Citizen-Scientists Help Researchers Better Understand Endangered Whale Sharks
New information about whale shark behavior, biology, and ecology is being released today in the scientific journal BioScience. The 22 year long citizen-science effort has given researchers a whole new understanding of the global behavior of endangered whale sharks. We’re joined by one of those researchers. Dr. Robert Hueter is a Senior Scientist and Director of the Center for Shark Research, and the Perry W. Gilbert Chair in Shark Research, at Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium in Sarasota.
The project, called Wildbook for Whale Sharks, invites divers, boaters, and ecotourists to submit photos of whale sharks’ unique spot patterns to an online database, helping scientists identify individual animals. The effort has helped describe 20 hotspots for whale sharks around the globe and has expanded scientists’ understanding of these mysterious sharks’ lives.