A critically endangered species of shark is believed to be breeding in Welsh waters.
A young angel shark was spotted taking a dip in North Cardigan Bay this week – the first time one has ever been seen in UK waters.
One of the rarest sharks on the planet, the only spot they are regularly sighted is near the Canary Islands.
Experts claim the ‘incredible’ new footage proves the species is actively breeding and using waters in Wales to give birth.
Jake Davies, a photographer and marine biologist, said: ‘I’ve always kept an eye out for angel sharks during dives, having worked to better understand the species for the last four years.
‘I couldn’t believe it when I saw the angel shark, and what was really exciting was that it was a juvenile, just 30cm in length – providing further evidence that the species is giving birth in this area.
‘It was incredible to watch and film it swimming, burying into the sand and then using its camouflage to ambush prey.
‘This footage is far beyond what we thought would be possible to capture in Wales.’
Just 4% of angel shark sightings are juveniles so the encounter is ‘extremely important’, marine ecologist Ben Wray added.
The vertebrates can grow to be 1.8 metres in length and 80kg in weight and usually prey on bony fish, skates and crustaceans.
They are listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened species following a dramatic decline in numbers over the last 50 years.
Angel sharks pose no threat to humans and it is an offence to target or disturb them in Wales.
The Angel Shark Project, which works with local communities and fishers to gather records, has celebrated the new footage.
Co-founder Joanna Barker said: ‘This footage supports our hypothesis that angel sharks give birth in waters around Wales.
‘The size (30cm) and white markings on the dorsal fin edges show the angel shark was born this year, confirming we have an active breeding population in Wales.
‘This new footage is extremely useful to inform our conservation efforts for this species, especially as Wales hosts one of the last angel shark populations in the northern most part of their range.’
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