A wobbegong discovered long ago, but only recently described

The Western wobbegong (Orectolobus hutchinsi previously Orectolobus sp. A) is a shark belonging to the family Orectolobidae. Despite having been known for many years, it only received its scientific name in 2006. It is found at rocky reefs off western Australia.


Family: Orectolobidae – Wobbegongs

Genus: Orectolobus 

Species: hutchinsi


Phylum– Chordata

Class– Chondrichthyles


Common NameCarpet Sharks

Family– Orectolobidae

Common NameWobbegongs




Average Size and Length: They are born around 22 cm/ 8.7 inches. One mature male was measured at 2.8 feet. The maximum recorded was 6.6 feet.

Teeth and Jaw: The mouth width is 4.7-10.2 times the preoral distance. The teeth in the upper jaw count between 25-27. The teeth in the medial row at the symphysis are rudimentary. The spiral valve turns 26-28. The monospondylous centra 48-50.

Head: There are long nasal barbels with one small branch. The postspiracular lobes are simple, reduced or rudimentary. The distance across the preorbital lobe group is 1.2-1.3 times the interspace between preorbital group and postspiracular lobe. It is 13-15 times the base length of the anterior postspiracular lobe. The base of the anterior postspiracular lobe is 11-12 in its distance from postorbital group. It is 4.9-7 in its distance from the posterior postspiracular lobe.

Denticles: There are 4 dermal lobes below and in front of each eye. The dermal lobes behind the spiracles are unbranched or weakly branched and slender. The juveniles have rows of elevated denticles or poorly defined warty tubercles on back. Adults don’t have them.

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 Western wobbegong, like its name, can be found in western Australia. They can be found over reefs and seagrass beds from the intertidal zone to less than 348 feet. They typically stay between 0-259 feet. They prefer tropical climates.

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

Aesthetic Identification: The Western wobbegong is yellowish-brown when fresh and has strongly constraining conspicuous broad, dark, rectangular dorsal saddles with light spots and deeply corrugated edges. They are not black-edged. These edges are separated by lighter areas with numerous broad, dark blotches. They do not have light O-shaped rings. They are moderate in size with a flattened body. The dorsal fins are raked posteriorly. The first dorsal fin originates over the rear half of the pelvic fin bases. The interdorsal space is 0.38-0.56 times the anal-fin base length. The anal-fin inner margin is 0.8-1.1 times the anal-fin posterior margin.

Biology and Reproduction: They are ovoviviparous.

Behavioral Traits, Sensing and Intelligence: Their behavior is unknown, but more than likely they are nocturnal and skilled ambush predators like their family members.

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

Western Wobbegong Future and Conservation: They are of least concern. They are typically discarded from gill nets and lobster pots.

Western 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.