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The spotted wobbegong is a nocturnal ambush predator that uses its spotted pattern, beard of fleshy tassels and elongated fins to blend in perfectly with its surroundings. During the day, this shark appears to favor specific caves to rest in. These caves are often shared with small schooling fishes.
  • Size

    10.5 feet (3.2 m)
  • Diet

    Bottom invertebrates and bony fishes
  • Range

    Indian Ocean, Southern and Western Australia, Japan and the South China Sea
  • Habitat

    Near the bottom on coral and rocky reefs, under piers, and on sandy bottoms

Physical Characteristics

Size

  • Spotted wobbegong can reach a maximum length of about 10.5 feet (3.2 m).

Body Composition

  • Spotted wobbegong shark has a distinctive body shape, typical of wobbegong. Its head and body are very flattened and the pectoral and pelvic fins are broad. It has a wide mouth and there is a large crescent-shaped spiracle behind each eye.
  • A few branching skin flaps run continuously from the pectoral fins around the front of the head forming a lace-like beard below the mouth.
  • The species possess a spiracle, which allows it to breathe while remaining motionless on the bottom.

Color

  • The body and fins display a somber variegated pattern featuring obscure dark saddles on the back and densely covered with pale ring-shaped markings. There is a dark triangular mark between the eyes.

 

Animal Fact

The spotted wobbegong possess a spiracle, which allows it to breathe while remaining motionless on the bottom

Diet / Feeding

Diet

  • Preys on bottom invertebrates and bony fishes.

Feeding

  • A nocturnal feeder.

Range / Habitat

Range

  • Spotted wobbegong is a bottom-dwelling shark whose range includes the eastern Indian Ocean, Southern and Western Australia, Japan and the South China Sea.

Habitat

  • Found in warm waters on the continental shelf from intertidal areas to depths of about 360 feet (110 m).
  • This species is commonly found on or near the bottom on coral and rocky reefs, under piers, and on sandy bottoms. It has been observed in water barely deep enough to cover it.

Reproduction & Growth

Reproduction

  • It is ovoviviparous, i.e., fertilization of eggs occurs internally and the young develop within the female and are born fully formed.

Growth

  • Females produce up to 37 pups per litter.

Conservation Status

  • “Near Threatened” on the IUCN Red List.

Additional Information

  • Spotted wobbegong is a master of escaping notice in plain sight. Resting quietly on the bottom, this species is almost undetectable. Its flattened body, enlarged pectoral and pelvic fins drape over the rocky or coral substrate, barely adding to the vertical relief of the bottom. The shark’s variegated brownish-grey markings and pale ring-like spots break up the body into irregular shapes that blend imperceptibly with the surrounding underwater terrain. Even the eyes, which would ordinarily be easily detectable, are hooded and surrounded by eye-shaped markings that make them difficult to identify. A beard of fleshy tassels further obscures the outline of the shark’s head, making it very hard to tell where the animal stops and the bottom begins.
  • This wobbegong appears to favor specific caves to rest in during the day. These caves are often shared with small schooling fishes.
  • It is ovoviviparous, i.e., fertilization of eggs occurs internally and the young develop within the female and are born fully formed.
  • Females produce up to 37 pups per litter.
  • Its flesh is sometimes eaten and its skin is sometimes utilized for leather.
  • It is of minor commercial importance.
  • The species will bite if stepped on or provoked.
  • The name “wobbegong” is Australian aboriginal in origin, but its exact meaning is unknown. It is speculated that it may mean “living rock.”

Sources

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