The wonderful wobbegong

Here’s a wobbegong I saw at Woody Head recently. Queensland has five species, and we tend to get the same fish as them, due to similar subtropical water conditions. I’m not sure which one this is.

Wobbegongs are mostly harmless – would rather run than fight, like most animals – but may give a nasty bite if frightened enough. I’ve startled a couple (and vice versa) while snorkelling. They look much bigger underwater than they really are! They tend to rest under ledges, head in, during the day and come out to feed at night. The skin has pretty patterns, hence the common name of carpet shark.

Head not in the sand, but under a ledge - tail of a resting wobbegong

Still on the theme of sharks (I’ve mentioned this story elsewhere, but I may as well post it here as well) while I was doing my final year at uni some of us students got the chance to go on a boat to Port Lincoln and participate in tagging seals on the small islands near there. My job was to hold a pitchfork to keep the mammas at bay when we grabbed their kids for weighing, measuring length and tagging. I quickly discovered a better method – put a hessian bag on the pitchfork and stop mamma from seeing baby. She forgot what was happening if she couldn’t see her baby, and was quite calm. We could then get on with the business and give baby back without trauma to either species. The shark connection is that the area had been the location for several US shark-horror movies (hate those things – they give entirely the wrong idea about sharks and encourage slaughter of a species that is already in trouble). With all those shark lunches around, I was looking forward to at least seeing one – but didn’t. Have never dived with a large shark, alas – but I nearly sat on a wobbegong once while snorkelling at Byron on the wreck off main beach. I don’t know which of us got the bigger fright!

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4 Responses to The wonderful wobbegong

  1. rebecca says:

    Wobbegong – I love Australian words. It sounds like a creature out of Lewis Carroll, something akin to a Jabberwock.

  2. Joy Window says:

    It’s apparently an Aboriginal word, but exactly what meaning in which Aboriginal language is vague. There are supposedly 145 Aboriginal languages spoken today (down from 250 before colonisation) , but they aren’t the same language by any means.

  3. It is fascinating to see all the unique creatures you have down there. I just scrolled down your post. There are some birds on here that are going on my dream list.White Terns and Fairy Wrens, oh my, they are beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Pingback: The plainsong of seals | A-roving I will go

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