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ANDY MURCH ELASMO GEEK

 

WHAT IS ELASMODIVER?

Not just a huge collection of Shark Pictures: Elasmodiver.com contains images of sharks, skates, rays, and a few chimaera's from around the world. Elasmodiver began as a simple web based shark field guide to help divers find the best places to encounter the different species of sharks and rays that live in shallow water but it has slowly evolved into a much larger project containing information on all aspects of shark diving and shark photography.

There are now more than 10,000 shark pictures  and sections on shark evolution, biology, and conservation. There is a large library of reviewed shark books, a constantly updated shark taxonomy page, a monster list of shark links, and deeper in the site there are numerous articles and stories about shark encounters. Elasmodiver is now so difficult to check for updates, that new information and pictures are listed on an Elasmodiver Updates Page that can be accessed here:

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Shark picture - green sawfish

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COBBLER WOBBEGONG

 

Photographs copyright of Andy Murch all rights reserved.

 

View all available Cobbler Wobbegong Shark Pictures in the Shark Pictures Database

 

Common Names: Cobbler wobbegong, Cobbler carpet shark.

 

Latin Name: Sutorectus tentaculatus

 

Family: Orectolobidae

 

Identification: Dorsum covered in large dermal denticles (tubercles) giving a warty appearance. Markings consist of dark saddles with corrugated margins, separated by thinner pale areas with mottled dark irregular spots. Nasal barbells thin and un-branched. Four skin flaps (1 then 2 then 1) on each side of mouth. Upper jaw contains two rows of small fang-like teeth. Lower jaw contains three rows.

 

Size: 92cm. Birth size approx 22cm. Males mature at around 65cm.

 

Habitat: Found on rocky and coral reefs. Often in kelp.

 

Distribution: From the Abrollos Islands Western Australia, to Adelaide, Southern Australia. More common in South Australia.

 

Behavior:  Remains motionless during the day usually hidden under kelp or ledges. Probably forages for benthic inverts. and bony fishes as well as co-species.

 

Reproduction: Presumed ovoviviparous.

 

Conservation Status: Listed as least concernby the IUCN. However, The Cobbler Wobbegong is a component of the bycatch of the Western Australian temperate demersal gillnet and demersal longline fisheries. The species, along with other wobbegong species occurring within the region, is primarily caught by demersal gillnets off the southern and lower west coasts of Western Australia. A fisheries-dependent survey of southwest Western Australia fisheries reported that the Cobbler Wobbegong constituted 0.9% of total elsamobranch catches from gillnets (Jones et al. 2010). Wobbegongs were historically also caught by a few vessels using demersal longlines in the same fishery until the use of that gear was restricted in 2006. The Western Australian temperate demersal gillnet and demersal longline fisheries mean annual wobbegong catch is about 40 tonnes per year (range 28-68 tonnes) between 1999 and 2014 and does not show any sign of decline (Department of Fisheries WA Fishery Status Report 1998-99 to 2013-14, for example, Braccini et al. 2014). Although wobbegong catches are generally not reported to individual species, small wobbegongs (<150 cm) are selectively discarded alive (Chidlow et al. 2007, R. McAuley, pers. comm,, February 2015) due to low flesh recovery rates from smaller individual. Thus, the Cobbler Wobbegong is believed to be a minor component of those aggregated catches. In addition, post-release survival of wobbegongs is thought to be high.
In South Australia, the Cobbler Wobbegong is caught as bycatch in the Spencer Gulf and Gulf St Vincent prawn trawl fishery (Currie et al. 2009, SARDI unpubl. data). A survey of the Spencer Gulf prawn trawl fishery showed that the Cobbler Wobbegong was caught in 11 of the 120 sites sampled (Currie et al. 2009). The Cobbler Wobbegong is not retained and likely to have high post-release survival rates.
Small wobbegongs also occur in commercial rock lobster pots throughout temperate coastal Western Australian waters (Chidlow et al. 2007). However, as all sharks and rays are now commercially protected throughout Western Australia, wobbegongs cannot generally be retained by State managed commercial fishing vessels unless they are operating in the managed shark fishery.
The retained catch of wobbegongs by recreational fishers off the west coast of Australia has been estimated at approximately 1,000 animals per year (Sumner and Williamson 1999), while the estimated annual catch during 201112 by recreational fishing from boat licence holders was 1,535 wobbegongs, with 20% or 304 individuals retained (Ryan et al. 2013). Assuming the species composition of recreational wobbegong catches is similar to that of the commercial gillnet fishery, the Cobbler Wobbegong is also likely to be a minor component of recreational catches.

 

Photographs: Bremer bay, Western Australia.

 

Similar species: There are at least 12 species of wobbegongs. Most can be distinguished by barbell configuration and markings. The tubercles on the Cobbler wobbegong's back easily distinguish it from other species.

 

Reaction to divers: Remains at rest relying on camouflage unless harassed. I spent about twenty minutes slowly removing kelp from around the photographed individual and it remained motionless through the entire process.

Diving logistics: This wobbegong can occasionally be seen around Albany and Bremer bay in south western Australia. Although, it may be more commonly encountered further east. If diving at Bremer Bay contact Craig Lebens of Bremer Bay Dive Club. As well as the local charter operator he is an expert on Sea dragons and knows each site where they occur. In the summer months at Bremer it is also possible to find Necklace carpet sharks in the shallows.

 

References and further reading:

 

Huveneers, C. & Simpfendorfer, C. 2015. Sutorectus tentaculatus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T41864A68646166. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2015-4.RLTS.T41864A68646166.en. Downloaded on 28 November 2017.

 

Sharks and Rays of Australia - CSIRO (1994)

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