Little known wobbegong shark

The Northern wobbegong (Orectolobus wardi) is a shark belonging to the family Orectolobidae, found in the western Pacific Ocean around Australia. It is a lesser studied species of wobbegong. Like their family members, they are nocturnal.


Family: Orectolobidae – Wobbegongs

Genus: Orectolobus

Species: wardi


Phylum– Chordata

Class– Chondrichthyles


Common NameCarpet Sharks

Family– Orectolobidae

Common NameWobbegongs




Average Size and Length: The length at birth is unknown. One mature male was measured at 1.5 feet. The maximum recorded is 2.1 feet and possibly 3.3 feet.

Teeth and Jaw: Like all wobbegongs, it has a short mouth and broad pharynx, which allow it to suck up prey more easily. The teeth aren’t recorded but they are more than likely long, and fang-like.

Head: The head is broad and flat. There are unbranched nasal barbels. The eyes are small and oval, and are in front of the large spiracles.

Denticles: There are 2 dermal lobes below and in front of each eye. The dermal lobes behind the spiracles are unbranched and broad.

Tail: The caudal fin with its upper lobe is hardly elevated above the body axis. It has a strong terminal lobe and subterminal notch but no ventral lobe.

Demographic, Distribution, Habitat, Environment and Range: The Northern wobbegong can be found in Australia (9°S – 26°S, 114°E – 154°E) on shallow reefs less than 10 feet to deep, but the exact depth is unknown since they have only been spotted along reef environments. They have often been found in turbid water. They prefer tropical climates.

Diet: The Northern wobbegong presumably feeds on bottom invertebrates and fishes, but diet still unrecorded.

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

Aesthetic Identification: The Northern wobbegong is a simple subdued color pattern with a few dark spots dusky mottling and 3 large, dark light-edged and ocellate, rounded saddles separated by broad, dusky areas without spots or reticular lines in front of the first dorsal fin. The body is very stalky and flat. It has 2 dorsal fins almost equal in size and triangular. The first dorsal fin is located over the insertion of the pectoral fins and the insertion of the second dorsal fin is above the origin of the anal fin. The anal fin is rounded and located so far posteriorly, that it looks similar to the lower caudal fin lobe. The pelvic and pectoral fins are wide and lobed.

Biology and Reproduction: Not much is known about the biology and reproduction of the Northern wobbegong, but they are more than likely ovoviviparous.

Behavioral Traits, Sensing and Intelligence: The Northern wobbegong is nocturnal. They are inactive by day. Sometimes they are found with their head under a ledge. Their camouflaged bodies are perfectly designed to wait still and ambush their unknowing prey.

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

Northern Wobbegong Future and Conservation: Currently their status is listed as least concern. They aren’t fished and are possibly common throughout their range. Like its family members, the Northern wobbegong may be a target for aquaria.

Northern 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.