Acoustic Tracking in La Graciosa Marine Reserve

Limited understanding of adult Angelshark habitat use, movement and site fidelity is a major factor preventing effective species protection in the Canary Islands. To overcome this, the Angel Shark Project in collaboration with David Jacoby (Research Fellow at Institute of Zoology, UK) have designed the first acoustic tagging study in La Graciosa Marine Reserve, Canary Islands, which will be used to understand fine-scale habitat use and residency of adult Angelsharks.

The project has two main stages:

  1. Due to the sensitivities of catching Angelsharks for tagging purposes we have developed an in situ external electronic tag attachment methodology for Angelsharks that will allow us to tag resting individuals whilst diving. It was important to us to complete this work in the Angelshark’s habitat to cause minimal disturbance and stress to each fish. Following a multi-stakeholder workshop, a prototype acoustic tag attachment and applicator were developed by our engineering partners at Institute IRNAS. Each of the three prototypes developed underwent rigorous testing in December 2017, March 2018 and May 2018, in order to develop an acoustic tag attachment and underwater tagging methodology with minimal impact on Angelshark ecology. The acoustic transmitter will be attached to the base of the first dorsal fin; the attachment is lightweight and camouflaged. Find out more about tag development here.
  2. The first tagging expedition was completed in July 2018 in the La Graciosa Marine Reserve with our partners Buceo La Graciosa. During the first 10 day expedition, we fitted nine sharks with Vemco acoustic tags. Keep an eye on social media for more information!

If you see an Angelshark with an acoustic tag, please report it with the tag number to

This project is being delivered by the Angel Shark Project team (ULPGC, ZFMK, ZSL), IRNAS, Arribada Initiative and Centre for Environment Fisheries and Aquaculture Science. It has received permits from the Canary Island and Spanish governments.

Funding has kindly been provided by Oceanario de Lisboa, National Geographic, Ocean Tracking Network, Save Our Seas Foundation