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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.

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Shark picture - green sawfish

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DWARF ORNATE WOBBEGONG SHARK

Dwarf Ornate Wobbegong Shark Picture

Photographs copyright Andy Murch all rights reserved.

View all available Dwarf Ornate Wobbegong Shark Pictures

Common Names: Dwarf Ornate Wobbegong Shark, Ornate Wobbegong, Banded Wobbegong (misidentification).

Latin Name: Orectolobus ornatus

Family: Orectolobidae  

Identification:

A small species of Wobbegong with no warty tubercles on head or body; four groups of dermal lobes (skin flaps) below and in front of eyes on each side of head; no dermal lobes on chin; nasal barbel (closest to mouth) long and branched; three (rarely four) lobes in second preorbital group with outer lobes longer and branched; broad unbranched, spatulate postspiracular lobes.

Covered in an intricate pattern dominated by eight dark irregular saddles edged with black lines. Saddles stand out against a light tan or grey background. Light brown and gray freckle-like blotches on and between saddles and on pectoral fins. Convergence of dark aspects often leaves a light coloured  V or X shape in front of eyes.

Note, previously thought to be the juvenile form of the species which was assumed to grow much bigger. Recent studies have shown that the larger morph is actually a distinct species now referred to as the Banded Wobbegong (Orectolobus halei).

Size: Maximum size 1m. Females mature at 79 - 86 cm. Males mature at 79 - 83 cm

Habitat:  Temperate rocky reefs and bays. Intertidal to 100m. 

Abundance and distribution: East Coast of Australia from Port Douglas, Queensland to Sydney New South Wales.

Behavior:  An ambush predator. Remains motionless blending with reef structure until small fishes swim within striking range. Then, rapidly opens mouth sucking in its prey.

Reproduction: Ovoviviparous.

Photographs: Fish Rock, South West Rocks, NSW, Australia.

Similar species: There are seven described species and a few undescribed species of wobbegongs. Most can be distinguished by barbell configuration and markings. The closely related banded wobbegong is usually much bigger and has branched post-spiracular dermal lobes.

Orectolobus halei, which is regionally sympatric with S. tentaculatus, O. maculatus, O. wardi, O. hutchinsi, and two undescribed species of Orectolobus off WA, can be distinguished from these species by the combination of the number of dermal lobes, color pattern and the absence of tubercles. Orectolobus hutchinsi has slender unbranched postspiracular lobes (broad and branched in O. halei and O. maculatus) and a distinctive yellowish brown upper body coloration with well-defined, darker brown saddles containing paler markings that lacks whitish rings and blotches (unlike O. ornatus and O. maculatus) (Last et al., 2006). Sutorectus tentaculatus has large rounded tubercles on both the head and body, not present in the adults of other members of the family Orectolobidae. Orectolobus maculatus has six to ten dermal lobes, O. wardi has unbranched nasal barbels, whereas O. halei has five dermal lobes and branched nasal barbels. Orectolobus wardi has a simple color pattern with fewer dark spots, while O. maculatus and O. halei have a more elaborate pattern of variegated spots and saddles. Orectolobus maculatus has white Oshaped spots and white blotches that are absent in O. halei.

From:

Redescription of two species of wobbegongs (Chondrichthyes: Orectolobidae) with elevation of Orectolobus halei Whitley 1940 to species level. CHARLIE HUVENEERS 2006.

Reaction to divers: Remains at rest relying on camouflage unless harassed. Wobbegongs have been reported to have bitten divers that got too close to their mouths even when not disturbed. 

Diving logistics: This is a commonly encountered species in New South Wales. There are resident populations in many areas including reliable groups at South West Rocks, and Nelson Bay. The diving at South West Rocks is by boat. Contact Fish Rock Dive Centre for more information. The Ornate Wobbegongs in Nelson Bay can be encountered while shore diving. The dive sites are tidal and should not be attempted except at slack. For more information contact Pro Dive Nelson Bay. 

Other diving locations submitted by readers

References and further reading:

Redescription of two species of wobbegongs (Chondrichthyes: Orectolobidae) with elevation of Orectolobus halei Whitley 1940 to species level. CHARLIE HUVENEERS 2006.

Reef Sharks and Rays of the World. Scott W. Michael. Sea Challengers.

Sharks and Rays - Elasmobranch Guide of the World. Ralf M. Hennemann. IKAN.

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