An international research project has modified a NASA algorithm designed to examine star patterns to badyze the distinctive patterns of whale shark points.
More than 30,000 photos of tourism encounters with endangered species were sent to researchers by members of the public over many years. The scientists then badyzed the spots on the side of each whale shark to identify and track individuals.
The markings just behind the gills of the sharks and on their pectoral fin are completely unique, like a human fingerprint.
Technology inspired by NASA then allowed a scan of a photo to match the previous one.
Lead study author and research badociate at Murdoch University Brad Norman said they have now identified 6,000 individual whale sharks in 54 countries, giving scientists a set of data to better badyze and understand the species.
"This effort is helping us discover the mysteries of whale sharks and better understand their abundance, geographic range, behaviors , migration patterns and their favorite places on the planet, "he said in a statement.
Dr Norman, who is also the founder of a non-profit organization ECOCEAN, said that the use of tourist photographs can also shed light about if the sharks are Going back to certain areas:  "Involving citizen scientists in photographic identification also helps us understand how ecotourism activities can affect the appearance and rate of return of whale sharks.
"Perhaps there are ecotourism practices that are helping to guarantee the return of whale sharks that can be applied to other regions."
Men outnumber women
The number of whale sharks has decreased by 50% in the last 75 years, which has led to its state of conservation has become in danger last year.
Of the whale sharks identified in the latest research, 66 percent were men.
Researchers also identified 20 sites where whale sharks congregate, an increase of 13 identified before the project will begin.
These points include the Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia, the Atlantic coast of Mexico, Mozambique and the Philippines.
Dr. Norman said that observations of the whale shark population in these areas and more rare sightings in others suggest illegal fishing and lack of conservation may affect whale shark meetings.
The whale shark is the largest shark in the world's oceans, believed to grow up to 12 meters in length and live up to about 100 years.
Its main source of food is plankton and is not known to pose a threat to humans.  021]