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Wobbegong Sharks

Wobbegongs are one of the many shark species that live in the Whitsundays. Named for their unique and unmistakable appearance, their name is said to come from the Aboriginal word for "shaggy beard." The sharks themselves have beard-like growths around their mouths that give them a beard-like look. They are known as carpet sharks and are most often seen (or not seen) blending in with the bottom of the ocean. They are masters of camouflage are are hard to see, even when you are looking for them!

As wobbegongs are bottom-dwelling sharks, they spend much on or around the sea floor, doing very little swimming and much more resting, often among rock or under ledges.. They are well camouflaged with a symmetrical pattern of bold markings which resembles coral growths or the sea floor. The beard-like flaps, which resemble coral branches or seaweed, helps to improve this camouflage by helping them blend in with their surroundings. They use this invisibility to hide out among rocks and ambush their prey, which swim to close, not detecting their presence. At night, they are know to actively stalk prey under the cover of darkness, targeting octopi, squid, crab, rays, fish and even sharks, including other wobbegongs.

Wobbegongs are generally not dangerous unless they are provoked. They have bitten people who accidentally step on them in shallow water; which does happen since they are so hard to spot. They may also bite scuba divers or snorkellers who poke or handle them, or attempt to block their escape route. Wobbegongs are the most flexible shark species and can easily bite a hand that is holding their tail, which no other species can do. They have small yet sharp teeth, and are known to hang on once they do bite. While there are no known fatalities from wobbegong bites, they are strong enough to bite through a wetsuit. To avoid being bitten, divers, swimmers and snorkellers should avoid accidental contact by keeping a close eye out and not walking on the seafloor.