Wobbegong shark – Some of the most interesting and fascinating creatures found in ocean, sharks are actually of over 400 species and people only know a few of them. Only few people are aware of the existence of wobbegong shark.
They may have a funny a name, but they are quite real. Also, they may be with the fearsomeness of great white sharks, but they have some of the greatest characteristics up their sleeves.
Wobbegong shark belongs to twelve species of the carpet sharks from the Orectolobidae family. Commonly, they can be found in the tropical waters with shallow temperature of East Indian Ocean and Western part of Pacific Ocean.
The term “wobbegong” is believed to originate from the Australian aboriginal language that simply means “shaggy beard” which refers to the developments around their mouth of western Pacific.
Wobbegong Shark Characteristics
One of the interesting wobbegong shark facts is that these sharks are considered to be bottom-dwelling sharks, meaning they are spending most of their time in resting and hiding on the sea floor.
Also, their characteristics being bottom dwellers and of being well camouflaged are great advantages for them as they hide around rocks and any other places in spotting their potential prey. Wobbegong shark can be seen in the sandy parts of the coral reef where they find plenty of foods.
Most of the species of wobbegong shark have the extreme length of 5 feet (1.5 m) or lesser and the largest are the speckled wobbegong (Orectolobus maculatus) and the hooped wobbegong (O. halei) which can reach about 9.8 feet (3 m) in length.
Wobbegong shark is an ambush predator and can ideally strike at smaller fish that they are straying closer to their hiding place. Their camouflage is well-improved through the existence of their tiny weed-like hairsbreadth lobes that surround their jaw acting as sensory barbs.
Wobbegong Shark Feeding
Wobbegong shark species feed at night upon the invertebrates and benthic fish. During the day, specie like tasseled wobbegong shark is resting in sheltered areas, including caves under the ledges.
Their mouth is quite large and the wobbegong teeth are very strong to where they have been seen tremendously swallowing other sharks whole. Wobbegong shark can be fed on other fish sharing its caves.
Wobbegong Shark Reproduction
Wobbegong shark like tasseled wobbegong shark is considered to be ovoviviparous, therefore that their females’ eggs develop within their body. During the process, the young can get the nourishment in the wobbegong shark womb from the egg yolk. Pups are approximately about 7 to 8 inches long when born.
Wobbegong Shark Captivity
There are some cases for unstoppable selling of wobbegong shark in the aquarium and chooses to be wobbegong pet despite of the fact that they are not suitable for home aquaria because of their large size, especially the adult wobbegong shark.
The species of small tasseled wobbegong shark and ward’s wobbegong are the ideal sharks for enthusiastic aquarists due to their appropriate size and are lethargic where they can be housed within limited space.
On the hand, some of the aquarists prefer more active sharks than wobbegong pet because of limited activity. Wobbegong shark is quite nocturnal and because of their sluggish metabolism they do not need to be fed often compared to other shark.
Most of them are doing well on weekly two feedings while the underfed wobbegong sharks can easily be recognized through their visible atrophied dorsal musculature.
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Where to See Wobbegong Shark
Mostly, wobbegong shark are seen in the oceans of Pacific and Indian around Indonesia and Australia. They can be usually found in the shallow part water and mostly near the quite developed areas such as the urban beaches in the part of Western Australian coasts of Queensland & New South Wales.
Manly Beach, nearby Sydney is characterized with fairly huge population which a common spot for scuba diving making it possible to spot wobbegong shark.
When to See Wobbegong Shark
Wobbegong shark could be seen a year round although on their habitat’s cooler climates, but they can be most frequently spotted during warm months. They can be reliably found in similar areas dive afterward dive since they are popularly known to be bottom dwellers and highly territorial.
Also, wobbegong shark are primarily nocturnal, so they can be easily found during the day where they become less or more dominant exhibiting more activities when spotted during night dives.
Wobbegong Shark Human Interactions
Wobbegong shark are considerable not threatening to humans, but due to their ability to camouflage into their environment, combined with wobbegong sharp teeth that are sharp that can actually result to painful bite.
There are only few reported incidents wherein divers have been grabbed by wobbegongs by their tails with the attempt of pulling them from under of the rock shelf causing the shark to piece. Wobbegong shark teeth are small yet quite sharp, so their bite is severe though often not dangerous.
Actually, wobbegong sharks are those that are being eaten frequently by humans. Their meat is known to be sold in the name of “flake” and commonly used in producing Fish and Chips particularly in Australia.
Wobbegong Shark Endangered Status
There is a variation of species for the endangered status for wobbegong shark that is commonly fished in the regions they inhabit for commercial purposes. Most of the species are in Near Threatened range while some data are lacking in some.
So, if you have ever seen wobbegong shark, tell us where you saw it.
Top 10 Wobbegong Shark Facts
Wobbegong shark is considered to be one of the most amazing and extraordinary looking species of shark. Although they have been seen over 100 years ago, they are less people who know well about them. These sharks have branched and distinct lobes extending from head and with flattened appearance.
Wobbegong simply means “shaggy beard”
The word “wobbegong” might sound similar something out of Dr. Seuss book, but it is quite real word. Originally, it came from Australian Aborigine language or the natives of Australia which simply means “shaggy beard.” In Australia, people lovingly called wobbegong sharks as “wobbies.”
The reason behind why wobbegong sharks were called “shaggy” is due to their look having a beard. They have whiskers also known as barbels around nose and flap of skins that appears like fins around their mouths, eyes and on their head’s other sides.
The scientific name of the wobbegong shark family is Orectolobidae, from Greek words orektus, meaning “stretched out” and lobos, meaning “lobe.”
Wobbegong sharks are also popularly known as “carpet sharks”
Wobbegong shark is also called carpet shark because of their ability to be bottom dwellers which is relatively stays on the ocean floor. They have greenish or brownish skin covering in a unique bold markings pattern that effectively keep them camouflaged on the sandy areas and make them hide from larger fish and other marine mammals.
However, they are quite well-hidden sometimes where people tend to step on them resulting to painful bites.
There are known 12 species of wobbegong sharks
The family of wobbegong sharks includes spotted wobbegong, banded wobbegong, ornate wobbegong, floral banded wobbegong, dwarf spotted wobbegong, Indonesian wobbegong, Japanese wobbegong, tasseled wobbegong, cobbler wobbegong, northern wobbegong and western wobbegong.
The largest specie is the spotted wobbegong which can amazingly grow over 3 meters (10 feet) long or with a normal range of 1.8 meters to 2.4 meters (6 to 8 feet) long. Then, the smallest is the floral banded wobbegong reaching only 0.8 meters (2.5 feet) in length.
Wobbegong sharks are lazy
Wobbegong sharks are nocturnal, they are seen sleeping during the day while hunting for food at night. This is due to their poor eyesight and mostly relying into their barbels in sensing the environment. When they hunt, they are still barely moving and when they do, they remain sluggish.
Moreover, wobbegong sharks do not to keep on moving in order for them to breath similar to the great white shark does. These sharks are well-known being the obligate ram ventilators where they have to ventilate to ram water into their mouths while swimming and then goes out of their gills.
Therefore, they can simply breathe by just taking water within their mouths and pumping it into their gills by means of their cheeks’ strong muscle.
Wobbegong sharks can actually “walk”
During the more active days of, wobbegong sharks are moving across the ocean floor through their bottom fins making them look like walking. Also, they are also seen climbing out of water going from one tide pool to another. They can amazingly survive long trips by juts maintaining their grills wet.
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Wobble sharks hunt by means of ambush
Like most of the other sharks, wobbegong sharks are known to be the effective hunters. Yet, they are very lazy they wait for their pray to come closer to them and then make their attacks instead of actively searching for food or chasing after prey.
They use their fleshy lobes and barbels in luring their prey including smaller sharks, lobsters, bottom-dwelling fishes, crabs and octopuses and when these animals came closer enough, they attack them with a quick snap.
Although wobbegong sharks are swimming slowly, they can snap swiftly with just a blink of an eye. They swallow their small prey whole and when their prey are tool large, they hold it within using their strong jaw until they die and then seat them one chunk at a time.
Wobbegong sharks have strong jaws and sharp teeth
Wobbegong shark is characterized with powerful jaw and can open mouth wide in order to swallow prey effortlessly which is big as their size. And, when they bite, they do not release their prey or easily let them go.
Although wobbegong shark teeth are small, these are incredibly sharp and pointed and known in penetrating through the diving suits which can cause painful bites.
Although wobbegong sharks have been already bitten before and none of their population have ended dying, about a total of 28 unprovoked wobbegong attacks were recorded in the past 450 years. And, 4 of these recorded wobbegong shark attacks are being attributed to spotted wobbegong.
Wobbegong shark females give birth to pups
Since wobbegong sharks are sharks belonging to ovoviviparous, this simply means that the young can actually develop in female eggs inside the body of the mother and successfully being nourished by the egg yolk and not by the mother wobbegong shark’s food. After hatching, the young are continuing to be developed inside their mother’s body.
These type of process have a total gestation period of 10 up to 11 months and they will be born as live young called the pups. The young’s litter size may vary according to their species, coming from few as 12 up to many as 53.
And these pups are not able to receive any care from their mother at all, but they are sticking together in order for them to stay safe and secured while hunting for their food on their own.
Some of the wobbegong sharps can serve as pets.
There are some people who are quite interested to have a wobbegong shark pet. Wobbegong sharks are quite possible to be kept as pets. Although only the smaller species are ideal to be pets, this requires a tank with similar size to swimming pool.
People have to remember that these sharks are lazy and if they wanted a pet that will swim around, they are not perfect for them. But, the good thing is, they only need to be fed twice a week.
Wobbegong shark are currently not endangered
Out of 12 species of wobbegong sharks, only 4 of them have been assessed by IUNC such as banded wobbegong, spotted wobbegong, tasseled wobbegong and ornate wobbegong. And these species are currently classified as Near Threatened meaning, they still have stable large population.
Although their flesh is quite tasty and commonly used in making fish and chips and their skin are used in making leather, they are still considered not widely hunted and of limited commercial value.