White Tip Reef Shark
Photo Identification Project

White Tip Reef Shark

Following the success of photo identification research on whale sharks, grey nurse sharks and manta rays, we are evaluating whether similar methodologies can be applied to other species with less distinct markings. We are initially focusing our efforts on white tip reef sharks (Triaenodon obesus), but depending on available data, we intend to expand the program to other species of concern.

White Tip reef SharkWhitetip Reef Sharks have a widespread distribution in tropical and subtropical Indian and Pacific Oceans. As this species is commonly found between 10–40 m around coastal reefs, they are easily accessible to recreational divers making them an ideal focus species for Citizen Science.

Due to the widespread expansion of fishing in the past 20 years, the abundance of this species has plummeted. White tip reef sharks are currently recognized by the IUCN as Near Threatened, but due to their restricted habitat, depth range, small litter size and moderately late age at maturity it is though that this species may soon become threatened.

We are interested in obtaining photos of white tip reef sharks from around the world to allow the identification of individual sharks using an automated algorithm, which matches the unique spot patterning of new entries to our existing database. We are specifically interested in photos that show the sharks from the side so we can identify the distinct spot patterns, which are unique to each individual.

White Tip reef Shark

From this data, we hope to ultimately be able use sightings to determine the abundance, movements, and population structure of white tip reef sharks across the globe. This information will help to assess their conservation status and manage wild populations more effectively.

You can help by submitting your shark sightings to SharkBase.