To see more photographs of the Ornate Wobbegong
(Orectolobus ornatus) click here.
Ornate Wobbegong (Orectolobus ornatus)
All images and text on this
page are copyright protected: © 2010 Kelvin Aitken.
All rights reserved. Students may use this information for
personal research only. Not for commercial use.
Taxonomic name: Orectolobus ornatus
All wobbegongs have a similar flattened body shape with differing
colour patterns and dermal lobes or tassels of skin around
the head and jaws that helps us to differentiate between species.
In Australian there are six species of wobbegong but the Ornate
Wobbegong (Orectolobus ornatus) has the widest distribution.
Commonly found resting amongst rocky or coral reefs, this
species can be confused with the similar patterns of the Spotted
Wobbegong but it has dark blotches and 'saddles' edged in
black spots while the Spotted Wobbegong has dark blotches
and 'saddles' edged in white spots.
While wobbegongs tend to be more active at night, they are
opportunistic feeders taking a meal at any time that suits
their cantankerous disposition. Their hunting technique is
a sit-and-wait strategy that relies on their superb camouflage
to trick fish, lobsters, octopuses and cuttlefish that wander
into their range. At times they may also prop themselves up
on their pectoral fins and hold their head high to attract
prey to their tassels. When a victim comes into range a lightening
fast snap of the jaws secures the prey which is swallowed
whole. Large prey items may be held for days in a bulldog
grip until dying, allowing the wobbegong to swallow its victim
without a struggle.Box: Wounding by Wobbegong
If a wobbegong is molested or attacked, its spear-shaped holding
teeth can inflict a painful but shallow wound. Care should
be taken when wading or diving in the vicinity of wobbegongs
as their perfect camouflage can trick the unwary, an excuse
unacceptable to the grumpy wobbegong.