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Wobbegong Sharks of Sydney
What is a Wobbegong Shark?
Did you know that there are 12 wobbegong species found worldwide? These fascinating creatures are found in shallow temperate and tropical waters around the world. They get their common name from the growths around their mouths, which look like shaggy beards. Wobbegongs are ambush predators, lying in wait for their prey to come close before attacking. They are mainly carnivorous, eating fish, crustaceans, and octopuses.
Wobbegongs, also called carpet sharks, are easily recognized by their distinctively patterned skin. This camouflage helps them blend in with the seafloor, making it easier to ambush their prey. The carpet-like texture of their skin is also thought to reduce turbulence as they swim, making them more stealthy hunters.
Despite their large size (some species can grow up to 3.5 meters long), wobbegongs are relatively harmless to humans. However, they have been known to bite when provoked, so it's best to admire these amazing animals from a safe distance!
Wobbegong Species Found in Sydney Dive Sites
Two species of wobbegong sharks are found in Sydney dive sites around Sydney harbour and the waters of New South Wales: the spotted wobbegong and the ornate wobbegong.
The spotted wobbegong shark
The spotted wobbegong is identified by the appearance of skin flaps around its snout, as well as a dark saddle and white rings against a yellow-to-greenish-brown background. The spotted wobbegong fish tend to reside in shallow coastal waters no deeper than 100 metres and are often found on sand or rocky reefs where they're visible to divers. The average adult spotted wobbegong has a length for this species is 2 metres.
The ornate wobbegong shark
The ornate wobbegong is larger than the spotted wobbegong, with a maximum length of up to 3.5 meters long. It has a more complex colour pattern, with intricate patterns of lines, spots, and swirls. It is also distinguished by the large fleshy lobes on its head, which it.
Dive sites where you can find Wobbegongs around Sydney
- Voodoo - This famous surf break is also home to a healthy population of wobbegongs.
- Oak Park - They can often be seen lying in wait on the second reef or in the back of the cave at Oak Park.
- Sutherland Point - Another great place to see wobbegongs is Sutherland Point at Kurnell. These sharks are often found hiding among the rocks, ocean floor and swim-throughs
- Sea Life Aquarium - If you're not a certified diver, you can still get up close and personal with wobbegongs at the Sea Life Aquarium. This facility is also home to 12 different species of other sharks.
Are Wobbegongs dangerous?
No, wobbegongs are not generally considered dangerous to humans. However, they have been known to attack swimmers, snorkelers, and scuba divers who come too close to them. They also have sharp teeth and can bite through a wetsuit, so it's best to avoid them if you can. The woobie is a special kind of shark that can turn around and bite its own tail. So, the next time you're diving, think twice before you pull on a woobie's tail!
Are Wobbegong sharks protected?
While wobbegong sharks are not currently protected in NSW, recreational fishers have had a bag limit of zero since 2007, while commercial fishers were restricted to a bag limit of six wobbegongs per day with a minimum size limit of 130 cm. In the past 30 years, divers noticed Sydney dive sites lacking wobbegongs'. The likely cause for this decline is overfishing.
Ten Fun Facts About Wobbegong Sharks
1. Wobbegong sharks are a type of carpet shark.
2. There are 12 different species of wobbegong shark.
3. Wobbegong sharks are found in the coastal waters of the Indo-Pacific region.
4. The name “wobbegong” comes from the Aboriginal Australian word for “shaggy beard”.
5. Wobbegong sharks can grow to be up to 3 meters long.
6. The largest species of wobbegong is the Orectolobus maculatus, which can weigh up to 500 kilograms.
7. Wobbegongs' are ambush predators and will lie in wait for their prey.
8. Wobbegongs' are not considered to be dangerous to humans, but they have been known to bite when provoked.
9. Wobbegong sharks are ovoviviparous, which means that they give birth to live young.
10. The average litter size for a wobbegong is 8-10 pups, with baby wobbegongs born fully developed and measuring between 60 and 90 cm long
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