Tasseled Wobbegong Shark

Tasseled wobbegong (eucrossorhinus dasypogon) sitting on a rock on the ocean floor, Indonesia / Dave Fleetham/Perspectives/Getty Images
Tasseled wobbegong (eucrossorhinus dasypogon) sitting on a rock on the ocean floor, Indonesia. Dave Fleetham/Perspectives/Getty Images

The tasseled wobbegong shark is one of the most extraordinary-looking shark species.  These animals have distinctive, branched lobes extending from their head and a flattened appearance. Although these sharks were first described over 100 years ago (1867), they are not well-known. 

Tasseled Wobbegong Shark Identification

Like other wobbegong sharks, tasseled wobbegongs have large heads and mouths, flattened bodies and a spotted appearance.

 

These sharks have 24 to 26 pairs of highly branched dermal lobes that extend from the front of the shark's head to its pectoral fins. It also has branched nasal barbels on its head. This shark has patterns of dark lines over lighter skin, with dark spots and saddle patches. 

Tasseled wobbegongs are usually thought to grow to a maximum size of about 4 feet in length, although a questionable report estimated one tasseled wobbegong shark at 12 feet.

These sharks have three rows of sharp, fang-like teeth in their upper jaw and two rows of teeth in their lower jaw. 

Classification:

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Chondrichthyes
  • Subclass: Elasmobranchii
  • Order: Orectolobiformes
  • Family: Orectolobidae
  • Genus: Eucrossorhinus
  • Species: dasypogon 

The genus Eucrossorhinus comes from the Greek words eu (good), krossoi (tassel) and rhinos (nose).

Where Do Tasseled Wobbegong Sharks Live?

Tasseled wobbegong sharks live in tropical waters in the southwest Pacific Ocean off Indonesia, Australia and New Guinea.

They prefer shallow waters near coral reefs, in water depths of about 6-131 feet. 

Feeding:

This species feeds at night upon benthic (bottom) fish and invertebrates. During the day, tasseled wobbegong sharks rest in sheltered areas, such as in caves and under ledges. Their mouths are so large, the tassseled wobbegong sharks have even been seen swallowing other sharks whole.

This shark can feed on other fish that share its caves.

Reproduction:

The tasseled wobbegong shark is ovoviviparous, which means that the female's eggs develop within her body. During this process, the young get their nourishment in the womb from the egg yolk. Pups are about 7-8 inches long when born. 

Shark Attacks:

Wobbegong sharks are not generally considered threatening to humans, but their ability to camouflage with their environment, combined with sharp teeth, can result in a painful bite if you come across one of these sharks. 

Conservation:

These sharks are listed as near threatened on the IUCN Red List, Threats include damage to and loss of their coral reef habitat and overfishing.  Not much is known about this species, but populations appear to be declining, which is another reason for their near threatened listing.  Because of their beautiful coloration and interesting appearance, these sharks are sometimes kept in aquariums.

References and Further Information:

  • Bester, C. Tasseled Wobbegong. Florida Museum of Natural History. Accessed July 31, 2015.
  • Campagno, L., Dando, M. and S. Fowler. 2005. Sharks of the World. Princeton University Press. 368pp.
  • Compagno, L.J.V., 1984. Eucrossorhinus dasypogon  (Bleeker, 1867). FAO Species Catalogue. Vol. 4. Sharks of the world. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of shark species known to date. Part 1 - Hexanchiformes to Lamniformes. FAO Fish. Synop. 125(4/1):1-249. Rome: FAO. In FishBase. Accessed July 31, 2015.
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Kennedy, Jennifer. "Tasseled Wobbegong Shark." ThoughtCo, Aug. 31, 2015, thoughtco.com/tasseled-wobbegong-shark-2291574. Kennedy, Jennifer. (2015, August 31). Tasseled Wobbegong Shark. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/tasseled-wobbegong-shark-2291574 Kennedy, Jennifer. "Tasseled Wobbegong Shark." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/tasseled-wobbegong-shark-2291574 (accessed May 23, 2018).