In preparation for a study on population structure of the whale shark (Rhincodon typus), nine species-specific polymorphic microsatellite DNA markers were developed. An initial screening of 50 individuals from Holbox Island, Mexico found all nine loci to be polymorphic, with two to 17 alleles observed per locus. Observed and expected heterozygosity per locus ranged from 0.200 to 0.826 and from 0.213 to 0.857, respectively. Neither statistically significant deviations from Hardy–Weinberg expectations nor statistically significant linkage disequilibrium between loci were observed. These microsatellite loci appear suitable for examining population structure, kinship assessment and other applications.