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Hunting The Angel Shark, One of the World's Most Elusive Sharks with Advanced Technology - eDNA

Hunting one of the world's most elusive sharks has become a pursuit of great intrigue and promise, thanks to advanced technology, eDNA. The enigmatic angel shark (Squatina squatina) is renowned for its elusive nature, often hiding on the ocean floor and blending seamlessly with its surroundings, making it exceedingly difficult to spot.

The angel shark's ability to remain hidden in the underwater world can be attributed to its nocturnal habits, exceptional camouflage skills, and preference for staying buried in the sand, rendering it a master of stealth.

An Angel Shark on the sea bed
Japanese angelshark (Squatina japonica) | RYO SATO from Hamamatsu, Shizuoka, Japan

With the advent of advanced technology, eDNA, hunting this shark has become more straightforward. Nicholas Tomasi, a dedicated project manager from the Natural Marine Park of Cap Corse and Agriate, embarked on a high-tech odyssey in the Mediterranean Sea. He lowered an ingenious device into the azure waters, a contraption designed to capture a minute fraction of seawater teeming with minuscule particles laden with DNA traces from various denizens of the deep.

Should an angel shark be lurking nearby, this remarkable device held the power to unveil its presence.

This revolutionary advanced technology, known as environmental DNA (eDNA), is transforming the very essence of scientific inquiry. By harnessing the genetic footprints animals leave behind in their environment, eDNA offers unprecedented insights into Earth's rich tapestry of life. From the frigid expanses of the Arctic to the lush depths of the Amazon, eDNA is reshaping the landscape of conservation. It empowers scientists to detect invasive species before they wreak havoc on the world's ecosystems, and it enables the tracking of animal migrations driven by climate change without the need for extensive human intervention.

In the relentless quest to safeguard our planet's oceans and the remarkable creatures that inhabit them, environmental DNA technology stands as a formidable ally. With its ability to unveil hidden species, provide crucial insights into their behaviours, and support robust conservation efforts, eDNA is becoming an indispensable tool in the protection of sharks and the fragile marine ecosystems they call home.

A very elusive angel shark
Angelshark (Squatina squatina) off Chico Beach, Lanzarote, Canary Islands |

As the mysteries of the deep are unveiled one strand of DNA at a time, we are offered a glimpse into a future where the enigmatic becomes accessible, and the vulnerable find refuge in the sanctuary of science.


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