Observation of the Week, 12/22/16

This Ornate Wobbegong shark, seen off of Australia by @johnturnbull, is our Observation of the Week!

A lifelong lover of nature, John Turnbull started the website Marine Explorer “to show people what lives under the sea; in order to conserve we have to care, and to care we have to understand.” He discovered iNat after members of the Australasian fishes project asked him to share his (several thousand) photos from Marine Explorer and they are amazing!

The photo above is of an Ornate Wobbegong, which is a member of the Orectolobiformes order of sharks. Often called “carpet sharks,” due to the colorful patterns of many species, this order counts whale sharks, nurse sharks, and zebra sharks among its 43 species. Wobbegongs, of the family Orectolobidae, got their common name from the Australian Aboriginal word, which means “shaggy beard,” and describes the lobes which grow around the sharks’ mouths and act as sensory organs. Camouflage ambush predators, these sharks lie in wait on the seafloor until an unsuspecting fish strays close enough for them to grab.

“There are three species of wobbegong in central New South Wales, and they are hard to tell apart,” explains John. “As part of Marine Explorer, I try to show people the differences between species and so the wobby picture is part of that. The ornate wobby is the smallest and cutest of the three – sometimes you find them 30 cm or less. It shows that not all sharks are big and scary as popular culture would have us believe.”

Although a recent iNat member, John has been impressed with the community. “I have found iNaturalist to be great to confirm my IDs, and find ones  where I have mistaken one species for another,” he says. “The interaction with others with similar interests is most valuable. I am passionate about citizen science as a way of engaging people in nature and iNaturalist is a great example of this.”

- by Tony Iwane


- Check out Marine Explorer’s awesome Flickr and Vimeo pages!

- Here’s some nice footage of an Ornate Wobbegong resting on a rock.

- Great look at a Tasselled Wobbegong inhaling a fish! Marred by some overwrought narration and music, alas.

Posted by tiwane tiwane, December 22, 2016 17:55

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Good one John!!

Posted by richardling over 3 years ago (Flag)

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