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Photo: NASA
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Updated 05/03/2016
Presented by 501c3 non-profit Wild Me
Participation fee $0
Expenses $0
Spend the time outdoors
Location anywhere
Appropriate for kids yes
Teaching materials no


Required Gear:

computer


Wildbook for Whale Sharks


The ECOCEAN citizen science program allows any member of the com
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  • Wildbook for Whale Sharks

The ECOCEAN citizen science program allows any member of the community to be involved in collecting important identification data on whale sharks. Citizen scientists across the world can take a photo of the spot patterns on the skin of a whale shark and enter the photo into the ECOCEAN Whale Shark Photo-identification Library. ECOCEAN will then use this photo as a way to identify the whale shark, determine their movements and if they have been seen in the same area before.

Since 2000, ECOCEAN has been providing whale shark tourism operators in Ningaloo with ‘how to be a whale shark ‘citizen scientist’ brochures’ for distribution to eco-tourists on their boat guests (in excess of 15,000 tourists visit Ningaloo each year). As a result of this initiative thousands of photos of whale sharks have been submitted to the ECOCEAN Whale Shark Photo-identification Library. Interestingly, 2/3 of the whale shark sightings are of whale sharks that have been seen at Ningaloo before.

The ECOCEAN Whale Shark Photo-identification 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. The Library currently holds almost 40,000 photos and has received submissions from people who have photographed whale sharks in 46 different countries.

Our citizen science project provides huge potential to increase the interest in science and conservation amongst community members using the unique combination of a flagship species (whale sharks) and the latest technology (the on-line data collection system used within the ECOCEAN Whale Shark Photo-identification Library). It also provides the opportunity and skills for community to be involved in the natural resource management of their local area. ECOCEAN believes that the combination of awareness raising and capacity building among our community and, in particular, youth is a vital part of our marine environment’s future.




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