As dangerous as life on land can be, we humans can always be thankful we don’t live in the ocean. Watch as this monstrous predator – likely an angel shark – snaps forth from its sandy camouflage to devour its prey.
Shared by Lydia Raley’s popular fishing account on Twitter, the video is quickly going viral. The footage features a massive, unique predatory fish going from unseen to what just happened. But what is this behemoth, exactly?
While a wildlife tech, I am far from a marine biologist. The first feature that sticks out to me, however, are the shark-like fins on the fish as it emerges from the sand. Judging by the ray-like features and its presence on the seafloor, I’d wager we’re either looking at a species of angel shark or guitarfish.
Guitarfish are incredible creatures. Sharks, skates, and rays are all related, with the guitarfish being an incredible missing-link-like species of ray. They share many attributes of both sharks and rays, as you can see in the video below. Some species of sharks heavily resemble guitarfish, too, showing how closely they are related. One such family are the angel sharks.
With a bit of research, the large, gaping mouth and overall features mean this could be either a Pacific angel shark or bowmouth guitarfish being fed by a biologist, possibly in captivity. If any of our fellow Outsiders happen to have a positive ID, send us a quick holler!
Regardless, the detail-less video makes for fascinating viewing. The predatory fish lies in waiting underneath the sand; perfectly camouflaged. After a brief moment, she strikes, engulfing the bait fish from a feeder pole with lightning speed:
Huge Angel Shark or Bowmouth Guitarfish?
According to Oceana.org, the guitarfish side of the shark & ray family are classified as Rhinobatidae. They are known for elongated bodies with flattened heads. In addition, their pectoral appendages are ray-like wings instead of shark-like fins. Guitarfish call tropical, subtropical, and warm temperate waters home worldwide.
On the other side of the family, Oceana notes that Pacific angel sharks are “one of 23 angel sharks, noted for their flattened appearance that makes them resemble skates or rays. These flat sharks have broad pectoral fins and relatively large mouths, which they use to create intense negative pressure (suction) when feeding.”
“Though they resemble rays, angel sharks (and other flat sharks) can be easily distinguished from rays by examination of the pectoral fins,” the organization continues. “In skates and rays, the pectoral fins are always attached to the head. In angel sharks and other flat sharks, that is never the case.”
Judging by these descriptors, it looks like we’ve got ourselves an incredible bout of Pacific angel shark footage. What a fish!