Bottom-Dwelling Sharks | JONATHAN BIRD’S BLUE WORLD

Bottom-Dwelling Sharks | JONATHAN BIRD’S BLUE WORLD

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Next on Jonathan Bird’s Blue World, weird sharks that live on the ocean floor! Hi, I’m Jonathan Bird and
welcome to my world! ( ♪ music ) This is a fearsome predator. It
looks like a blob, or perhaps
an algae-covered rock. But it’s a shark, blending into
the sea floor, waiting for
small fish to come within striking range. The shark is
called a Wobbegong, and I have
come all the way to Australia to find this unusual fish. It’s a beautiful morning in the
Gold Coast region of southern
Queensland, Australia, and Palm Beach Dive center is
putting their boat in the water. I load my gear while the crew
prepares scuba tanks. The divemaster is my good
friend Glen Holmes who grew up
here. I met him ten years ago in the Caribbean, and he
promised that if I flew all the
way to Australia, he would show me some very cool
Wobbegongs. So here I am! We pull away from the dock and
head out to sea. We’re heading out to a dive
site called Julian Rocks in
search of Wobbegongs. Captain Herb is driving the boat and we
have about hour to get there. We arrive at a small desolate
island—barely more than a
rock–and start getting ready. Glenn has been diving here for
20 years and he knows where the
sharks are. I suit up and prepare myself for chilly water! Well, lets go see if we can
find a Wobbegong! I go over the side and follow
Glenn as we search for
Wobbegongs. This region is right at the
edge of the tropics, so there
isn’t much coral. The bottom is covered mostly in seaweed and
rocks. Under an overhang I find my
first Wobbegong shark. It’s a
big Ornate Wobbegong, almost as long as me! Wobbegong sharks have adapted
to live camouflaged on the
bottom, rarely moving a muscle
until a meal-sized fish comes into
range. It’s called an ambush
predator because it waits for the prey to come within
striking range and then lunges
for it, rather than trying to chase prey around. If any of
those fish above its head get
too close, they will get gulped down! Nearby, A Spotted Wobbegong
tries to get comfortable. Even
though there are millions of
tiny silver fish swarming above its head,
this Wobbegong isn’t feeding.
It’s stuffed. Every Wobbegong here has been gorging itself
for days. They can barely move. Moving out into deeper water, I
find several Sand Tiger sharks,
often called Grey Nurse sharks in Australia. These
sharks look and act a lot more
like a typical shark. They let me get pretty close
for some pictures. Not too long ago, people
thought all sharks had to keep
swimming like the sand tiger, to keep water moving over their
gills. For some species, like the
hammerhead, this is true.
Hammerheads must keep swimming
at all times or they’ll drown.
They never rest on the bottom. But many species of sharks
sometimes stop swimming and
rest on the bottom. Here a Lemon shark is taking a break on the
sand, gulping water through its
mouth to ventilate its gills. Here’s a pair of Nurse sharks,
common in the Caribbean, also
resting on the sand. They’re not in the mood to socialize.
As I approach, they swim off. Wobbegongs on the other hand,
spend their entire lives on the
bottom, patiently waiting for prey. They very rarely swim
because it gives away their
position. Although there are more than
400 species of sharks, you
might be surprised to learn that a huge number of them look
nothing like the typical
predator most of us associate
with sharks, like these Caribbean
reef sharks. Of course, the Wobbegong look
nothing like a reef shark. In 2006, a new species of
bottom-dwelling shark was
discovered in Indonesia. It
belongs to a group of sharks called
epaulette sharks. What made
this one different is the fact
that it actually walks along the
bottom on its fins, so they
called it the Walking shark. Cameraman Pierre and I charter
a traditional Indonesian Pinisi
and set off to a remote region of Indonesia to find
this elusive shark! As the sun sets, we board the
inflatable boat and head to the
dive site. I’ve come to a remote reef in
Papua, Indonesia, to find a
really weird shark! The walking shark is usually
only found at night. So Pierre
and I search the reef in the dark after sunset. It takes a while, but we find
the little shark. It doesn’t
like our lights at all, and
getting any decent shots of it proves
difficult. But you can see how
it walks on its fins! Not exactly a fearsome
predator. This little shark
hides from us in the reef. The next day, I suit up and
roll off the inflatable boat
again. This time we’re
searching the reef for another Wobbegong. The most common Wobbegong on
Indonesian reefs is called the
tasseled Wobbegong. Its tassels located around the edge of its
head allow it to blend in to
the bottom really well by disguising its shape. On a typical reef, this shark
blends right in! It’s very confident in its
camouflage and won’t move, even
if I get really close. The Wobbegong has a clever way
of breathing. Instead of
gulping water in through its
mouth, it has a set of spiracles,
almost like nostrils, right in
front of the gills. Water goes
in through the spiracles, and then
back out through the gills.
It’s an adaptation for a shark that spends a lot of time flat
on the bottom. So sharks are a diverse group
of animals, and they don’t all
look the same. The walking shark and
Wobbegong are all examples of the amazing
kinds of bottom-dwelling sharks. ( ♪ music )

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