A master of escaping notice in plain sight, the tasseled wobbegong is almost undetectable when resting quietly on the bottom. With its beard of fleshy tassels to obscure the shape of its head, pattern of dark and light spots to break up the shape of its body and enlarged, drape-like fins, this shark is an excellent ambush predator. The wobbegong lies motionless on the bottom, blending into the reef structure, until small fish or other prey move within striking distance, then quickly opens its mouth and sucks in the prey.
  • Size

    49 inches (125 cm)
  • Diet

    Bottom-dwelling fish and invertebrates
  • Range

    Western Pacific, including Eastern Indonesia, New Guinea, and Northern Australia. Commonly on the Great Barrier Reef
  • Habitat

    Near the ocean floor on the continental shelf and on offshore reefs

Physical Characteristics

Size

  • Maximum length of 49 inches (125 cm).

Body Composition

  • Head and body are flattened and the pectoral and pelvic fins are broad. Wide mouth; large crescent-shaped spiracle behind each eye.
  • A fringe of branching skin flaps runs continuously from the pectoral fins around the front of the head forming a lace-like beard below the mouth.

Color

  • Back and fins are a brown to beige color overlain with an intricate pattern of light and dark dots and rings. The ventral surface is a whitish tan.

 

Animal Fact

The name "wobbegong" is from the tasselled wobbegong is Australian aboriginal in origin, but its exact meaning is unknown. It is speculated that it may mean "living rock."

Diet / Feeding

Diet

  • Diet consists of bottom-dwelling fish and invertebrates.

Feeding

  • An ambush predator; lies motionless on the bottom blending into the reef structure until small fish or other prey move within striking distance, then quickly opens its mouth and suck in the prey.

Range / Habitat

Range

  • Occurs in the Western Pacific, including Eastern Indonesia, New Guinea, and Northern Australia. Commonly observed on the Great Barrier Reef.

Habitat

  • Found near the ocean floor on the continental shelf and on offshore reefs.

Reproduction & Growth

  • Ovoviviparous; fertilization of eggs occurs internally; young develop within the female and are born fully-formed.

Conservation Status

  • “Near Threatened” on the IUCN Red List.

Additional Information

  • Feeds primarily at night.
  • Master of escaping notice in plain sight.
  • Almost undetectable when resting quietly on the bottom.
  • Its flattened body and enlarged pectoral and pelvic fins drape over the rocky or coral substrate, barely adding to the vertical relief of the bottom.
  • The pattern of light and dark dots and rings break up the body so that it blends imperceptibly with the surrounding underwater terrain.
  • The 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.
  • 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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