Photo-ID Library

The Wildbook for Whale Sharks (founded as the ECOCEAN Whale Shark Photo-identification Library) is the largest whale shark monitoring program in the world. It uses photos of the skin patterning of individual whale sharks to monitor population numbers, track their movements and compare if the same shark has been seen in the area before.

Cutting-edge software supports rapid identification using pattern recognition and photo management tools. The Library is maintained and used by marine biologists to collect and analyse whale shark encounter data to learn more about these amazing creatures.


Whale Sharks on National Geographic

The Library is available for people to access around the world, so any shark sighting can be reported into the Library as an encounter. We have actively set up partnerships for this citizen science program in Indonesia, Mexico, Mozambique, Seychelles, Maldives, Galapagos, Belize, Honduras and Philippines, with many other countries interested in being involved. There are currently over 50,000 photos in the Library of whale sharks encountered at various locations around the world.

ECOCEAN (Australia) works hand in hand with its partner group WildMe (USA) to promote uptake of Wildbook. Click HERE to see all data stored in the Library (all encounters, including those from Australia are stored here).

How to become a Shark Researcher!

Brad Norman collects a photo-id of a whale shark at Ningaloo. Photo courtesy of Kurt Amsler, Rolex Awards.

You don’t need a big fancy camera or a degree to help us unlock the secrets of the whale sharks- anyone can be a citizen scientist for ECOCEAN

You can assist with whale shark research and become a ‘citizen scientist’  – by submitting photos and sighting information. The information you submit will be used in mark-recapture studies to help with the global conservation of this threatened species.


How to take the perfect picture

Wildbook uses a specific and unique identification process. The area for analysis is behind the gills and above the pectoral fin. The spots are unique to each individual whale shark, rather like a fingerprint.


This is what I need to do to become a whale shark citizen scientist – click on the link to be taken to Wild Book for Whale sharks and learn how to take the best identification photograph.

Also see the ECOCEAN Whale Shark Photo identification UNEP MANUAL


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