Names: Dwarf Ornate Wobbegong
Shark, Ornate Wobbegong, Banded Wobbegong (misidentification).
Name: Orectolobus ornatus
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.
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).
Maximum size 1m.
Females mature at 79 - 86 cm. Males mature at 79 - 83 cm
Temperate rocky reefs and bays. Intertidal to 100m.
East Coast of Australia from Port Douglas, Queensland to Sydney
New South Wales. Reports from Indonesia, Malaysia and PNG are probably
An ambush predator. Remains motionless blending with reef
structure until small fishes swim within striking range. Then, rapidly opens
mouth sucking in its prey.
Fish Rock, South West Rocks, NSW, Australia.
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.
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.
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.
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
Redescription of two species of
wobbegongs (Chondrichthyes: Orectolobidae) with elevation of Orectolobus
halei Whitley 1940 to species level. CHARLIE HUVENEERS 2006.