Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Shark Release

We went down to Collaroy Beach two weeks ago and witnessed the release of four young Wobeggong Sharks. It's all part of Project Wobbegong:
With shark populations collapsing worldwide and local wobbegong numbers in decline, the juveniles are part of a research program investigating whether sharks bred in captivity can thrive in the wild.

The joint venture between Sydney Aquarium and Macquarie University, called Project Wobbegong, is already a success, with 12 out of 17 individuals released setting up home in the area or returning on a regular basis.
A crowd gathered on the beach, waiting for the sharks, including camera crews.

And divers:

The shark truck finally arrived. I snapped a shot of the shark buckets:

The crew pulled one of the buckets out, and we get a little video, and some info on the sharks. You can also hear the caw of the Australian crow, which never ceases to crack me up:

Look at that pattern:

And the crazy release, during which I say "WOE be gone" - it's "WAH be gong."

Wobbegongs are flat, almost like catfish, and have supreme camoflage, which they use to lie in wait for prey. (They're also known as "carpet sharks.") They can grow to more than three meters, or about ten feet in length, can live up to thirty years, and are mostly harmless: they'll only bite if they've been severely provoked. These little guys are just over three  years old, and about 60 centimeters or about two feet long. There are actually eleven different species of Wobbegong shark, and I don't know which one these are, though I'm pretty sure they're Spotted Wobbegongs (Orectolobus maculatus), which are the largest of the bunch.

Wobbegong, according to some sources, means "shaggy beard" in an Aussie Aboriginal language.

On the way home, pelican arse:

And in the Collaroy Surf Club for a fish lunch, a message to employees from management:

And wo, look at this Wobbegong species. Crazy.