globally to prevent their extinction.

In this context, International Angel Shark Day has been established, celebrated every year on June 26, aiming to inform and raise awareness about these species and the efforts made for their protection. As unique predators, angel sharks can bury themselves in the sand and patiently wait for their unsuspecting meal. In Cyprus, they are also known as “Cats” because of the sensory organs on their snout, which resemble whiskers and help them detect prey and taste their food.

Our knowledge about angel sharks in Cyprus has significantly increased in recent years through organized collective actions, Citizen Science data, and the National Fisheries Data Collection Program co-funded by the European Union. Indeed, in 2021, the presence of all three species was confirmed in the area, making it one of the few areas in the Mediterranean where all three species coexist.

The scientific knowledge collected so far has been utilized in the framework of the Action Plan for the Protection of Angel Sharks in the Mediterranean, issued in 2019, and the Action Plan for the Protection of Angel Sharks in Cyprus, issued in 2021, aiming for the most effective protection of the 3 species in the Mediterranean and Cyprus respectively.

In 2024, another significant step was taken for their protection with the adoption of the Action Plan for the Protection of Angel Sharks in the Mediterranean within the framework of the Bonn Convention, to which Cyprus is a contracting party.

Now, Marine and Environmental Research Lab in collaboration with the Environmental Organization iSea, Enalia Physis Environmental Research Centre, The Shark Trust, and the Department of Fisheries and Marine Research of the Republic of Cyprus are collaborating on a series of actions and initiatives aimed at implementing the Action Plans for raising awareness about angel sharks, improving compliance with national legislation, and identifying significant areas and habitats for angel sharks in Cyprus.

To this end, we developed a joint press release for this special date. It can be found in Greek here