A group of Libyan scientists and activists have launched the "Angel Shark Project in Libya" aimed at highlighting the importance of Libya as a hot-spot for the endangered angel sharks in the Mediterranean.
The project is led by the Marine Biology website in Libya with the partnership of several international stakeholders, including the "Koenig Museum" in Germany, the Zoological Society of London, the Spanish University of Las Palmas, the iSea and, the Shark trust organization, with the support of "Save Our Seas" Foundation.
Marine biologist Sarah Al-Mabruk, founder of the "Marine Biology in Libya" website explained to the Libya Observer that she and her team aim to spread awareness and promote reporting of angel shark catch and identification in Libya, to help better understand the most three critically endangered angel shark species living in the Libyan waters.
The initiative started online and found success on the Facebook platform, which prompted the organizers to take a further step and reach out to international organizations concerned with protecting sea life.
The team managed to prove themselves to the Swiss-based "Save Our Seas" Foundation dedicated to protecting life in oceans, especially sharks and rays.
Professor Sarah explains that they will proceed along three parallel paths. The first track is to survey the main fish markets along Libya’s coast and to make fishers aware of angel sharks and their status in Libyan waters.
As for the second and third tracks, the team will launch a broad awareness campaign on all social media platforms and gather information to create a database.
According to Professor Al-Mabruk, the Libyan coasts in the Gulf of Sidra, Tocra, and Zuwara may be one of the last hot-spots for angel sharks in the Mediterranean.
She pointed out that the "World Wide Fund for Nature" indicated in its latest report that Libya is ranked first among the Mediterranean countries in fishing cartilaginous fish.
"However, while achievements are significant, we continue to face challenges," said Sarah, pointing out to the impact of the global Coronavirus pandemic and the recent conflict in the country on their work, as well as trying to convince a fisherman to unhooked a shark he caught and return it to the water!
The Marine Biology team on the ground is currently working from Al-Bayda, Shahat, Tobruk, Misrata, and Tripoli, says Al-Mabruk.
She indicated that the next step is to prepare a scientific paper before moving on to an advanced "Tag" stage that requires installing a device on the shark to track and collect information about these species, and this says Al-Mabruk demands coordination of efforts at the official capacities and among the general public.