Login

Underwater tourist photos help scientists track individual whale sharks, study finds

Whale shark Wired UK

Researchers have concluded that underwater photos crowdsourced from tourists can help them track individual whale sharks. A study that explored the reliability of photos posted to online sites like Flickr revealed that conversationalists were able to pick out an individual whale shark 85 percent of the time, making your vacations snapshots a more valuable asset than you might expect. In fact, experts are hoping their findings will prompt other scientists to seek out such underwater photos. Speaking to Wired, lead researcher Tim Davies said "in the Maldives in particular, where whale shark tourism is well established and very useful for collecting data from throughout the archipelago, our results suggest that whale shark monitoring effort should be focused on collecting tourist photographs."

For a photo to ultimately prove useful, it must capture the dots behind a shark's gills — a unique identifier that computers can use to tell one whale shark from another. So even if that shot of a family member may not seem like a keeper, it could prove invaluable to important conservation work.

The Verge
X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.