Tags: Taxonomy,  Carpet Sharks,  Whale Shark 

Carpet Sharks

Order: Orectolobiformes

 Carpet sharks derive their name from both their carpet lifestyle - some species live on the ocean floor - and their beautiful and sometimes ornate coloration. Wobbegong sharks typify this description because of their flattened body that is perfectly camouflaged for their preferred habitat, matching sand, coral and rocky reefs. They have tassels, or dermal flaps, around the front of their faces, giving them a whimsical look.  But don't be fooled, they are powerful predators and don't take kindly to being trodden on by swimmers!

Some species have dark spot patterns or 'saddles' the length of their bodies and 'collars' of dark bands around the gills. The adult Zebra shark sounds like it was misnamed because of the delicate pattern of spots, but it is the young Zebra sharks that dons the stripes that earned their name. Some species have strong pectoral fins that help them amble around, almost like walking. These sharks are most diverse in the Indo-Pacific: the majority of the species are found there and nowhere else.


Photo Gallery

Tassels and striking coloration make Carpet Sharks some of the most unique fish in the sea

Characteristics of Carpet Sharks

# of Species


Body shape

Many flattened, others rounded

Mouth position

Short mouth, underneath, ends before eyes

Anal fin


Dorsal Fin


Fin spines


# of Gill slits



Some oviparous; others ovoviviparous

Unique qualities

Specialized barbels; most species have a long upper lobe of their caudal fin that stretches in line with their body


Marine, most bottom dwelling in shallow to moderately deep warm waters; temperate to tropical zones; Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans; Except for Whale Shark, which lives mostly at the surface in warm oceans.


Bottom-dwelling fish, shrimp, squid, octopus, crabs, sea snails, lobster, sea urchins, and coral; Except for Whale Shark, which filters plankton and small krill, squid.

The 39 Species of Carpet Shark


Common Name

 Family Parascylliidae - Collared Carpetsharks

Cirrhoscyllium expolitum

Barbelthroat Carpetshark

Cirrhoscyllium formosanum

Taiwan Saddled Carpetshark

Cirrhoscyllium japonicum

Saddled Carpetshark

Parascyllium collarae

Collared Carpetshark

Parascyllium ferrugineum

Rusty Carpetshark

Parascyllium sparsimaculatum

Ginger Carpetshark

Parascyllium variolatum

Necklace Carpetshark


Family Brachaeluridae - Blind Sharks

Brachaelurus waddi

Blind Shark

Heteroscyllium colcloughi

Bluegrey Carpetshark


Family Orectolobidae - Wobbegongs

Eucrossorhinus dasypogon

Tasselled Wobbegong

Orectolobus floridus

Floral Banded Wobbegong

Orectolobus halei

Gulf Wobbegong

Orectolobus hutchinsi

Western Wobbegong

Orectolobus japonicus

Japanese Wobbegong

Orectolobus maculatus

Spotted Wobbegong

Orectolobus ornatus

Ornate Wobbegong

Orectolobus parvimaculatus

Dwarf Spotted Wobbegong

Orectolobus wardi

Northern Wobbegong

Orectolobus sp.

False Cobbler Wobbegong (Western Australia)

Sutorectus tentaculatus

Cobbler Wobbegong


Family Hemiscylliidae - Bamboo Sharks

Chiloscyllium arabicum

Arabian Carpetshark

Chiloscyllium burmensis

Burmese Bambooshark

Chiloscyllium griseum

Grey Bambooshark

Chiloscyllium hasselti

Indonesian Bambooshark

Chiloscyllium indicum

Slender Bambooshark

Chiloscyllium plagiosum

Whitespotted Bambooshark

Chiloscyllium punctatum

Brownbanded Bambooshark

Hemiscyllium freycineti

Indonesian Speckled Carpetshark

Hemiscyllium hallstromi

Papuan Epaulette Shark

Hemiscyllium ocellatum

Epaulette Shark

Hemiscyllium strahani

Hooded Carpetshark

Hemiscyllium trispeculare

Speckled Carpetshark

Hemiscyllium sp.

Seychelles Carpetshark

Hemiscyllium sp.

(Papua New Guinea)


Family Ginglymostomatidae - Nurse Sharks

Ginglymostoma cirratum

Nurse Shark

Nebrius ferrigineus

Tawny Nurse Shark

Pseudoginglymostoma brevicaudata

Shorttail Nurse Shark


Family Stegostomatidae - Zebra Shark

Stegostoma fasciatum

Zebra Shark


Family Rhincodontidae - Whale Shark

Rhincodon typus

Whale Shark


Red indicates inclusion on the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species.