Tasselled wobbegong

Eucrossorhinus dasypogon

Type: Fish - Shark Litter size: Unknown Other common names: Bearded wobbegong Life span: Unknown years Diet description: Benthic fish and invertebrates, very occasionally other sharks Max length: 1.25 m metres Habitat and range: Found inshore and on shallow coral reefs (5 to 50 metres) in the Central Indo-Pacific, largely in New Guinea and northern Australia. Some reports from northern Indonesia. Relative size: Image IUCN status: Least concern (LC) - Unknown population Least concern (LC)
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Broad, flat head with upward facing eyes. Many branched dermal lobes that line the side of the head and chin. Well camouflaged; narrow dark bands on a light background, with some darker blotches. ‘Mosaic-like’ pattern. Heavy jaws, with two rows of enlarged, sharp ‘fangs’ on the upper jaw and three on the lower jaw. Very large, paired fins and flattened body.

A tasselled wobbegong resting on a reef. Photo © Ethan Daniels | Shutterstock
A tasselled wobbegong resting on a reef. Photo © Ethan Daniels | Shutterstock


Tasselled wobbegongs are supreme ambush predators. They are well camouflaged against the reef, thanks to their highly patterned colouration and modified dermal flaps, and lie perfectly still on the seabed. Once prey gets close enough, tasselled wobbegongs open their mouths at lightning speed, causing pressure differences in the water and creating suction. The prey is sucked into the mouth and engulfed whole. 


Not much is known about the biology of tasselled wobbegongs. They are assumed to be viviparous (give birth to live young) based on the reproductive habits of similar species.


Tasselled wobbegongs are found inshore on coral reefs in New Guinea and northern Australia, including the Ningaloo and Great Barrier Reef. They occur in shallow waters, between 5 and 50 metres. Previous reports of this species in Indonesia are thought to be erroneous (Last and Stevens, 2009). Individuals are commonly sighted on coral heads or in channels on the reef. They are thought to have small home ranges, and don’t stray far from their home reef.



Tasselled wobbegongs hunt on the seabed, feeding on benthic fish, invertebrates and very occasionally other sharks.


Threats to tasselled wobbegongs are thought to be minimal, mainly because of their association with coral reefs (a substantial part of their range falls within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park). They are caught as by-catch occasionally by fisheries, but are not a target species. Habitat loss is thought to be more of a threat, especially as climate change advances.


Tasselled wobbegongs are reported to bite divers, however this happens infrequently. Incidents usually occur when divers have accidentally strayed too close to a well-camouflaged wobbegong or when they have deliberately provoked one.


There are no species-specific measures for the tasselled wobbegong, but a large part of its range in Australia falls within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park where the species benefits from protective measures including no-take zones. Fishing is not allowed in no-take zones, restricting the capture and retention of sharks and rays.