Stars to Sea Whale Shark Monitoring Program

Latest update May 9, 2019 Started on May 9, 2019
sea

Through a week-long field-based program, we seek to provide an incredible educational experience for volunteers who will learn how to correctly photograph whale sharks visiting Mexico and share their findings with the scientific community.

May 9, 2019
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Expedition Background

Gentle giants of the sea, whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) are the largest fish on Earth. Incredible travelers, they are capable of covering several thousand kilometers across the ocean in a single year! Despite their enormous size, whale sharks are filter-feeders making meals of some of the tiniest creatures on Earth – plankton.


Because whale sharks are docile and approachable, whale shark ecotourism is becoming a popular choice for travelers around the world. In Bahía de los Ángeles, Mexico, whale sharks visit the water en masse throughout the summer and fall months bringing many visitors to this region and serving as an important economic driver for the community.

The Vermilion Sea Institute has partnered with the Mexican non-profit organization – El Canto de la Tierra – to build upon its rich history of Baja sea and desert research by creating the Stars to Sea program. This educational program teaches participants how to take photos of the whale sharks visiting Bahia and add these to the global database at www.whaleshark.org.

The Wildbook for Whale Sharks project aims to combine innovative technology that applies spot pattern recognition algorithms – used by astronomers to recognize celestial patterns in the night sky – to identify individual whale sharks via their unique, behind-the-gill spots. Through a week-long field-based program in partnership with El Canto de la Tierra, VSI seeks to provide an incredible educational experience for volunteers who will learn how to correctly capture photographs of whale sharks visiting Bahía de los Ángeles, upload these photos to whaleshark.org, and help share the project findings with the local community and beyond.

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