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Author: (de Vis, 1883)

Field Marks:
Flattened benthic sharks with dermal lobes on sides of head, symphyseal groove on chin, a strongly contrasting, variegated colour pattem of conspicuous broad dark, dorsal saddles with light spots and corrugated edges, interspaced with lighter areas and conspicuous dark, light-eentred spots; also, mouth in front of eyes, long, basally branched nasal barbels, nasoral grooves and circumnarial grooves, two rows of enlarged fanglike teeth in upper jaw and three in lower jaw, first dorsal origin over pelvic bases.

Diagnostic Features:
Head with five dermal lobes below and in front of eye on- each side; nasal barbels with a few branches; no dermal tubercles or ridges on back. Origin of first dorsal fin about over last third of pelvic base; first dorsal height about equal to base length; interspace between dorsal fins longer thaninner margin of first dorsal, about half first dorsal base. Colour pattern very conspicuous and highly variegated, dorsal surface of body with conspicuous broad, dark rectangular saddles with deeply corrugate6-margins, dotted with light spots and not ocellate in appearance; interspaces between saddles light, with numerous broad light-centred dark blotches.

Geographical Distribution:
Western Pacific: Japan, Indonesia (Irian Jaya), Papua New Guinea, Australia (Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South and Western Australia).

Habitat and Biology:
A common inshore bottom shark of continental waters, found on algal-covered rocky areas and coral reefs. A nocturnal shark, that rests on the bottom during the day and prowls on its reef habitat at night. Ovoviviparous. Probably feeds on bottom invertebrates and fishes as does the spotted wobbegong (Orectolobus maculatus). Said to attack waders and fishermen in tidepools.

Maximum total length about 288 cm; size at birth about 20 cm.

Interest to Fisheries:
Very limited, skin very tough and attractively patterned, and making a good leather.

Whitley (1940) proposed a subspecies, O. ornatus halei, for the ornate wobbegongs from South Australia, separable from O. o. ornatus of more northeastern waters by differences in its colour pattern and in the dermal flaps of the head. It remains to be seen at what level these apparent differences can be recognized.

Extra-Australian records for this species (Masuda, Araga and Yoshino, 1975, for Japan) require confirmation.

Type material:
Holotype: ?. Type Locality: Queensland coast, Australia.

Ornate wobbegong (Orectolobus ornatus)