The Angel Shark Family

Members of the Angel Shark family, or Squatinidae, are odd looking sharks and really resemble rays more than the 'typical' shark.

Australian Angel shark

The Angel Shark family consists of one genus and 20 species.

  • Angelshark
  • African Angelshark
  • Angular Angelshark
  • Argentine Angelshark
  • Australian Angelshark
  • Chilean Angelshark
  • Clouded Angelshark
  • Eastern Angelshark
  • Hidden Angelshark
  • Indonesian Angelshark
  • Japanese Angelshark
  • Ocellated Angelshark
  • Ornate Angelshark
  • Pacific Angelshark
  • Sand Devil
  • Sawback Angelshark
  • Smoothback Angelshark
  • Squatina caillieti
  • Taiwan Angelshark
  • Western Angelshark

In 1555 Guillaume Rondelet, a French physician and naturalist, gave these sharks the name Monkfish due to their apparent resemblance to monks. I'll have to have a good look at one next time I pass a monastery because I can't quite see it myself.


  • General body shape - The front of this shark's body is flattened and more ray or skate-like, but the tail still looks like that of other sharks. Most species in this family grow to about 1.5m.

  • Eyes - The eyes sit on top of the head and have spiracle situated just behind them.

  • Teeth - These are long and needle-like and are set in jaws that the shark is able to extend. They hunt by ambush. They bury themselves in the sand and leap out at unsuspecting prey, snapping their jaws closed like a trap.

  • Gills - These sharks have five pairs of gill slits which are situated on their underside.

  • Fins - Both the pectoral and the pelvic fins are large and flat. They sit out at the side of the body helping to give that flattened appearance. They have two dorsal fins, set well back on the body and an unusual caudal fin in that the lower lobe is larger than the upper. There is no anal fin present.

This shark family is not considered dangerous though they will, understandably, defend themselves if harassed. They have sharp teeth and powerful jaws, so approach with caution or, better still, observe from a distance.

Many of them have beautiful markings and are very well camouflaged against the sea bed, so please do be very careful when diving or snorkelling in warmer shallow waters.

Little is known about many of these sharks. They are ovoviviparous and may have from as few as 2 to as many as 25 pups per litter, depending on the species.

They're bottom dwellers and like shallow temperate to tropical seas.

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Angel Sark



Squatina squatina

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