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.

8411 identified whale sharks

38699 reported sightings

5200 citizen scientists

132 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:Mark Leichnitz

I've been diving for over 25 years and have witnessed the horrifying degradation of our oceans. I love whale sharks and this one was the biggest that I've ever had the awesome pleasure to spend 45 minutes with. I've decided to adopt the fish and name him/her "Sugar". I feel it's important for divers to support whale shark research and conservation for a variety of reasons. One important reason is that I have encountered two whale sharks with seriously injured tail fins - cut by boat propellors - a function of the tourism industry's sometimes reckless exploitation. Sugar was one of a group of five whale sharks that seemed to be begging for shrimp at a tourist site


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.