Physical Description

  • Shark with a flattened body and broad pectoral (side) fins that resemble a ray.
  • Have a large mouth on front of head, instead of on bottom.
  • Gray, brown and black mottled coloring to camouflage in the sand.
  • They can reach five feet in length.
  • Have two small dorsal (top) fins at base of tail, no bottom fins.


  • From southern Alaska to Baja California, Mexico.
  • Gulf of California, Mexico.
  • From Ecuador to southern Chile.


  • Prefer soft, sandy bottoms near kelp forests and rocky reefs.
  • Found at depths of 0 to 330 feet.


  • Pacific angel sharks are slow growing and do not reach sexual maturity until age 13.
  • Reproduction is via internal fertilization.
  • Embryos receive nutrition from a yolk sac inside the mother and females bear live young.
  • Newborn Pacific angel sharks are self-sufficient predators and do not receive any more parental care.


  • Small fish like croakers and halibut, squid, octopus, some small sharks, crustaceans.
  • Uses large mouth to create suction while feeding.


  • Great white sharks, larger sharks, northern elephant seals.

Interesting Facts

  • Unlike many sharks, they do not need to swim to breathe. Thus, they can lay in wait in the sand to ambush their prey.
  • They are suction feeders, and will swallow their prey whole.
  • They are both overfished and caught as bycatch in other fisheries. Angel sharks are one of the most at-risk groups of sharks on the planet.

Sources: Monterey Bay Aquarium; Oceana; Florida Museum

Photo: Weiwei Gao