Friday, May 4, 2012

Spotted Wobbegong

Orectolobus maculatus
If you look hard enough you'll be able to tell that today's animal, the Spotted Wobbegong, is actually just a very strange looking shark. In fact, all members of it's order are pretty goofy in appearance, and are collectively known as Carpet Sharks due to their mottled coloring and bottom-dwelling natures.

Spotted Wobbegongs in particular have a greenish/yellowish/brownish coloration, covered in small, lighter outlined circles. These colors help them to remain camouflaged within the reef zones that they live. These sharks have a range that spreads across the continental shelf in the Indian Ocean and parts of the Pacific, and they are rarely found deeper than 350ft (110m).

Crab, Lobster, and Octopus are three of the Spotted Wobbegongs favorite foods. They hunt at night, remaining very still and waiting for prey to come near. They do sometimes sneak up on their prey while hunting, but the wait-and-catch method is more common.

One additional cool fact about Spotted Wobbegongs is that they are one of those interesting animals that is Ovoviviparous. That means that their young are born alive, after incubating in eggs within their mother's bodies. The offspring are usually around 20cm at birth, and there can be over 30 born at a time!

Despite their size, Spotted Wobbegongs are not considered dangerous to humans. There have only been 16 confirmed bites, none were fatal, and in all but two of those the Shark was provoked.

IUCN Status : Near Threatenened
Location : Indian Ocean
Size : Length up to 10ft (3m)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Chondrichthyes -- Order : Orectolobiformes
Family : Orectolobidae -- Genus : Orectolobus -- Species : O. maculatus

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