Hello Explorers! Here comes September! And with a new month, comes a new Spotlight Creature of the Month. There sure are some odd looking animals in our aquatic environments. Especially in the ocean. Therefore, our Spotlight Creature of the Month is the Spotted Wobbegong!
Spotted wobbegongs are a type of carpet shark, and are one of twelve species within the wobbegong family, Orectolobidae. 1 The wobbegong family is one of seven families in the carpet shark order, Orectolobiformes. 1 This order also includes species such as Nurse sharks, bamboo sharks, zebra sharks, and even Whale sharks! 1
Spotted wobbegongs are found in the western Pacific, specifically along the northern and southern Australian coast and Southern China. 2 They prefer areas of reef, sandy bottoms, or around rocky outcroppings. 2 These sharks inhabit depths from the shallowest of areas to depths of 360 feet. 2
Wobbegongs definitely fit the visual representation of an animal that would be termed a "carpet shark". These guys are bottom dwellers, preferring to blend in with the scenery on the ocean floor. 1 The spotted wobbegong is named for the spotted patterning on its back of white and dark brown, helping to camoflage it from predators and prey. 1 As expected from such behavior, spotted wobbegongs are sit-and-wait predators, preferring to ambush their prey when it gets close enough compared to chasing after it. 1 Spotted wobbegongs, along with other wobbegong species, are distinctive in the presence of fleshy lobes surrounding their snouts, in addition to their nasal barbels. 2 The spotted wobbegongs are the largest of the wobbegongs, growing up to 10 feet in length, though most grow only to around 6 feet. 2
These nocturnal sharks feed on a variety of creatures, such as octopus, lobster, crabs, and fish. 2 Spotted wobbegongs have teeth that are long and sharp. 2 In addition, these sharks are known to hang onto whatever they do bite. 2 Of course like most other biting animals of the ocean, divers do not need to fear being bitten unless they provoke this shark. 2
Spotted wobbegongs are ovoviviparous: their eggs are internally fertilized and are kept within the female until the eggs hatch. 2 The record number of pups that one female produced was 37. 2
Read more about this incredible and odd looking shark at the following links:
2. Eagle, Dane; Spotted Wobbegong http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/fish/gallery/descript/spotwobbegong/spotwobbegong.html