We've seen enough amorous altercations to know that shark sex can be pretty rough (Exhibit A), and this pair of spotted wobbegongs off Australia’s Gold Coast just added to the evidence.

Divers recently filmed the female wobbegong (or carpet shark) fighting off the aggressive advances of a mate-seeking male, who latches onto her gills. The duo twists and tussles before the female eventually manages to break free, making her intentions clear by swimming away: sorry, Mr Wobbegong, she’s just not that into you. 

Although the aggressive display might look intense, it's not unusual. Like other species of sharks, male wobbegongs will bite down on the female during sex, likely to ensure that the mating pair sticks together during reproduction. Research has shown that female sharks tend to have thicker skin than males – and it's easy to see why they might need it. 

Of course, gnawing on a lady wobbegong's flank probably isn't going to get this male any closer to his goal. It's likely that the shark was actually aiming for the female's fin, so he could position himself close enough to impregnate her.

And if you thought biting your mate was odd, here comes the really weird bit: sharks have two reproductive organs. Known as claspers, the "penises" are actually extensions of the pelvic fins (the paired fins located on the shark's underside). There are two of them simply because there are two pelvic fins to begin with. Grooves within these claspers help channel semen where it needs to go, and the sharks tend to bite the side opposite to the one they intend to "dock" on. 

So what the heck is a wobbegong anyway? These nocturnal, bottom-dwelling sharks spend their days resting along the seabed, feeding on invertebrates like crabs, lobsters and octopuses. They're also known for their impressive camouflage skills – just ask the unsuspecting swimmers who sometimes step on them by mistake. 

And just in case you thought the wobbegong's quirky mating habits were the height of reproductive weirdness in the ocean depths, take a look at the detachable, free-swimming "penis" of the paper nautilus.


Header image: Palo