ECOCEAN Whale Shark Identification Project

Introducing the ECOCEAN Whale Shark Photo-identification Library

The ECOCEAN Whale Shark Photo-identification Library is a visual database of Whale Shark (Rhincodon Typus) encounters and of individually catalogued Whale Sharks. The library is maintained and used by marine biologists to collect and analyze whale shark encounter data to learn more about these amazing creatures.

The Library uses photographs of the skin patterning behind the gills of each shark and any scars to distinguish between individual animals. Cutting-edge software supports rapid identification using pattern recognition and photo management tools.

Ecocean Whale Shark Identification ProjectEcocean Whale Shark Identification Project Key Identification Area
The critical zone for successful mapping of the spot pattern on an individual Whale Shark is this rectangular area from the gills, to behind the pectoral (side) fin. This zone may be either the left or right side of the body (preferably both), however it is the left side which is most crucial, as it is this side which is used as the datum for each individual. Photographs from any other position are also of interest, particularly any abnormalities such as scars, cuts, etc.

You too can assist with Whale Shark research - 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.

  • 28000+ photos collected
  • 11000+ whale shark reports
  • 2300+ data contributors
  • 2300+ whale sharks collaboratively tagged
  • 365 research days/year

Please check out the link to the Ecocean Whale Shark Project at: for information on how to get involved, or submit your photographs directly.

We have dedicated a section in our gallery to some of the individual Whale Sharks sighted in local waters and subsequently identified via the Ecocean project (all photographs added with the prior consent of the photographer).

Alternatively, if you have any information, or photographs regarding Whale Shark encounters in Thailand you can contact:

  • Alan Duncan
  • The Dive Inn
  • Chaloklum Village
  • Koh Phangan
  • Thailand
  • email: