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Spotted Wobbegong Shark
Threat Level: low
Scientific name...........Orectolobus Maculatus
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.
Possibly nocturnal. Sluggish and inactive by day in caves, under overhangs and in channels, singly or in aggregations. May return to resting sites. Can make short trips well above the seabed and climb ( with back above water) between tidepools. Males fight in captivity during breeding season.
The spotted wobbegong is found in southern Australia. They occur on coral and rocky reefs, bays, estuaries, seagrass, tidepools, under piers, and on sandy bottoms, and intertidal zone down to 360 feet. There have been many sightings of this shark in water barely deep enough to cover its entire body.
The spotted wobbegong is ovoviviparous giving birth to large litters up to 37 pups. The male bites the female's gill area before and during copulation.
This shark is generally not an aggressive creature but is known to attack when provoked.It will bite people when stepped on and the bite can cause severe lacerations, and they are often reluctant to let go once the bite has been delivered. It has been suggested that male spotted wobbegongs are more aggressive during the reproduction season.
The spotted wobbegong shark is currently assessed as "Vulnerable" in waters off New South Wales due to serious declines in population numbers in that region and "Near Threatened" throughout the remainder of its range by the ( IUCN ) Red List.
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