Today, we’d like to share with you some cool and interesting facts about the Wobbegong Shark that can be found in Raja Ampat dive sites. Just the mere mention of the word “shark” would usually send shivers up one’s spine but the Wobbegong Shark is nothing like the Great Whites and the Bull Sharks of the world. Despite its slow and sluggish demeanour, the Wobbegong Shark is not a hundred percent harmless – this predator is known for its sharp bite and powerful jaws, and it won’t let go quite so easily!
As the sole member of its genus, the Wobbegong Shark is classified as a carpet shark species within the Orectolobidae family. The word “wobbegong” is believed to come from an Australian Aboriginal language, meaning “shaggy beard”, referring to the growths around the mouth of the shark. While it is not generally aggressive, the Wobbegong is a master of disguise and supreme ambush predators, highly skilled in the art of camouflaging and hiding on the ocean floor. It has poor eyesight, so it uses its barbels to “sense” the environment before jumping out to surprise and ultimately consuming its prey.
5 Facts About Tasselled Wobbegong
In addition to its unique physical attributes, the Wobbegong Shark is also a tricky species with some interesting behaviour patterns that would charm any diver or nature enthusiast. So let’s get to know the Wobbegong Shark; here are some cool facts about this popular undersea creature to prepare you for your next dive trip with Mikumba Diving!
1. It Has An Interesting Nickname
Wobbegong sharks are also called “Carpet Sharks”, a unique nickname they earned thanks to their rough, mottled skin texture, which resembles a carpet. Their skin is covered in dermal lobes and flaps that break up the outlines of their bodies, with patterns that closely resemble the ocean floor where it lives, which helps them camouflage and hide from prey. This unique pattern lets them lie for hours, unnoticed, on the ocean floor, where they would wait for prey to swim by their mouths. Being masters of disguise, it would definitely be easy for divers to miss them.
2. They Are Nocturnal
The Wobbegong shark is a nocturnal animal that rests all day and hunts at night. Unlike other sharks, they do not have to keep swimming to breathe, so they sleep in reefs, caves or on the seafloor and feed when it gets dark. This is most likely due to the fact that the Wobbegong Shark has poor eyesight and can’t really see that well. They are also slow and sluggish, and hunting at night makes it much safer for them to move around and hide from larger fish and marine mammals that might try to eat them.
3. They Have Beards
The Wobbegong Shark does not look like the typical shark with sharp pointy noses and glistening teeth. The Wobby, as it is affectionately known in Australia, has a flat head and body. Its most prominent feature is its beard. In fact, its scientific name is Eucrossorhinus dasypogon, which means “well-fringed nose with a shaggy beard.” The whiskers around its noses are called barbels. It also has fleshy tassels and elongated fins that help it to blend perfectly with its surroundings.
4. They Do Bite And It Hurts
Wobbegong sharks are not aggressive in the least, but like most creatures in the wild, they will bite when feeling threatened and/or provoked. Divers are advised not to get too close; a Wobbegong shark may mistake your arm or leg for prey and clamp down. They would also retaliate if they were stepped on or touched. Their bites would hurt, as they have sharp teeth designed to crush through the shells of crustaceans and other hard-shelled prey, and their bites can cause puncture wounds, lacerations, and bruising. Do bear in mind, though, that Wobbegong sharks are generally not aggressive towards humans, and attacks are rare.
5. They Can “Walk”
Wobbegong sharks have been observed “walking” across the ocean floor, but the more accurate term would be “crawling”. They push their bodies along using their pectoral fins to move to a new hiding spot or to pursue prey in a slow and shuffling motion. This allows them to be almost unseen and unheard by prey and potential predators.
Liveaboard Trip with Mikumba Diving
Are you excited to experience an unforgettable diving trip in the breathtaking Raja Ampat? Hop on Mikumba’s boat, Jelajahi Laut, to cruise through pristine waters and visit numerous islands while diving to your heart’s content. You can observe colourful underwater creatures and the Tasselled Wobbegong at a safe distance with the guidance of our experienced team. With top-notch equipment and professional guides, you are guaranteed to have an incredible time exploring the stunning dive sites of Raja Ampat.