Atlantis is holding Shark Awareness Week, to bring you closer to one of the most fascinating and misunderstood species of the sea. Among the activities is a visit by shark experts Mike Rutzen and Rima Jabado. Mike will be on hand at the shark-themed Lost Chambers Family Fun Day this Friday, 4 May to answer your questions and tell some amazing shark tales. Both he and Rima will be conducting an exciting talk about interacting with sharks and shark conservation on Saturday 5 May at 7pm at the Spice Ballroom at Atlantis, The Palm. Places are limited, so please book on +971 4 426 0000.
In honour of Shark Awareness Week, we have put together these answers to your shark questions.
How many sharks are there at Atlantis, The Palm?
What shark species are found at Atlantis, The Palm?
- Zebra shark (Stegastoma fasciatum)
- Grey Reef shark (Carcharhinus Amblyrhynchos)
- Giant guitar shark (Rhynchobatus djiddensis)
- Bowmouth Guitar shark (Rhina ancylostoma)
- Clear Nose Guitar shark (Glaucostegus halavi)
- White Tip Reef Shark (Triaenodon obesus)
- Black Tip Reef shark (Carcharhinus melanopterus)
- Arabian Carpet shark (Chiloscyllium arabicum)
Has Atlantis, The Palm bred any sharks?
- The fish husbandry team at Atlantis have helped breed 4 Marble rays (Taeniura meyeni) and 2 Cownose rays (Rhinoptera Javanica) which are both members of the shark family.
Is there a specific shark breeding programme underway?
- There is a good balance of males and females in The Ambassador Lagoon exhibit which lends itself to a natural breeding programme.
- Most of the species are in involved in some kind of mating behavior, which can range from active pursuit of the females around the exhibit to actual physical contact.
- Most sharks do not reach sexual maturity until quite a late age; this can range from 5 years old up to 30 depending on the species.
- Much of the mating activity we see at the moment tends to be the active pursuit as the large majority of our animals are still juveniles and are not yet developed enough for physical interaction.
What does Atlantis, The Palm do to help maintain the health of the sharks?
- Diet: The team at Atlantis are constantly monitoring the diets of sharks to ensure they are getting what they need to gain the correct nutrients as they would receive from food in the ocean. This is done by feeding them varied diet of the best quality food. There is a special kitchen where the team exclusively prepare the food for the marine life. The food supplied is restaurant grade and specially sourced for its high quality and nutritional value. The preparation area is sanitary and ensures the food is extremely fresh.
- Temperature and climate: Temperature is a major contributing factor to their diet as well, with the sharks requiring less food in the cooler months due to a slower metabolism. There is also an open system which allows fresh sea water to constantly enter the lagoon. This together with an open roof on the exhibits creates the best possible and most authentic environment for our animals.
- Care: Atlantis has a world class fish hospital and fish husbandry team, which help keep all the marine life in the best condition possible.
How can people help protect sharks?
- Education: The best way to help conserve sharks is to learn more about them, which in turn will help change the public’s perception of these fascinating animals. All of us can help dispel the long held belief that sharks actively hunt humans as a potential food source. Humans have little or no nutritional value to sharks, with the majority of attacks on humans being a case of mistaken identity. Changing this perception will go a long way in helping secure shark populations for the future.
- Sustainability programs: Members of the public should support campaigns that look to create sustainable shark fisheries. Total elimination of shark fisheries is not achievable or necessary, but fisheries that practice responsible shark fishing should be encouraged and supported. For example, not catching juvenile sharks before they have the opportunity to re-produce or landing sharks whole rather than cutting their fins off and then dumping the body, will all help sustain shark populations.
How can visitors to Atlantis, The Palm get up close and learn more about sharks?