A recent UK study shows that underwater pictures posted by tourists and amateur photographers on social media based websites sites can help marine biologists track the movements of whale sharks, the world’s largest fish. How is this possible? Computer programs can identify sharks by the unique pattern of spots behind their gills shown on pictures or videos. This source of data is used to help build an understanding of the whale shark population and trace their life history, relationships, and geographic distribution.
This new method of crowdsourcing and data mining puts endless animal images floating around the web to good use. The value of amateur snapshots in the tracking whale sharks have been measured and proven to be 85% successful. It saves conservationists time and money devoted to diving and photo assignments, which means more time for research, which ultimately bodes well for the whale shark.
If you have any whale shark pictures from your trips, you can assist researchers in monitoring whale shark by uploading your shark photos to GR8-White Facebook page and we will submit them to the Ecoocean monitoring project which collects information and tracks whale sharks!