Last weeks dwarf spotted wobbegong has got a big brother: the spotted wobbegong (Orectolobus maculatus).
The Spotted wobbegong is a bottom-dwelling ambush predator. It lives in relatively shallow water (up to 715 ft -218 m- deep) and can even occur in water barely deep enough to cover it. It has been observed climbing ridges between tide pools with its back out of water. But it don’t use its fins as legs in the process, like the epaulette shark does.
The Spotted wobbegong is ovoviviparous with about 21 living young every three years. Like most wobbegongs, it lives off Australia. It is one of two larger wobbegong species and reaches a length of 9.8 ft -3 m-, making it a target species in fisheries for its meat (smaller wobbegongs have not enough flesh on their non-existent bones to be lucrative). Fishing pressure led to a IUCN-classification as Near Threatened (and as Vulnerable regionally in New South Wales) up to 2015. But conservation measures like marine protected areas (MPAs) and new management regulations, both for commercial and recreational fisheries (for instance are recreational fishers allowed to “bag” no wobbegongs at all in New South Wales, and only two sharks per person in Western Australia and one shark per person in Queensland), seem to be working, resulting in an assessments as least concern. Fortunately, these regulations are not typal anymore, because it seems that it is very difficult to differentiate between wobbegong species (at least without a comparison specimen or a biology degree):
In New South Wales, O. is often confused with O. halei, but differs from O. halei by having more (6-10 dermal lobes at the posterior preorbital group) and saddles containing whitish rings and blotches (unlike O. halei).
In Western Australia, O. maculatus was previously synonymised with O. parvimaculatus. Taxonomic revision of Western Australian species showed that O. maculatus differs from O. parvimaculatus by having have relatively smaller and less densely distributed ocelli and dorsal fins lacking dark markings (blackish marginal blotches present in O. parvimaculatus). The dorsal fins of O. maculatus are also smaller and less upright than those of O. parvimaculatus (Last and Chidlow 2008).
Records from Japan and the South China Sea are likely to be mis-identified O. japonicus or another undescribed species.