Call for public to help whale shark research
Citizen scientists are being asked to help gather valuable information on whale sharks. Picture: Brad Norman/ECOCEAN

Citizen scientists are being asked to help gather valuable information on whale sharks off the WA coast, with the Australian Museum recruiting volunteers to digitise logbooks from spotter planes used by tourism operators.

In collaboration with the ECOCEAN conservation group, the museum wants help to record the logbooks so scientists, conservation agencies and government departments can have an accurate record of sightings.

ECOCEAN director Brad Norman said the data was collected daily at Ningaloo Reef during the whale shark season.

"It's where that animal's been seen, what time of the day it's there, whether there are other whales sharks in close proximity," he said.

"It helps us to understand whether there are hot spots along the Ningaloo Reef."

Mr Norman said the data would be added to information from tour boats and an existing photo ID project that used tourists' photographs of whale sharks.

But he said the Australian Museum program meant people did not have to go to Ningaloo Reef to help out.

"They can be sitting in a lounge room in Canberra or in the Northern Territory or in Tasmania and really help us to start to put together this data and make sense of what's happening with the whale sharks," Mr Norman said.

Australian Museum team leader of the volunteer portal Paul Flemons said volunteers would help provide critical information on the vulnerable species.

He said more than 200 volunteers had already signed up but more were needed.

To take part in the project visit volunteer.ala.org.au.

The West Australian

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