Spotted Wobbegong, Orectolobus maculatus (Bonnaterre 1788)

Other Names: Carpet Shark, Common Carpet Shark, Common Catshark, Tassel Shark, Wobbegong

A Spotted Wobbegong, Orectolobus maculatus, at Montague Island, New South Wales. Source: John Turnbull / Flickr. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike

Easily recognised by the yellowish to greenish-brown body with large dark saddles along the back, whitish rings on the body (including within the saddles), and 8-10 fleshy lobes around the mouth and on the sides of the head. 
The Spotted Wobbegong is often confused with the Banded Carpetshark, Orectolobus halei, which has indistinct markings in the dark saddles and fewer fleshy lobes.

Great video of a Spotted Wobbegong at Bare Island, Sydney, New South Wales.

A Spotted Wobbegong in Cabbage Tree Bay, Manly, New South Wales.

Despite their seemingly docile nature, Spotted Wobbegongs have long, slender sharp teeth and may cause severe lacerations if provoked. Not only that, they seem reluctant to release their victims.

Cite this page as:

Dianne J. Bray, 2011, Spotted Wobbegong, Orectolobus maculatus, in Fishes of Australia, accessed 27 May 2016,

Spotted Wobbegong, Orectolobus maculatus (Bonnaterre 1788)

More Info


Recorded from Gladstone, Queensland, around the south to Victoria, South Australia, and in Western Australia to Bessieres Island. They are absent from Tasmania and parts of Victoria. 
Spotted Wobbegongs are commonly seen around reefs, in coastal bays beneath jetties and piers, and on sandy bottoms and seagrass beds.


At birth, the spotted wobbegong is about 21 cm in length. Adult males usually mature at 60 cm TL, and may grow to a maximum length of 320 cm.


Carnivore - feeds on bony fishes and invertebrates such as crabs, lobsters and octopus. Spotted Wobbegongs are nocturnal, hunting at night and resting during the day. 


Reproductive mode: aplacental viviparous (ovoviviparous) with females giving birth to up to 37 pups.


Targeted and taken as bycatch in commercial and recreational fisheries.


NSW: Listed as Vulnerable

IUCN Red List: Near Threatened


Although considered docile, bites from wobbegong sharks can not only cause severe lacerations, but the shark is often reluctant to release its victim. The International Shark Attack File records 23 confirmed attacks on humans by Spotted Wobbegong sharks. 

Similar Species

The Spotted Wobbegong differs from Orectolobus halei in having saddles with whitish rings and blotches, and more dermal lobes (6-10) at the rear end of the preorbital group.


The specific name maculatus is from the Latin maculosus meaning 'spotted', in reference to the spotted pattern on the body.


Dianne J. Bray

Spotted Wobbegong, Orectolobus maculatus (Bonnaterre 1788)


Bonnaterre, J.P. 1788. Tableau Encyclopédique et Méthodique des trois Règnes de la Nature. Ichthyologie. Paris. pp. 1-215, 102 pls

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Coleman, N. 1980. Australian Sea Fishes South of 30ºS. Lane Cove, NSW : Doubleday Australia Pty Ltd 309 pp.

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Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37013003

Conservation:NSW Vulnerable; IUCN Near Threatened

Danger:Dangerous if provoked

Feeding:0-280 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:90 cm TL

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