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Wobbegong Shark

These bottom-dwelling sharks which spend much of their time resting on the sea floor, often among rocks or under ledges. They are well camouflaged with a symmetrical pattern of bold markings which resembles carpet. Because of this striking pattern, wobbegongs and their close relatives are often referred to as carpet sharks. The camouflage is improved by the presence of small vegetation-like flaps of skin around the wobbegong's mouth. Wobbegongs make use of their relative invisibility to hide among rocks and catch smaller fish which swim too close, typical of ambush predators. Under the cover of night wobbegongs actively stalk octopuses, squid, crabs, sharks (including other wobbegongs), rays and reef fishes. The largest of the species, the spotted wobbegong, grows up to 3.2 m long, although most will not grow longer than 1.25m.

Wobbegongs are generally not dangerous unless they are provoked. They have bitten people who accidentally step on them in shallow water; they may also bite scuba divers or snorkelers who poke or handle them, or who block their escape route. Wobbegongs are very flexible and can easily bite a hand that is holding on to their tail. They have many small but sharp teeth and their bite can be severe, even through a wetsuit; having once bitten, they have been known to hang on and can be very difficult to remove. To avoid being bitten, divers should avoid accidental contact. Although wobbegongs do not eat humans, humans frequently eat wobbegongs; the flesh of a wobbegong or other shark is called flake and it is often used in fish and chips in Australia. Wobbegong skin is also used to make leather.

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