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'm not finished 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 under the water ... Nature seems to be able to invent forms of life to infinity, 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 rich. Here comes 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's a pretty rare beast. I had never met her before 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. It's not obvious at first glance. First, because most of the time, you do not even notice it. Her brown-gray spotted dress is a great camouflage on the bottom.

Then because it remains wallowed in the coral debris, huddled on the sand, or hidden in the shadows, 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, the same color as her dress, almost invisible...

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

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 carpet shark) "takes off" from the reef, right in front of me. (Mioskon, Raja Ampat, Indonesia, July 2012)

Besides, he's got a beard, that shark. Finally, some kind of growths around the mouth, a bit like scorpion fish. Their shape is reminiscent of coral tips. This is how he finally blends in with his surroundings.

Whenever we met one of them, during those dives at Raja Ampat, I hadn't seen anything. Without the trained eye of my underwater guides, I would have missed it.

It seems he has teeth anyway

It's the kind of shark that's easy to get close to when you're diving. It's not moving. Or very little. You can come very close, with the dome of the camera in front of its snout, it doesn't flinch.

Below is a short one-minute video of some of the wobbegongs I've come across at Raja Ampat.

Be careful not to get too close. He may play the rugs, with his rounded mouth that seems harmless, but he still has small teeth, this shark, and does not let go easily. It's best not to frighten or disturb 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, you could think of a Tim Burton movie! He really does not have a shark's head, but I would really like to see her (her head) one of these days! It will be necessary that I investigate to find its zone of habitat!
    In any case, thank you for the video and for all these fish: it swarms!

    1. @Malene: yes, huh, he's handsome with his funny face ... I think his area is mostly Indo-Pacific. For this little piece of video, I rediscovered all my rushes, there, exploring my hard drive to recover the videos of the wobbegong. I remained fascinated myself in front of certain films, in front of the abundant wealth of funds to Raja Ampat. I would have to find the time to put all this together ...

    1. @Julien: it's a bit of a legend, actually ... It's true for most sharks that we call "pelagic" (ie living in the open ocean and cruising offshore) They need to swim or be in the flow to circulate the water in their gills and breathe; but many other sharks, whose so-called "benthic" species (which live close to the bottom and reefs), like this carpet shark, have a "pump" system in their gills (it's clear besides, on my little video, the gill slits rise regularly).

  2. But say so, it "is full of poiscaille" Raja Ampat! it makes you want to go soaking the fins and the goal ...
    A little stay at the Kri resort would not displease me ... I'll have to do little savings this year, but it seems to be worth it.
    Have you seen other weird beasts? I find it very beautiful this carpet shark!

    1. @Nani: yep, it's full! I have a whole bunch of other video rushes where it makes me serious, that I have to go up ... Raja Ampat, it's worth it to break his piggy bank, really, that's where "live all the fish" like said Max Ammer, the founder of Papua Diving at Kri Island. He does not exaggerate.

      On the other hand, with the airport getting ready, growing tourism, polluting mining and illegal fishing, not sure that this paradise of fish stays forever, alas. We must hurry to go ...

      In bizarre and unusual critters, I have seen some nudies and a tiny cuttlefish looking like aliens, but the shark carpet remains decidedly the most fun in the category "oddities".

  3. here you said too much Corinne, unpublished nudi !!!! and you announce it like that without even giving us a small photo as a bonus 😮 , there it is not fair!
    Well I stop 😛 , I love your shark, here is at least one who will reconcile people with his good head of patapouf ❗
    Hey say, the next post is about nudies right 😉

    1. @Laurence: tss-tss, you exaggerate ... I've already shown one, unpublished nudi, it was in this post, between the photo of the small shark-bamboo and that of the barracudas bench:
      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 in New York. But the next post will be again on Raja Ampat ... I will alternate, in the days to come: a dive, a shot of Big Apple!

  4. As you say, nature invents surprising life forms under water. It will feed the desire to go to Raja Ampat that!

    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: well yes, it's crazy, huh? And the visit, the same, it was always about like that during the duration of my stay anyway ...

  5. For me, the quality of this beast are debonnaire has mine patibulaire. Our guide has raised the tail of one of these energumenes to distinguish the sex, the latter is allowed to do without flinching. His way of life is camouflage and nothing else. I see it before going to the R4, I saw 5. I've even seen one move.
    Not surprising that I want to return to one of the last paradises on earth, despite the cost, the distance, the time required to achieve it.

    1. @ Gerard: yes, as you say, despite the cost, distance, time ... we have only one desire, go back! (By the way, it's in my projects.)

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

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

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

      There are sharks more or less friendly, that's for sure. But I think that the whale shark might be the only one to find thanks to your eyes: a good big giant with no teeth, who swallows only plankton, and who has a pretty dress with white dots that draw elegant grounds ...

      (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.