Whale Sharks are slow-moving, filter-feeding sharks, part of the order Orectolobiformes, otherwise known as Carpet sharks. They also hold the record for the largest non-mammalian vertebrate, with an adult able to grow as large as 12 meters in length, weighing approximately 21 tonnes. Despite their size and gentle nature, they are considered critically endangered, becoming another victim to global shark catch for the purpose of shark fin soup.
With their numbers in constant decline, it is a great privilege to swim in the presence of a whale shark, and when doing so you can help with keeping track of local populations. Even helping to identify and then track new individuals. Whale Sharks can be distinguished by the dotted pattern across their body and that pattern is the same from juvenile to adult. So by taking a level picture of (ideally) the left side of the animal, between the pectoral fin and dorsal fin, we can use this as a unique identification, similar to how we use fingerprints to identify human individuals.
For more information on taking part in Whale shark ID or to contribute your pictures to the database, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or login to https://www.whaleshark.org/