A new but old shark species – how is that possible? Specimen of the Western wobbegong (Orectolobus hutchinsi) are well known wobbegongs in Australia, but the species has not been described scientifically until 2006.

Western Wobbegong, Orectolobus hutchinsi. Source: Barry Hutchins. License: All rights reserved

The Western Wobbegong lives in shallow coastal waters off southwest Australia. It has a maximum length of 4.9 ft -1.5 m- and is ovoviviparous with females breeding every two or three years and producing 18-29 young per litter (at a size of 8 to 10 in – 22 to 26 cm). Like all wobbegongs, it is well camouflaged with a symmetrical skin pattern (somewhat resembling that of a jaguar) and is a sluggish ambush predator.

Even if wobbegong flesh is called flake and sold locally for human consumption through ‘fish and chip’, Western wobbegongs are considerd too small and are often released alive if caught incidentally as bycatch. Wobbgongs are tough and post-release survival is high. As site attached species they benefit from habitat protection and marine protected areas (MPA), marine parks and nature reserves.

Sources: here, here and here

Advertisements