Sharks you may find in the Mediterranean Sea… if you are lucky… III

We end this series of three posts on the Mediterranean Sea sharks with three curious species, the thresher shark, the bull shark and the angel shark. These 18 species of shark that have shown in this series are nothing but an example of the 90 species that swim in the Mediterranean Sea… and if we do not fight to preserve them, they will pass away due to the greed of commercial fishing and coastal pollution.

11. Thresher shark (Alopias superciliosus)

Thresher shark
Thresher shark (Alopias superciliosus). Pic byRafn Ingi Finnsson

The thresher shark is a curious shark with a tail fin of the same length as the rest of its body that unfortunately is currently among the most vulnerable shark species. The thresher shark is a pelagic shark that can be found in depths of up to 500 meters in waters between the tropics. It is also possible to see this beautiful shark in coastal waters and can be found in the Mediterranean Sea. Another notable physical characteristic of the thresher shark are its big eyes that help them find prey in low light conditions.

This shark has a curious way to get its food: when it detects a school of fish it approaches them very fast and hits the small fish with its tail fin to stun them and thus be able to capture them more easily. No wonder that in some areas of Latin America it is known as the «whipping shark«.

Thresher shark using its tail fin to hunt

The thresher shark is on the red list of threatened species by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature). It is a shark that poses no danger to man, both because its size (around 3-4 meters including the long tail fin) and by the shape of its mouth, but also because it is a shy and elusive fish. 

12. Sand tiger shark (Carcharias taurus)

Sand tiger shark (Carcharias taurus)
Sand tiger shark (Carcharias taurus). Pic by Alex Mustard

The sand tiger shark inhabits coastal sandy bottoms up to 20 meters deep and in the Mediterranean Sea we can find it (if you are very very lucky) all over the entire Spanish coast and northern Africa. The Sand tiger shark is a quiet and slow moving shark, features that have made it, along with their tolerance for captivity, the shark with more presence in aquariums all over the world.

This shark, which can reach 3.5 meters in length and weighing 160 kilos, has a frightening face, covered with rows of long, sharp teeth used to hunt rays, other sharks, moray eels or squid. Despite this frightening aspect they are not particularly dangerous to humans although there are documented attacks on freedivers, but not in the Mediterranean Sea.

This shark is also included in the IUCN Red List of endangered species. Its threats include fishing nets (due to shallow habitat) and the selling of its liver oil for cosmetics, especially in Asia.

13. Angel shark (Squatina dumeril)

Angel shark (Squatina dumeril)
Angel shark (Squatina dumeril). Pic by Philippe Guillaume

Angel sharks can be confused with rays both because of their behavior and because of their flattened body as well as their way of getting around the bottom, but we’re talking about a species of elasmobranchs.

This animal can be easily found in Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic (it is also very common in the Canary Islands and Azores shores), always inhabiting the bottom to a maximum of 100 meters deep. It is also easy to find them in shallow waters, around 5-7 meters. The angel shark is an expert hunter who has a very developed camouflage technique: its skin mimics the sandy bottom where they live being able to pass completely unnoticed, buried. Thus, during the night, when different fish and crustaceans go out hunting unaware of their presence, they end up being swallowed by the gaping mouth on a quick bite.

Angel sharks in the Canary Islands

This species has been included in the IUCN Red List as critically endangered.

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