Fauna & Flora’s long-term partner in Turkey, Akdeniz Koruma Derneği (AKD), has been involved in the dramatic rescue and release of a critically endangered angel shark that was accidentally caught in a local fisher’s nets.
The shark was caught in Gökova Bay, a marine protected area on Turkey’s picturesque Turquoise Coast, by Atıf Ölmez, a small-scale fisher from Akbük. Atıf was participating in a fishing trip alongside the AKD team, who were in the process of securing footage for a film project focused on invasive species. The crew was fishing for non-native lionfish, a species that AKD is trying to control through an innovative enterprise. The angel shark was caught as a non-target species and it was a huge surprise – in both senses – when it was hauled aboard. The critically endangered fish was quickly freed from the net and released back into the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean.
Atıf’s daughter, Ayşenur Ölmez, who became Turkey’s first woman marine ranger when she joined AKD in July 2022, is also a local fisher. Fortunately, she was also in her father’s boat during the filming of the fishing trip, and was able to help him heave the mighty angel shark back into the sanctuary of the Mediterranean.