Spot The Leopard Shark (STLS)- A research project
that uses photo identification for research
International Union for the Conservation of Nature
IUCN Red List of Endangered Species
Spot the Leopard Shark Thailand was launched on Koh Phi Phi Island, Thailand, in August 2013. Submitted photos and information will be used to address questions of how many leopard sharks there are in Thailand, which areas they use, how this changes over time, how long they live, etc. So every time you take a photo, you are also being a marine biologist and collecting data! Taking pictures of the Leopard (Zebra) sharks may seem pretty simple but these questions are important and timely for this species. Leopard sharks are classified as Endangered to Extinction on the IUCN Red List.
Spot the Leopard Shark Thailand is a joint venture between Thai researchers (Phuket Marine Biological Center) and Australian researchers (Dr. Christine Dudgeon, The University of Queensland) and the diving community of Thailand. Shark Guardian is pleased to help promote this project in Thailand. Please get involved, spread the word and contribute your photographs. And of course, if you identify a new shark to the database you get to name it!
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Shark Guardian has been assisting with this Leopard Shark Project since it was launched in 2013 by Dr. Christine Dudgeon from the University of Queensland. Shark Guardian regularly tours Thailand giving science-based talks to various audiences about the value of sharks to their ecosystem and describing their conservation concerns.
During these presentations Shark Guardian encourages divers and snorkelers to participate and contribute their observations and photographs to Spot the Leopard Shark. Working together with the lead researcher, regular updates are published and shared with the dive community to keep them updated on the progress of the project.
Elizabeth Ward-Sing from Shark Guardian (L) and Dr. Christine Dudgeon, Lead Researcher from STLS
IMPORTANT: Diving Code of Conduct
Please follow the Diving Code of Conduct when interacting with leopard sharks and taking photos:
Approach calmly and maintain good buoyancy control
Approach SLOWLY from the tail end
Rest on knees in sand if necessary and be aware of surrounding reef
Stay at least 3 m away from the shark
Always move around the tail end of shark
Be courteous to other divers and restrict your interaction time to 5 minutes when other groups are present
Avoid using excess flash
Limit yourself to 5 shots
Approach the shark from the head end
Block the shark's escape route at the head end
Brace against or stand on reef habitats to view or photograph shark
Touch the shark or chase them while swimming