Spotted Wobbegong Shark

(Orectolobus maculatus)

wobbegong shark

The Spotted Wobbegong is one of seven species in the order of Orectolobidae. The body of the spotted wobbegong is very distinctive, it is flattened, highly patterned, well camouflaged sharks. The dermal flaps along the sided of a broad, flat head, long barbels, short mouth in front of eyes and almost at the very front of the short snout, and a protruding jaw that aids in the capture of prey. It has nasal barbels and six to ten dermal lobes around the mouth and on the sides of the head. The first spineless dorsal fin starts over the pelvic base, and the anal fin originates behind the second dorsal fin origin. The caudal fin is much shorter than the rest of the body, and the pectoral and pelvic fins are broad. Spotted wobbegong sharks are also characterized by the presence of large spiracles, nasoral and circumnarial grooves, and the absence of caudal keels and ridges on the body. While other species of wobbegong are similar in appearance, the pattern of coloration is distinctive for the spotted wobbegong.

The size of the spotted wobbegong at birth is 8.2 inches, and reaches a maximum length of 10.4 feet. Males mature at lengths as small as 24 inches.

The teeth of the spotted wobbegong are described as enlarged fangs, they are long slender and sharp. There are two lateral rows in the upper jaw, and three lateral rows in the lower jaw.

The spotted wobbegong is generally pale yellow or greenish brown with large, dark saddles down the center of its back and many small white ‘O-shaped ‘ spots, blotches and corrugated edges, separated by lighter areas with dark broad reticular lines. The pattern serves as a camouflage.

The  diet  of the spotted wobbegong shark include lobsters, octopuses, crabs and bony fishes ( including groupers, scorpion fishes and sea chubs ), as well as other sharks ( including blind sharks and its own species ) and rays. This species can extend its reach during prey capture, they sit at the bottom and wait for prey to wander near its mouth. Other times they have been observed to slowly sneak up on its prey from a long distance.

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