Help us protect and study
the world's biggest fish!

Our work is possible with the generous support of:

How it works

The Wildbook for Whale Sharks 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 sighting data to learn more about these amazing creatures.

The Wildbook 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. You too can assist with whale shark research, by submitting photos and sighting data. The information you submit will be used in mark-recapture studies to help with the global conservation of this threatened species.

7804 identified whale sharks

36035 reported sightings

113 researchers and volunteers

Encounters around the world

How can I help?

If you are not on site, there are still other ways to get engaged

Adopt a Whale Shark

  • Support individual research programs in different regions
  • Receive email updates when we resight your adopted animal
  • Display your photo and a quote on the animal's page in our database
Learn more about adopting an individual animal in our study

Meet an adopter:Sarah Keartes

It's easy to think of sharks in terms of apex predators--that is, when we think "shark" we too often jump to white sharks, or bull sharks. It's important to remember that sharks are incredibly diverse and help to balance many different ecosystems within the ocean. Understanding more about them will help us protect biodiversity, and ensure a healthy future for not just the sharks, but the oceans. I have always loved sharks, and encourage people to take the time to see their many faces--get to know them!


Wildbook for Whale Sharks is maintained and developed by Jason Holmberg (Information Architect) with significant support and input from the research community. This site is a flagship project of Wild Me's Wildbook and IBEIS open source projects. Dr. Simon Pierce provides scientific oversight and guidance.