Wednesday 25 January 2012

Angel Shark

Image: Philippe Guillaume via Flickr
Sometimes it's good to be a land animal. Especially a reasonably sizeable one. Take the beach for example. We can go there and play in the sand, build our castles and frolic under the Sun in near total safety. Sure you might get sunburnt or find grains of sand in your hair for days to come, but you probably won't get eaten. I mean, imagine if you were just walking along the seaside and a massive patch of sand reared up, its rapacious mouth ablaze with hunger as it gobbled you up. That would be horrible!

Well then. Spare a thought for the little fish that dwell beyond the lapping waves. For here is where the Angel Shark lurks.

Angel Sharks look like scarcely more than a pile of sand. Not even a big pile, because they're flattened like no other shark and have large pectoral fins such that they look much more like a ray. They also have a spotted colouration for camouflage and will even bury themselves in the sand just to make sure. At this point they are really difficult to see, even though most of the 20 or so species reach about 1.5 m (5 ft) in length and a few even more.

Image: Wikipedia
At this point they pretty much just relax. They can remain motionless for days, an apparent devotee to the art of idleness. Of course, a genus of sharks with representatives across the tropical and temperate world can't really be doing nothing at all! Especially when some Angel Sharks are known to be very selective of their resting place, preferring areas where the sandy floor meets the reef. These are busy areas where fish come and go between foraging for food in the open and seeking refuge among rocks.

No. The Angle Shark is waiting. Hidden in plain view, waiting.

When a fish or squid wanders by, the Angel Shark is finally roused to action. The front half of the body suddenly bends upward, jaws open and extend forward, prey is sucked in and needle-like teeth ensure a strong grip on slippery customers. It all happens with incredible speed, the sluggish Angel Shark brutally revealing her deepest passions.

It's not long before before surviving fish learn to avoid the area. The Angel Shark must now seek out new hunting grounds, merge into the terrain and... wait.

Dear Reader Chloƫ Langley asked if Angel Sharks are as angelic as Sea Angels. The answer appears to be yes! They're both monstrous and the Angel Shark is clearly all shark!

Image: Nordictiger via Flickr
Apparently, there's an Angel Shark here! Can you see the tail on the top right? They're not known for aggression, so divers are usually safe if they swim by without interfering with them. Phew!


Crunchy said...

Sure we don't have invisible sharks on land, but you know what we do have? Trapdoor Spiders! Are you telling me that's a good trade-off? At least they're a lot smaller than the sharks...

Joseph JG said...

Giant Trapdoor Spiders! Oh man. I may never look at manhole covers the same way again!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the article! I really like these "angels" probably because they are similar to the ray fish. They look all angelic and relaxed but when you disturb them, they seem to get pretty angry.
I think they try to eat the fish as quickly as possible so that nobody can notice and they can maintain their angelic appearance.

Joseph JG said...

You're welcome! Indeed, they look so sluggish, it's quite shocking to see the incredible speed they can put up when they want to.