Orectolobus maculatus (Bonnaterre, 1788)
Wobbegong, Carpet shark, Common carpet shark, Common catshark, Tassel shark, spotted wobbegong
The sluggish spotted wobbegong spends much of its day lying motionless on the bottom or hidden in caves, under overhangs or in shipwrecks. At night, the shark becomes more active, and swims, or moves about the sea floor, searching for prey to slowly sneak up on (2). Bottom-dwelling animals such as reef fishes, octopuses, crabs and rock lobsters are some of their preferred foods (4), many of which blunder unwittingly towards the mouth of the camouflaged wobbegong. By opening its wide mouth and expanding its throat, the wobbegong can effectively suck in its prey, trapping and killing it with its powerful jaws and big teeth. After a night spent hunting, the spotted wobbegong, which is observed singly or in aggregations, often returns to the same resting site (2). The nocturnal spotted wobbegong is an ovoviviparous shark, thus the embryos develop inside eggs that remain inside the mother until they hatch. Females give birth to large litters, usually of around 20 pups, but up to 37 pups have been recorded (5).