Our first Tasseled Wobbegong pups

Tasseled Wobbegongs (Eucrossorhinus dasypogon) are a species of carpet shark in the family Orectolobidae. These bottom-dwelling sharks are found in shallow coral reefs off northern Australia, New Guinea and Indonesia.

tasseled wobbegong
Their beautiful mosaic markings of dark narrow lines and spots render them almost invisible on the seabed and among corals.

The word Wobbegong is believed to originate from the Australian Aboriginal word for “shaggy beard”, referring to the weed-like whisker lobes surrounding their jaw, which act as sensory barbs and camouflage.

tasseled wobbegong

On 1 December 2016, a female Tasseled Wobbegong at S.E.A. Aquarium gave birth to our first litter of pups. A total of 31 pups were born over 6 weeks. All pups have survived to date and 16 of them are currently housed in the Sea Grass habitat.

Here’s a look at some of these adorable pups kept in the back-of-house area.

tasseled wobbegong
These 8-week old pups are about the size of an adult human palm. Adult Tasseled Wobbegongs can grow up to 1.8m.

Tasseled Wobbegongs are ambush predators that wait for prey like small fish to wander into range. They also use their tail as a lure, waving it back and forth to draw prey closer. When a prey is in range, they suck it into their jaws and swallow it whole.

——– Akira Yeo, Curator at S.E.A. Aquarium

tasseled wobbegong
Their tail doubles up as ‘bait’

Here’s a video by Discovery, showing how Tasseled Wobbegongs hunt in the wild.

And here’s a clip of our pups during feeding time where our aquarists handfeed them pieces of cut fish, squid and prawns. Check out how fast they snap up their food.

Though born in captivity, our Tasseled Wobbegong pups display natural hunting instincts. We have seen them waving their tail the same way they would in the wild to lure fishes.

——– Kenneth Kwang, aquarist at S.E.A. Aquarium who takes care of Tasseled Wobbegong pups together with fellow aquarists Sheryl Seet, Lin Jiahong and the Manta Ray team. He captured the above footage during one of the feeding sessions.

But with the pups looking almost identical, how do we ensure everyone gets fed?

Kenneth: “Once a pup is fed, we will place it in a basket submerged in water. We then feed it once more before proceeding to the next pup. After all the pups are fed, we will broadcast more food into the basket to encourage them to move about to feed before releasing them back into the tank.”

tasseled wobbegong
Every day during feeding time, our pups are placed inside a basket and handfed one by one.

Kenneth: “We have also noticed that our pups tend to cluster together when they are in the blue tank in the back-of-house area. An uncommon sight in the wild. Our hypothesis is that being ambush predators , they need to camouflage themselves. The only way to do so in the blue tank is to stick to one another. We are currently conducting some experiments to test our hypothesis, and will share our findings when it is ready.”

Here’s a clip by Kenneth showing how our pups typically look like in the blue tank:

Come meet these adorable masters of camouflage at the Sea Grass Habitat at S.E.A. Aquarium, located just after the touchpool.

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