Research is a very important part of ECOCEAN’s core objectives and we have been using a variety of techniques to collect data on whale shark movement and behaviour since 1996. There are five different systems that have been employed; i) Satellite tags, ii) Acoustic tags, iii) ‘Daily-diaries’, iv) ‘Crittercams’ and v) Pop-off Archival data logging tags (PAT tags).  It is expected that data from our research will be used to inform policy aimed at ensuring the long-term conservation of this threatened species. 

ECOCEAN lead scientist Brad Norman conducting research in the Ningaloo Marine Park with ECOCEAN North-west Liaison Manager Heath Bentley.

Whaleshark Research


Despite being the largest fish in the sea, questions about the whale shark’s biology and distribution remain unanswered. ECOCEAN’s aim is to join the dots and solve the mystery on this unique and threatened species.

Some of the questions we would like to answer:

  1. How many whale sharks visit the Ningaloo Coast every year?
  2. Where does this population of whale sharks migrate?
  3. How fast do whale sharks grow?
  4. Where and how often do whale sharks breed?
  5. Where are the critical feeding habitats for whale sharks?
  6. How long do whale sharks live for?
  7. How does tourism impact on whale sharks?
  8. Are there other industries that impact on whale sharks?
  9. Does whale shark hunting in other countries impact on the population found at Ningaloo?
  10. Where else are whale sharks found in Australia?

ECOCEAN will collaborate with many stakeholders (e.g. Scientists, Government agencies, Non-government organisations, Industry partners) to answer these questions.