Wobbegong or bearded carpet shark. (Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia, March 2012)
Wobbegong or bearded carpet shark. (Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia, March 2012)

The wobbegong... is that a shark?

#RajaAmpat # Indonesia

  Indonesia: Raja Ampat + Bali - March 2012

Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation made from a post originally written in French. My apologies for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have been generated during the process. If you are reading French, click on the French flag below to access the original and correct text: 

I am not done with Raja Ampat! Let me introduce you to a strange monster, very common in these waters: the bearded carpet shark or "wobbegong".

Wow... another monster!

There are really funny things underwater... Nature seems to be able to invent infinite life forms, especially under the sea. The more I dive, the more it amazes me.

???? ????

My collection of underwater monsters - remember the abominable little creatures of Lembeh - is getting richer. Here is the bearded carpet shark, Eucrossorhinus dasypogon of its scientific name, which anglophones call wobbegong.

Wobbegong or bearded carpet shark. (Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia, March 2012)
Wobbegong or bearded carpet shark. (Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia, March 2012)

It is a rather rare animal. I had never encountered it while diving before this stay of March 2012 in Raja Ampat, in Indonesian Papua.

The wobbegong, almost invisible on the background

It's a shark, then. You can't necessarily see it at first glance. First of all, because most of the time, you don't even notice it. Its mottled brown-gray coat is a great camouflage outfit against the background.

Then because it remains wallowed in the debris of coral, huddled on the sand, or hidden in the shade, without moving too much, like a carpet ... (Hence the name!)

Don't be fooled by the two white spots on her head, it's a special camouflage illusion: they are not her eyes! Her real eyes are smaller, more in front of her head, of the same color as her dress, almost invisible...

To learn more about wobbegong, I refer you to the page of the Encyclopedia of Nature of Monaco.

Wobbegong or bearded carpet shark. Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia. March 2012.
Wobbegong or bearded carpet shark. Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia. March 2012.
A wobbegong (bearded carpet shark) "takes off" from the reef, right in front of me. (Mioskon, Raja Ampat, Indonesia, July 2012)
A wobbegong (bearded whale shark) "takes off" from the reef, right in front of me (Mioskon, Raja Ampat, Indonesia, July 2012)

Moreover, this shark has a beard. Finally, some kind of growths around the mouth, a bit like scorpion-fish. Their shape reminds of coral tips. He thus finishes blending into his environment.

Each time we met one, during these dives in Raja Ampat, I had not seen anything. Without the trained eye of my underwater guides, I would have missed it.

It seems that it has teeth

This is the kind of shark that you can easily approach while diving. It does not move. Or very little. You can come very close, with the dome of the camera in front of its snout, it does not flinch.

Here is a short video of one minute where we can see some of the wobbegongs I met in Raja Ampat.

Be careful not to get too close. He may play the carpets, with his rounded mouth that seems harmless, but he has small teeth, this shark, and does not let go easily. It is better to avoid frightening or disturbing it.

➜ To see all the articles about my dives at Raja Ampat : one click here !

  Indonesia: Raja Ampat + Bali - March 2012

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  1. Fantastic creature, like something out of a Tim Burton movie! He really doesn't have a shark's head, but I'd love to see it (his head) one of these days! I'll have to investigate to find out where it lives!
    In any case, thank you for the video and for all these fish: it swarms!

    1. @Malene: yes, he's handsome with his funny face... I think his zone is essentially the Indo-Pacific. For this little bit of video, I rediscovered all my rushes, here, by exploring my hard disk to recover the videos of the wobbegong. I was fascinated by some of the films myself, and by the abundance of seabed life in Raja Ampat. I'll have to find the time to edit it all...

    1. @Julien: it's a bit of a legend, actually... It's true for most of the sharks we call "pelagic" (i.e. those living in the open ocean and cruising offshore) : they need to swim or be in the current to circulate water through their gills and thus breathe; but many other sharks, including the species we call "benthic" (which live close to the bottom and reefs), like this carpet shark, have a system that "pumps" through their gills (as you can see on my little video, the gill slits are regularly raised).

  2. Raja Ampat is "teeming with fish"! It makes you want to go there and dip your flippers and lens...
    A little stay at the Kri resort wouldn't go amiss... I'll have to save a little this year, but it looks worth it.
    Have you seen any other strange creatures? I think this carpet shark is beautiful!

    1. @Nani: yep, it's teeming!!! I've got a whole bunch of other video rushes where it's swarming, that I need to edit... Raja Ampat, it's worth breaking your piggy bank, really, it's where "all the fish live" as they say Max Ammerthe founder of Papua Diving on Kri Island. He's not exaggerating.

      On the other hand, with an airport in the offing, increasing tourism, polluting mining and illegal fishing, it's not certain that this fish paradise will remain so forever. We must hurry to get there...

      When it comes to strange and unusual creatures, I did see a few nudis and a tiny alien-looking cuttlefish, but the carp shark is definitely the coolest in the "strangeness" category.

  3. Now you've said too much Corinne, unpublished nudi !!!! and you announce it just like that without even giving us a little bonus photo 😮 , now that's not fair!
    Well I'll stop 😛 , I love your shark, at least here's one who will reconcile people with his good head of limp ❗
    Hey, the next post is all about nudies 😉

    1. @Laurence: tss-tss, you're exaggerating... I've already shown one, of unpublished nudi, it was in this post, between the photo of the little bamboo shark and the one of the school of barracudas :
      Papua, diving into another world
      Well, come on, I put it back, just for you:

      Nudibranch. Diving in Raja Ampat. Papua, Indonesia, March 2012.

      My next post will be about New York. But the post after that will be about Raja Ampat again... I'll be alternating, in the days to come: a shot of diving, a shot of the Big Apple!

  4. As you say, nature invents surprising forms of life underwater. That'll make you want to go diving in Raja Ampat!

    1. @Bruno: if you have the time and the means, go for it! You will not regret. Raja Ampat is truly an exceptional destination. I do not say that lightly ...

    1. @Ray Manta: bah yes, it's crazy, isn't it? And the visi, same thing, it was always pretty much like that for the duration of my stay anyway...

  5. In my opinion, this critter's qualities are "debonair" and "patibular". Our guide lifted the tail of one of these energumenes to distinguish its sex, and it did so without flinching. His way of life is camouflage and nothing else. I saw 5 of them before going to R4. I even saw one move.
    No wonder I want to return to one of the last paradises on earth, despite the cost, distance and time required to get there.

    1. @Gérard: yes, as you say, despite the cost, the distance, the time... all we want to do is go back!!!! (In fact, I'm planning to.)

  6. The camouflage of this funny shark is really effective! It is barely distinguishable!
    And I say nature must be on LSD to invite such things!

  7. I hardly dare to send my inadequate little comment, because unlike most of the commenters, I don't like this carpet shark, or the bamboo shark for that matter, and no more than "the shark-whatever-you-want", I only see the word shark, to the detriment of everything that follows, and this word alone makes me shudder with anguish! It has to be said that I'm irredeemably earthbound 😉
    That said, the photos are beautiful.

    1. @Ysbilia: that's because you don't know them... 😀

      There are more and less friendly sharks, that's for sure. But I think the whale shark might be the only one that catches your eye: a big, toothless giant that swallows nothing but plankton, with a pretty coat of white polka dots in elegant patterns...

      (There is a video or photo gallery here.) If you do not see it, your JavaScript is not active or your version of Adobe Flash Player is too old. Click here to get the new version of Flash Player.)


    2. Convincing commentary and video, so I'll make an exception for the beautiful toothless whale-shark with the pretty white polka dot dress 😉

    1. @Alimata: absolutely, that's his little brother !!!! They have an undeniable family resemblance... 🙂 Thanks for the link.