Wildbook for Whale Sharks (originally known as the ECOCEAN Whale Shark Photo-identification Library) is the largest monitoring program of the species 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.
There are currently over 50,000 photos in the Library of whale sharks encountered at various locations around the world. It 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.
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.