17/18 Moo 1, Koh Tao Suratthani, 84360 Thailand         Info @ Big Blue Conservation        +66 (0) 077 456 179

Big Blue Conservation - Ecocean

Despite being our gentlest giant and most treasured big fish on Koh Tao, the whale shark is classed as 'vulnerable to extinction' and although protected in Thai waters, they are still commonly hunted and killed for their fins and meat in several of the countries surrounding Thailand. It is therefore important that we learn as much about this species now so that we can work to protect it in the future. Did you know that a whale shark can be identified by their unique spot patterning? Much like a human fingerprint, a photograph taken of the specific spot patterning behind the gills above the fin can be used to identify and subsequently monitor these behemoths of the deep. Using NASA hubble technology to map the stars, the unique pattern-matching identification was confirmed by Brad Norman, founder of ECOCEAN, the global whale shark conservation organisation. Through contribution from scientists and the public, their non-invasive international monitoring project has answered many of our questions about the mysterious big beauty. So if you are ever lucky enough to encounter a whale shark, you can submit your photographs into ECOCEAN's online database (www.whaleshark.org) and personally contribute to their preservation. After all, how can we ever have enough whale sharks visiting Koh Tao?
Any member of the public can photo-tag whale sharks using the ECOCEAN photo-identification library, and with the help of dive operators and ecotourists more than 3200 whale sharks have been logged and identified worldwide. Better still, if a shark you have uploaded is re-sighted, you will get an email letting you know. That's got to be the biggest pen-pal ever!
Steps for photographing a whale shark:

  • When you see a whale shark, stay 3 meters away from its body, 5 meters away from its tail.
  • Position yourself perpendicular to just behind its left or right hand side fin
  • If the shark has any noticeable scars, take photos of that too!!
  • Submit you photos here or at www.whaleshark.org and you will receive an email back about the history or the whale shark you saw, or even if you have been the first to sight it!