Under the “Patreon” scheme’s wide-ranging payment plans, donors are promised “unprecedented access” to the MMF team’s latest findings prior to publication. They will also be able to follow researchers via livestreams and regular updates, and have priority access to join MMF expeditions to locations such as Galapagos or Komodo National Park.

There are five tiers of patron and levels of access - from “Penguins” paying US $3 or more a month; through “Sea Turtles” ($9); “Manta Rays”, who can adopt a whale shark ($49); “Whale Sharks”, who can name one ($99); and “Double Whale Sharks”.

The latter will be expected to contribute around $2400 a year or more (they merit a personal acknowledgment on the team’s publications).

“Our shark research and conservation work, underway since 2005, has been getting spectacular results,” said Dr Pierce. “We’ve had amazing public support. I’m hugely proud of the work we’ve done to date.

“Funding these efforts, though, has been an ongoing struggle. So we’re now building a community of supporters that share our desire to save Earth’s largest fish.

“You'll be joining forces with a small, dedicated team of expert researchers that are working every day to make the world a better place. You'll get personal updates from global leaders in marine biology and conservation, and you'll be helping to save the world's amazing marine wildlife.

“If you’re able to help, we'll be super-grateful. The whale sharks will be freakin' stoked.”

Details here.