The Atlantic angel shark is brownish- to bluish-gray on the back and whitish on the belly, and it has a mid-dorsal row of denticles. The large mouth is terminal, and each tooth has a broad base with a long, pointed central cusp. The pectoral fins are not attached to the body at the rear, and Atlantic angels swim without making much use of them.
Growing to 5 feet long, Atlantic angels will bite when captured and can inflict vicious wounds. In the western Atlantic, they range from southern New England to the Gulf of Mexico, also occurring around Jamaica, Nicaragua, and Venezuela; they are rarer off southern Florida and in the Gulf of Mexico. They are common during the summer along the mid-Atlantic states.