The name Wobbegong comes from Australia where many of these species are found along the Great Barrier Reef. Wobbegong is aboriginal meaning “shaggy beard.”
Also called carpet shark, the Wobbegong Shark (Orectolobidae) is unlike other sharks. Most sharks spend their time constantly on the move to keep water flowing past their gills giving them the oxygen they need to survive. The Wobbegong lives on the sea floor and this is where it spends all its life.
Features and Size
Wobbegong sharks are very well camouflaged. They blend with their surroundings and lay in wait for prey fish to come close before striking at them. It’s easy to see why they’re called a carpet shark as their skin resembles the loud patterns of a casino carpet. This pattern helps it blend well to its surroundings. Another distinctive feature is the whiskers that hang off its mouth to attack prey fish.
Made up of 12 different species most of the Wobbegongs are no more than 1.25 feet/4.1 feet long. The banded wobbegong (Orectolobus maculatus) is the largest shark in the family reaching a length of 3 meters/9.9 feet long.
Man Eater Danger Scale
When it comes to humans they will attack people; but only if they are poked at, stepped on or otherwise antagonized. There is no chance of being killed by a Wobbegong Shark, though they can inflict a significant wound.
On the ‘Man Eater danger scale’, the Wobbegong rates a 3 (0 – no threat 10 – highest threat). The scale would be higher but as they’ll only attack if provoked the threat from them is rather minor.
The Wobbegong shark is found along the east coast of Australia from southern Queensland through to Western Australia, including Tasmania. It can be found in much of the western Pacific including Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and Japan.
The Wobbegong is found in shallow salt and brackish water that are less than 100 meters deep. They are found by reefs and rocks that provide shelter and where there’s an abundance of prey fish.
Orectolobus species of Wobbegong
:: Orectolobus floridus
:: Orectolobus halei
:: Orectolobus hutchinsi
:: Orectolobus japonicus
:: Orectolobus leptolineatus
:: Orectolobus maculatus
:: Orectolobus ornatus
:: Orectolobus parvimaculatus
:: Orectolobus reticulatus
:: Orectolobus wardi