A nocturnal, bottom-dwelling species, the ornate wobbegong rests during the day, in caves, under ledges formed by coral reefs, and in trenches (1) (5). At nightfall, this species commences hunting for its preferred prey of fish and marine invertebrates, such as octopi and cuttlefish (3) (8). The striking colouration of the body provides excellent camouflage amongst fronds of algae and coral, and enables this shark to employ a sit-and-wait ambush strategy. The barbels around the mouth are used as lures to attract prey, which when in range, is quickly snapped in the powerful jaws. While smaller prey is immediately swallowed whole, larger animals may be held in the jaws, sometimes for days, impaled on the fang-like teeth. Once dead, the prey can then be swallowed without a struggle (3).
The ornate wobbegong is an ovoviviparous species, which means that it produces eggs that develop and hatch internally, and therefore gives birth to live young. While inside the uterus, the embryos are initially nourished by the egg yolk sac, but once hatched receive additional nourishment from a nutrient-rich fluid produced by the lining of the mother’s uterus (3). After a gestation period of 10 to 11 months as many as 18, but usually between seven and ten, pups are born, each measuring around 20 cm in length (7). The young sharks reach sexual maturity at around 80 centimetres in length. (2).