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

A large, well-camouflaged yellowish to greenish-brown shark with large dark saddles along the back, whitish rings on the body (including within the saddles), a distinctive brown triangle between the eyes, and 6-10 long fleshy lobes along each side 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:
Bray, D.J. 2023, Orectolobus maculatus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 29 May 2024,

Spotted Wobbegong, Orectolobus maculatus (Bonnaterre 1788)

More Info


North of Swains Reef, Queensland, south to about Lakes Entrance, Victoria, and from about Warrnambool, Victoria, to North West Cape, Western Australia (Tasmanian and Northern Territory records probably in error). Although this species has been recorded from Japan and South China seas, it is most likely endemic to Australia. 
Inhabits reefs, sandy and seagrass areas in coastal bays. The species is nocturnal and individuals usually rest during the day. 


Body large, robust, no dermal ridges or warty tubercles along back; lateral head margin with 6-10 long, coarsely branched dermal lobes along each side before the eye - lobes absent from chin; small tubercle present above rear of eye.


A nocturnal predator, feeding mostly on fishes and octopus, along with crabs and other crustaceans such as crayfish. 


Individuals mature at 115-120 cm TL. Reproductive mode: aplacental viviparous (ovoviviparous) with females giving birth to up to 37 pups in spring following a 10-11 month gestation period.


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.

Species Citation

Squalus maculatus Bonnaterre 1788, Tableau encyclopédique et méthodique des trois règnes de la nature... Ichthyologie: 8. Type locality: southwestern Pacific (as La mer du Sud) - presumably Australia.


Bray, D.J. 2023


Atlas of Living Australia

Spotted Wobbegong, Orectolobus maculatus (Bonnaterre 1788)


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Günther, A. 1870. Catalogue of the Fishes in the British Museum. Catalogue of the Physostomi, containing the families Gymnotidae, Symbranchidae, Muraenidae, Pegasidae, and of the Lophobranchii, Plectognathi, Dipnoi, [thru] Leptocardii, in the British Museum. London : British Museum Vol. 8 549 pp. (as Crossorhinus barbatus)

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Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37013003

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Danger:Dangerous if provoked

Depth:0-218 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:170 cm TL

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map