GULF WOBBEGONG OR BANDED WOBBEGONG

Recently described large wobbegong

The Gulf wobbegong or Banded wobbegong (Orectolobus halei) is a species of shark belonging to the family Orectolobidae. They are endemic to southern Australia between Southport, Queensland and Norwegian Bay, Western Australia.

 

Family: Orectolobidae – Wobbegongs

Genus: Orectolobus 

Species: halei

Taxonomy:

Phylum– Chordata

Class– Chondrichthyles

OrderOrectolobiformes

Common NameCarpet Sharks

Family– Orectolobidae

Common NameWobbegongs

GenusOrectolobus

Specieshalei

Status: IUCN Red List LEAST CONCERN

Average Size and Length: They grow to a maximum length of 9.5 feet, much larger than the Ornate wobbegong.

Teeth and Jaw: Like all wobbegongs, it has a short mouth and broad pharynx, which allow it to suck up prey more easily. More than likely they have fang-like teeth great for grasping prey.

Head: Compared to the Ornate wobbegong, the Gulf wobbegong or Banded wobbegong has a larger head. It has 2 supraorbital knobs.

Denticles: Compared to the Ornate wobbegong, the Gulf wobbegong or Banded wobbegong has fewer dermal lobes at the posterior preorbital group; 4-6.

Demographic, Distribution, Habitat, Environment and Range: The Gulf wobbegong or Banded wobbegong is endemic to southern Australia between Southport, Queensland and Norwegian Bay, Western Australia. The Gulf wobbegong inhabits bays, macroalgae-covered rocky reefs, coral reef lagoons, reef flats, reef faces and reef channels, and around offshore islands.

Ram-Suction Index: They are high on the RSI, sucking in and impaling prey on their large teeth.

Aesthetic Identification: The Gulf wobbegong or Banded wobbegong has a distinctive brownish upper body with well-defined, darker brown saddles surrounded by black edges, saddles containing paler markings that lack whitish rings and blotches. Compared to the Ornate wobbegong, the Gulf wobbegong or Banded wobbegong has a shorter pelvic fin to anal fin interspace, larger pectoral fins, and larger claspers when mature. It also differs in having black edges around the saddles and fewer freckles.

Biology and Reproduction: Orectolobus halei The Gulf wobbegong or Banded wobbegong is very similar to the Ornate wobbegong. They were treated as synonyms until 2006. Genetic evidence suggests that the Gulf wobbegong is more closely related to the Spotted wobbegong.

The precaudal vertebrae count is greater than 106, the spiral valve count is greater than 25.

Reproduction is thought to be ovoviviparous. More than likely, the Gulf Wobbegongs give birth to large litters of between 17-47 pups in the Spring, following a gestation period of about 10–11 months.

Behavioral Traits, Sensing and Intelligence: Like other members of its family, the Gulf wobbegong or Banded wobbegong is thought to be nocturnal and rest in caves, under ledges, in trenches or on large sponges during the day.

Speed: More than likely slow like its family members. They probably use their large pectoral and pelvic fins to crawl across the bottom.

Gulf Wobbegong or Banded Wobbegong Future and Conservation: Taken in commercial and recreational fisheries as a target species and as bycatch. Historically, the skin was used as decorative leather. Currently their status is considered least concern.

Gulf Wobbegong or Banded Wobbegong Recorded Attacks on Humans: They could be potentially dangerous due to their powerful bite if they are provoked. Their bite force is extremely strong, and they tend to latch on and not let go. They are typically docile towards humans, but again if they are provoked, they will defend themselves.