Satellite Tracking

Let’s solve a mystery …….

How far do whale sharks travel?

Whaleshark Research

How fast?

Where do they go when they move away from Ningaloo?

Where do they go to breed?

Do the big (mature) sharks follow a similar path to the juveniles?

That’s what we set out to find out in ECOCEAN’s ‘Whale Shark Race Around the World’ program.

And this is all with the help from schools and kids throughout Western Australia.



Register your school’s interest for the next ‘Race’ – and it’s sure to be BIG – set to get underway in 2017

Please send an email to for more information


As an overview ……

In 2017, ECOCEAN will deploy satellite tags on whale sharks in Ningaloo Marine Park. Each shark will be identified in the ECOCEAN photo-identification library, the ‘Wildbook for Whale Sharks’. The research will target large, mature whale sharks, and with the involvement of schools, may uncover whether or not older sharks and their younger counterparts embark on the same migration routes. This could solve the mystery of where the whale shark goes to breed!

It will cost the school, or a network $5 000 to have a tag put on a shark. From May to August 2017 ECOCEAN scientists will search for the perfect shark to tag for your school. The Race officially begins during National Science Week on Monday, 14 August 2017 and the tracks of the tagged sharks will be displayed on the ZoaTrack website and schools will able to track the journey of their whale shark.

Teachers and students will be able to use the ZoaTrack visualisation and analysis tools in their lessons and will have access to the ongoing tracking of the sharks.
Involvement in the race will support students and teachers to further develop their STEM capabilities, including: critical analysis and creative thinking and deepen their knowledge and understanding of the whale shark, the marine environment of Western Australia and scientific research. Teaching and learning resources developed by Statewide Services at the Department of Education are designed to support teachers and students to engage in innovative and interactive STEM learning activities.

In addition, ECOCEAN scientists will be available to deliver an online Saba session for participating schools to share information and video footage as well as an online link up direct from the field with each participating school.

Key dates

• Wednesday, 8 February……..Expressions of interest open
• Wednesday, 1 March…………Expressions of interest close
• Friday, 31 March………………Participating schools announced and payment due
• Monday, 12 June………………Project Launch
• Monday, 14 August……………Let the race begin!
• Monday, 28 August……………Race finishes
• Wednesday, 6 September…….FINISH LINE CELEBRATIONS

Interested schools please email for an Expression of Interest form which must be received by ECOCEAN by no later than 1 March 2017





Race #2 (2016)

It’s just begun …

In 2016, the ‘Race’ was set up between two schools local to the whale sharks of northwestern Australia i.e. Exmouth District High School and Carnarvon Community College.

Their sharks, A-907 and A-1310 (both males, approximately 7.5 m long), were tagged on Friday 8 August 2016 and so far they’re staying close to Ningaloo Reef.

…. take a look at early progress –


Stay tuned because they could soon be on the move!

Where will they go from here?!


Race #1 (2015)

Everything progressed swimmingly for the inaugural ‘Whale Shark Race Around the World’. ECOCEAN was at Ningaloo to get the ‘Race’  underway on August 3, 2015.

A-546 tag position on fin small

There was certainly lots of information about whale shark habits, their general biology, and their current conservation concerns discussed.

You can visit the ‘Race 1’ page for results (here) or download the App to your Android phone using this link (open it from your phone) or via the QR Code below:

QR Code - Ecocean Shark Race GeoMoby

So let the ‘Race’ begin!


Please take a look at our Facebook site / follow us on Instagram

The tracks of all the sharks can be viewed on the ZoaTrack site – see ECOCEAN’s Whale Shark Race Around the World thanks to Atlas of Living Australia




Race Diary

August 19:

4 out of 12 sharks being tracked in ECOCEAN’s Whale Shark Race Around the World have left the protection of Australia’s Exclusive Economic Zone:
A-788 (John Tonkin College), A-957 (Guildford Grammar School), A-1019 (South Fremantle Senior High School), A-1095 (Karratha Senior High School)
….. and another is within 10km of the ‘border’:
A-958 (Greenfields Primary School)
*** Good luck on your travels ……


August 18:

The results are in ….
To add to our earlier update, ‘pings’ were received yesterday from three sharks:
A-013, A-788 and A-1019.
This elevated A-1019 into overall 3rd place (distance measured from Race start point to end point).
A-957 went the furthest followed by A-919.
We hope you all had as much fun as we had.
This has provided great information to help unlock the mysteries of whale shark movements.
And it’s not over yet.
Keep following the ‘Race’ to see where the sharks travel over the coming months.
We hope to make the ‘Race’ (that you all pioneered) an annual event.
Move over Melbourne Cup!
Thanks again for all you support and involvement in the inaugural ‘Whale Shark Race Around the World’.

final tracks


August 17:

We’ll do a final update tonight.
But the penultimate results are in:
  • Greatest overall distance travelled: A-957 (~1700km)
  • Most westerly travelled shark: A-1041
  • Most northerly travelled shark: A-957
  • Most southerly travelled shark: A-666
  • Most easterly travelled shark: A-919
  • Shark with the greatest number of days pinged: A-1095 (10)
  • Shark with longest distance between start and end point: A-919 (~920km)
  • Shark which stayed closest to home (Ningaloo) during the ‘Race’: A-666 (~160km)
  • Shark which swam over the deepest water: A-957 (~5900m depth)
  • Sharks that travelled between 0-200km from Ningaloo: A-666
  • Sharks that travelled between 201-400km from Ningaloo: A-546, A-707, A-1041, A-1095
  • Sharks that travelled between 401-600km from Ningaloo: A-013, A-788, A-958, A-1019, A-1135
  • Sharks that travelled between 601-800km from Ningaloo: A-957
  • Sharks that travelled between 801-1000km from Ningaloo: A-919
  • Tagged shark with the longest history of returning to Ningaloo: A-013 was first seen at Ningaloo in 1996
  • Tagged shark new to Ningaloo in 2015: A-1041
  • Smallest shark tagged: A-1019 (measured at 4.4m on 16 June 2015)
  • Largest sharks tagged: A-788 and A-013 (estimated length of both is 9m)
Hope everyone has been enjoying this amazing ‘Race’ 🙂


August 14:

All 12 tags (sharks) have reported over the last two weeks.

Below are the locations of their latest pings as of August 14.

Really cool!

Race update - latest position of all sharks as at 140815












August 10:

The sharks are well and truly ‘racing’ and we’re getting fantastic data so far.
As expected, some sharks have only pinged every now and again – but over the next few months (and possibly over the year) we will learn so much more about whale shark movements when they leave Ningaloo.
As an update, the distance travelled by each of the Race ‘contestants’ is listed below.
Stay tuned 🙂
A-013 (~429 km)
A-1019 (~111 km)
A-1041 (~394 km)
A-1095 (~734 km)
A-1135 (~498 km)
A-546 (~330 km)
A-666 (~439 km)
A-707 (~452 km)
A-788 (~208 km)
A-919 (~391 km)
A-957 (~1649 km)
A-958 (~29 km)


August 3:

AND WE ARE RACING!!!! The Whale Shark Race Around the World starts TODAY!!! We have 12 whale sharks and hundreds of excited school kids (and teachers!) participating. This program is a joint initiative with the WA Department of Education, promoting marine research, education and conservation. The kids have received their program packs, and now are also able to track their whale shark around the world!

Lets see where the sharks take us! You can follow the race here!


August 2:

All the sharks have been tagged, and a tracking system has been set up on OzTrack for everyone to visually monitor where the whale sharks swim.


July 31:

The 12th whale shark has been tagged for the Race. A 9m male, A-013, first sighted at Ningaloo in 1996, was successfully tagged and is the latest entrant into the Race.


July 26:

ECOCEAN scientists have been very busy. We have tagged another 5 whale sharks for the Race around the World Program!



July 23:

The first male shark, A-957, has been tagged and is ready to race!


July 21:

The Race Around the World t-shirts have been finalised and are ordered! Participating schools and kids should have their packs within the next 2 weeks!


July 20:

The first 2 satellite tags have been deployed at Ningaloo!!Two female sharks A-666 and A-1135 are now part of the race. Check out our library to see more stats on each tagged shark.


June 26:

All of the schools involved have been invited to purchase a souvenir pack to remember this project by. Orders have closed and over 200 packs have been purchased! Participants will receive a custom designed t-shirt, ECOCEAN brochure and sticker, and a CD of high quality images for their own use. For the super enthusiastic, our second choice of pack also includes one of our whale shark plush toys! Lets just say the kids are now sitting on the edge of their seats awaiting their orders to arrive!!

RAW shirt



Past satellite tracking projects from 2010-2014 produced the data shown below, of whale sharks travelling thousands of kilometers, north, south and west of Ningaloo. The Race Around the World Program is going to build on this data, and hopefully see more sharks travel even further!

When the program starts, updates will be posted here, but there will also be data uploaded and mapped on zoaTrack, which can be viewed here



Schools Involved


Project sponsors

MG Kailis logoexmouth-cape-holiday-park-aspen-parks-9442243









Exmouth Cape Tourist Park


Latest media to date:

19 August 2015

17 August 2015

14 August 2015

11 August 2015

3 August 2015 b (TV story)

3 August 2015 a

15 May 2015

30 April 2015

21 April 2015