Orectolobiformes – Carpet sharks
Adorned with intricate patterns, spots, or stripes that act as natural camouflage
Carpet sharks, part of a diverse group of elasmobranchs, exhibit several common features that distinguish them. These fascinating creatures share characteristics such as five-gill slits, two dorsal fins without spines, an anal fin, and a small mouth that doesn’t extend beyond their eyes. Notably, they possess specialized sensory barbels near their nostrils that assist in locating prey.
Within this diverse order, several well-known species capture the imagination of marine enthusiasts. Among them are the majestic whale shark, the striking zebra shark, the cryptic wobbegong, and the docile nurse shark. These carpet sharks exhibit significant variations in size, shape, coloration, and behavior, showcasing the rich diversity within the order.
What sets some of these species apart is their unique feeding strategy. Instead of actively pursuing their prey, they employ an ingenious method called suction feeding. By creating a vacuum-like suction with their mouths, they can capture unsuspecting prey, such as small fish or crustaceans, directly from the ocean floor. This remarkable adaptation illustrates the extraordinary versatility and adaptability of carpet sharks, making them a captivating subject of study and appreciation in the world of marine biology.