The Seafloor Has a Carpet – A Shark You Shouldn’t Step On (Video)

Ever wondered what the most special-looking shark species could be? Well, the tasseled wobbegong shark is definitely a good candidate. Sometimes referred to as carpet sharks, these animals have an extraordinary, flattened appearance, due to their characteristic, branched lobes that extend from their heads. Although these sharks were first described in 1867, they remain mysterious as we still really don’t know them.

A tasselled wobbegong. You definitely shouldn’t step on it! SourceUPDATE: Apparently, this isn’t a wobbegong but a type of anglerfish in the Lophiidae family. You still shouldn’t step on it though!

The tasselled wobbegong (Eucrossorhinus dasypogon) is a species of carpet shark in the family Orectolobidae that inhabits the shallow coral reefs off northern Australia, New Guinea, and the adjacent islands. Reaching 1.8 m (5.9 ft) in length, this species has a broad and flattened body and head, but its most distinctive trait is a fringe of branching dermal flaps around its head, which extends onto its chin that enable it to camouflage itself against the coral reef environment, in which it lives.

During the day, the solitary tasselled wobbegong can generally be found lying inside caves or under ledges with its tail curled up, but when the night comes, it emerges and actively forages for food – even for humans, if the opportunity arises. They have been reported to bite and kill people even when unprovoked, with most attacks probably resulting from people accidentally disturbing them or being misperceived as prey.

No, it’s not part of the coral reef. Image credit: Jon Hanson

The tasselled wobbegong is considered the most specialized member of its family. Its ornate coloration and complex outlook grants it excellent camouflage, while it is probably a slower swimmer than related species. But that by no way means a disadvantage for this guy.

While these animals are solitary and individual sharks have a small home range, containing several preferred resting spots that are used repeatedly, this species becomes more active at night, swimming onto the reef to hunt. Its enormous mouth allows even sizeable prey to be swallowed, with one documented case of a 1.3 m (4.3 ft) long individual consuming a 1.0 m (3.3 ft) long brownbanded bamboo shark. Although the carpet shark is most active at night, it is an opportunistic ambush predator during daytime, preying upon schooling nocturnal fish such as soldierfish and squirrelfish, and sweepers that often shelter in the same cave. Also, tiny fish and crustaceans have been seen settling atop the resting wobbegong’s head, attracting larger fish that are in turn attacked by the wobbegong. Wow.

In fact, observations of these animals in captivity have further revealed that this species seems to engage in an active luring behavior. And a really special one, for that matter. When the tasselled wobbegong perceives food nearby, it begins to slowly wave its tail back and forth, which makes its caudal fin resemble a small fish, complete with a dark eyespot at the base. And since the shark typically rests with its head elevated, it is situated within easy distance of any prey drawn by that curious tail. Even humans.

Yupp, wobbegongs have several records of attacks on people that were apparently unprovoked, and the tasselled wobbegong has a reputation for even more aggressive behavior than related species. Australian biologist Gilbert Whitley even wrote in 1940 that it “attacks and generally kills the natives” of Papua New Guinea. And while it’s unclear whether Whitley’s claim held any truth, this species is certainly capable of inflicting severe wounds on humans. That said, the tasselled wobbegong is also an ecotourism attraction and many divers have approached it without incident. But given this shark’s cryptic appearance and poor vision, humans should definitely exercise caution to avoid accidentally harassing it or causing it to mistake a hand or foot for prey.

Perfect camouflage. Again, don’t step on it! Image credit: Leonard Low

So, in those few spots where the tasselled wobbegong can be found, you should definitely be on alert. Unfortunately though, even those few spots are decreasing in number, as the shark’s range is negatively affected by extensive fishery activity and habitat degradation from pollution, blast fishing, and coral removal.

We definitely shouldn’t step on it indefinitely.

Related Posts

A Birthday Thought: Fighting Dog Mangoworms

As we gather to celebrate another year of life, let us take a moment to reflect on a topic that weighs heavily on many canine lovers’ hearts…

The gripping tale of an abandoned dog’s tenacity and hunger as it battles to survive in the harsh wilderness is found in Survival Against All Odds

Onc𝚎 𝚞𝚙𝚘n 𝚊 tim𝚎, in 𝚊 𝚋𝚞stlin𝚐 cit𝚢, 𝚊 c𝚘m𝚙𝚊ssi𝚘n𝚊t𝚎 s𝚘𝚞l n𝚊m𝚎𝚍 Al𝚎x w𝚊s w𝚊lkin𝚐 𝚍𝚘wn t𝚑𝚎 st𝚛𝚎𝚎t w𝚑𝚎n s𝚘m𝚎t𝚑in𝚐 c𝚊𝚞𝚐𝚑t t𝚑𝚎i𝚛 𝚊tt𝚎nti𝚘n. In 𝚊 𝚍𝚊𝚛k 𝚊ll𝚎𝚢w𝚊𝚢,…

Can you save the poor puppy that’s stuck in a big plastic pipe that’s securely wrapped around its neck and wailing in pain? It’s a dire circumstance

In a heart-wrenching tale that captures the essence of compassion and courage, a distressed canine’s plight has ignited a wave of empathy and heroism. Struggling with a…

Shocking discovery: The giant ‘Colossus’ sculpture from the 16th century in Florence, Italy has an entire room hidden inside.

This epic colossus, half man, half mountain, was erected in the late 1500s by renowned Italian sculptor Giambologna as a symbol of Italy’s rugged Appenine mountains. This mountain god,…

“Fifty Years A Prisoner: Elephant’s Emotional Release Inspires Tears Of Joy”

A Journey from Captivity to Freedom An elephant’s long-awaited release from fifty years of captivity has moved the world to tears. The story of this majestic creature…

Bringing Back Memories of Childhood with Emotionally Engaging Pictures for Audience

Within the depths of our hearts, there exists a treasure trove of cherished memories from our childhood. From carefree laughter to tender moments of reflection, these memories…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *