Pacific Angel Shark
Squatina californica

Physical Description

  • Flattened body and broad pectoral, or side, fins that resemble a ray
  • Large mouth in front of head, instead of on bottomĀ 
  • Gray, brown and black mottled coloring to camouflage in the sand
  • Can reach five feet in length
  • Two small top fins at base of tail, no bottom fins

Range

  • From southern Alaska to Baja California, Mexico
  • Gulf of California, Mexico
  • From Ecuador to southern Chile

Habitat

  • Soft, sandy bottoms near kelp forests and rocky reefs
  • Depths of 0 to 330 feet

Diet

  • Small fish like croakers and halibut, squid, octopus, some small sharks, crustaceans

Predators

  • Great white sharks, larger sharks, northern elephant seals

Interesting Facts

  • Unlike many sharks, they do not need to swim to breathe. So they can lay in wait in the sand to ambush their prey.
  • They are suction feeders, and will swallow their prey whole
  • They are both overfished and caught in other fisheries. Angel sharks are one of the most at-risk groups of sharks on the planet.

Sources: Monterey Bay Aquarium; Oceana; Florida Museum

Photo: Weiwei Gao

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