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What is the Tasseled Wobbegong Shark?

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By Amber Friend

Underwater predators use many tricky methods to lure potential prey close enough to attack and eat them. Two of the most common predatory adaptations for aquatic animals are physical alterations to their body to either disguise their appearance (camouflage) and/or the ability to make parts of their body glow in the dark (bioluminescence). Both of these tricks have multiple purposes. Camouflage helps potential prey hide from predators just as much as it helps predators blend into the background, waiting for prey to swim or float by. Bioluminescence can be used to lure prey to within attacking distance as well as communicate with other members of their species or as a visual threat to encroaching predators. But as we will see with the deep-sea squid, there are still many mysteries about how predators use their unusual body shapes to feed on prey.

The Tasselled Wobbegong
The Tasselled Wobbegong is an extremely unusual looking shark. With a distinctive body shape that is flat and broad with fringe branching skin flaps all along the mouth that reassemble a beard. The Tasselled Wobbegong stays low and camouflaged on the sea ground awaiting its next victim. The Tasselled Wobbegong has a slightly forked tip tail with a dark spot resembling an eye that lures its prey by imitating a fish swimming. By flicking its tail it tricks fish into its attack range. The Tasselled Wobbegong is extremely flexible, making it easy to turn around in a fraction of a second and devour any fish that tries to take a closer look at its tail. The Tasselled Wobbegong has been known to swallow other sharks!

A tasselled wobbegong shark sitting on the ocean floor.

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