IFAW Dubai: At last, Atlantis Hotel Releases Whale Shark
The Atlantis Hotel in Dubai recently announced that ‘Sammy’ a 13-foot female whale shark had been released back to the ocean after spending months in captivity. The International Fund for Animal Welfare is celebrating the news after a long-fought campaign to free the threatened shark.
Sammy was allegedly ‘rescued’ from shallow waters in the Persian Gulf in 2008 and placed inside a water tank in the hotel’s lobby where it swam in circles for 18 months.
“We are very pleased to hear that Sammy is now back where she belongs”, said Azzedine Downes, Vice President for IFAW. “It is doubtful that an enclosed tank of any size is large enough to allow such a fish to express its normal behavior, no matter how lifelike the artificial habitat may be.”
Whale sharks, the world’s largest living fish species, are listed as a ‘vulnerable’ in the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List with a declining population trend. The gentle, highly migratory plankton feeders are accustomed to travelling vast distances to feed, and regularly dive to 3,000 feet or more.