ECOCEAN (Australia) is a non-government, not-for-profit organization based in Western Australia working towards scientific research,  education  and conservation  of the marine environment. ECOCEAN (Australia) was founded by marine and conservation biologist Brad Norman who also helped establish the partner organisation ECOCEAN (USA). ECOCEAN’s flagship species is the iconic yet threatened whale shark (Rhincodon typus).

ECOCEAN established the largest global monitoring program for whale sharks and has since identified 4000+ individuals from over 50 countries


ECOCEAN nominated the whale shark to be listed as vulnerable and migratory in Australia under the EPBC Act in 2001


ECOCEAN prepared a report for the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), resulting in the conservation status of the whale shark being upgraded from ‘data deficient’ to ‘vulnerable to extinction’ in 2000


ECOCEAN assisted with the successful nomination of the whale shark to be listed under the UN’s Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in 2002


ECOCEAN has official non-government organization observer status on the UN’s Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) and attended all three meetings, the outcome of which was an International Memorandum of Understanding between over 100 countries for the conservation of migratory sharks


ECOCEAN prepared the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) ‘Best Practice’ whale shark ecotourism guidelines in 2007


ECOCEAN has received the following awards:


•    National Geographic Ocean Hero 2010

•    WA Science Awards Outreach Program of the Year 2009

•    National Geographic Emerging Explorer 2008

•    Peter Benchley Shark Conservation Award 2007

•    Rolex Awards for Enterprise 2006

Great Australian video:


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A large part of ECOCEAN’s focus has been the whale shark population found off the Ningaloo coast in northwest Western Australia, where ECOCEAN has been undertaking a study since 1995. Our work has also been successful in collecting other Australian (and global) sightings of whale sharks for inclusion in the largest database of its kind; the on-line facility known as the ECOCEAN Whale Shark Photo-identification Library. ECOCEAN (Australia) works hand in hand with its partner group ECOCEAN (USA)to promote and maintain this ‘citizen science’ project to assist efforts to ensure the long-term conservation of this unique and threatened species.

ECOCEAN staff and volunteers spend at least 4 months every year in the field, based in Exmouth, continuing our research and collecting important data on the biology and behavior of the whale shark. The remainder of the year is spent collating our field data, raising the necessary resources to continue the organization, and increasing community awareness for the whale shark and the marine environment in general through various education outreach programs.

ECOCEAN is an affiliate group of the Conservation Council of Western Australia (CCWA). CCWA is Western Australia’s peak non-government environment group.

Read more About us here.