Tasselled wobbegong (Eucrossorhinus dasypogon)
|Size||Maximum total length: 117 – 125 cm (1)|
The tasselled wobbegong is classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List (1).
This highly unusual looking shark is superbly camouflaged among sun-dappled coral by its beautiful mosaic markings of dark narrow lines and spots set against a yellowish-brown body (2) (3). The scientific name for the tasselled wobbegong (Eucrossorhinus dasypogon) roughly translates to 'well fringed nose with shaggy beard', referring to the distinctive mass of branching skin flaps that run continuously around the jaws, forming a lattice-like ‘beard’. This is more pronounced in this species than in any other wobbegong (2) (4). The tasselled wobbegong is also characterized by a very broad head and large, rounded pectoral fins (2).
The tasselled wobbegong is found in the eastern Indian Ocean and the western-central Pacific Ocean, around Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Australia (Northern Territory, Queensland, Western Australia) (1) (5).
Tropical inshore and offshore, bottom dwelling shark (1), found to depths of 40 metres (5). The tasselled wobbegong is associated with coral reefs, commonly seen on coral heads and in reef channels and faces (1).
This primarily nocturnal shark is a highly successful ambush predator (1) (4). Like all wobbegongs, this species relies on camouflage and quick reflexes to catch prey, but its unusual ‘beard’ also helps by appearing as succulent morsels that attract prey close to the mouth (2). Motionless and disguised, the tasselled wobbegong waits in the reef for small fish, squid, cuttlefish or crabs to come within striking range (2) (3) (4), before moving rapidly to snatch its prey (4). Additionally, a flexible flattened body shape allows this species to squirm into enclosed spaces or manoeuvre in caves for the best hunting spot (2). This shark is thought to have a small home range with several retreats within the area (1).
Little is known about the biology of this species, although it is believed to be ovoviviparious, with live young born after hatching internally (1) (6). Litter sizes of up to 20 or more are produced (6).
The tasselled wobbegong is not considered to be threatened in Australian waters; there are no targeted fisheries and the species does not appear in commercial or trawl fisheries as bycatch. Further more, a considerable portion of the shark’s habitat is protected in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. However, expanding fisheries and coral reef destruction through pollution and dynamite fishing threatens the wobbegong in the rest of its range, especially in Papua New Guinea (1).
There are currently no conservation measures in place for this species (1).
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- Bycatch: in the fishing industry, the part of the catch made up of non-target species.
- Home range: the area occupied by an animal during routine activities, which is not actively defended.
- Nocturnal: active at night.
- Ovoviviparious: ovovivipary is a method of reproduction whereby the egg shell is weakly formed and young hatch inside the female; they are nourished by their yolk sac and then ‘born’ live.
- Pectoral fins: in fish, the pair of fins that are found one on each side of the body just behind the gills. They are generally used for balancing and braking.
IUCN Red List (November, 2005)
Marine Themes: The world's largest marine wildlife image database. (December, 2005)
Coral Realm (December, 2005)
Elasmodiver.com (December, 2005)
FishBase (December, 2005)
Underwater Australasia (December, 2005)