Australian scientist tracks whale sharks using NASA algorithm

An algorithm developed by NASA to study star charts has been used by an Australian marine scientist to track and identify whale sharks. The extensive international research project by Murdoch University applied the technology by the American space agency to examine the distinctive spots that appear on whale sharks, reports Xinhua news agency.

This effort is helping us to uncover the mysteries of whale sharks and better understand their abundance, geographic range, behaviours, migration patterns and their favourite places on the planet. By using the NASA algorithm, researchers have been able to examine photographs from around the globe and identify where each individual whale shark came from.

Over the course of two decades, lead scientist Brad Norman amassed around 30,000 photos of the awe-inspiring creatures, sent from “citizen scientists” across 54 countries. So far the project has helped uncover 20 whale shark aggregation sites, an increase from 13 when the project began. The main hotspots are located at the Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia, the Atlantic coast of Mexico, Mozambique and the Philippines.

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