Biodiversity #15 – Wobbegong: the world’s most chilled – or laziest – depending on your point of view – shark. Their name possibly derived from an Australian Aboriginal word, Wobbegongs represent just 12 species of carpet sharks in the family Orectolobidae in the order Orectolobiformes which includes the whale shark and zebra shark.
Wobbegongs are the only truely protected species in Australia. The bag limit is zero. Which means if a fisher catches one, he must release it unharmed. If a spear fisher kills one – he needs to be reported to Fisheries.
Wobbegongs are well camouflaged with symmetrical patterns and often it’s difficult to distinguish the different species. There are spotted, banded, ornate, tasselled, and my personal favourite – the big eared wobbegong.
They spend much of their time ‘resting’ on the sea floor (resting from what exactly??). Note: Wobbegongs are very flexible and can easily bite a hand holding on to their tail. You have been warned – admire them from a distance or up close, but without a prod or a poke to see how soundly they are sleeping. It would be rare to dive in NSW waters without seeing a wobbe. The one in the banner was taken at Fish Rock, the one above in Nelson Bay, NSW.