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Spot The Leopard Shark - 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!


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

STEP ONE: While diving or snorkeling get the perfect ID shot... 

Area between the gills and 1st dorsal fin

Left side of the shark is preferred.

If possible get both left and right sides

STEP TWO: Send your Photo ID to STLS...

  • Upload as a message on the Spot The Leopard Shark Facebook Page

  • Include date and location (observation site)

  • Record observations to eOceans

  • Encourage others to support STLS and record all activity observations to eOcean

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