Atlantis, the palm continues marine leadership with rescue of whale shark
Marine experts from Atlantis, The Palm resort rescued a struggling 4-metre whale shark off the coast of Jebel Ali in Dubai on Thursday, 28 August 2008. Found in the shallows, the whale shark was clearly under duress when it was sighted by a local fisherman.
In accordance with UAE maritime laws, the fisherman alerted the local officials, including Environmental Officers and Environmental Health and Safety. Aware that Atlantis, The Palm had started the first stranding network in the Arabian Gulf, the authorities contacted the resort to see how their marine life experts could assist the whale shark. Quickly responding, the Atlantis team, which included marine biologists and veterinarians with over 80 years of experience were dispatched to Jebel Ali to assess the situation. Due to the high temperature and salinity of the water, the decision was made to transport the whale shark to the 11 million litre Ambassador Lagoon at Atlantis, The Palm for medical care and observation.
The transport from Jebel Ali to The Palm Jumeirah and Atlantis, was undertaken by local fisherman Hamad al Rahoomy with assistance from Atlantis marine specialists. A custom-made transport unit with a highly advanced marine life transport system was used to ensure the safety and well-being of the animal.
Since the arrival of the whale shark, the animal has been monitored 24 hours a day, including gathering extensive data on swim patterns, feeding and behaviours. In addition, the Fish Husbandry team is in constant contact with experts in the whale shark community sharing data and behaviours. The health and well-being of all marine life is the number one priority at Atlantis.
Alan Leibman, President and Managing Director of Atlantis, The Palm emphasizes, “Atlantis, The Palm is proud to be able to offer our expertise and recognized leadership in marine science to the United Arab Emirates. The whale shark is an animal about which little is known and we hope that we can add to the research and data that is available. Aquariums and marine habitats have been the key to education about our oceans and the animals that live in them. Education, conservation and research go hand in hand to benefit all marine life.”
Throughout the expansive 46 hectare resort, more than 65,000 fish and sea creatures representing over 250 species live within 42 million litres of salt water. This harmony of marine life is managed by a team of more than 165 full-time Marine Animal Specialists. The veterinarians, biologists, aquarists, divers, laboratory mangers, food technicians, mechanics and curators who tend to this delicate eco-system on a 24-hour basis have over 200 years experience from world-renowned marine institutes and facilities in Europe, Australia, South Africa, Philippines, The Bahamas and the United States. Spearheading the development of the marine habitat at Atlantis, The Palm are several team members who have worked at the resort’s sister property - Atlantis, Paradise Island in The Bahamas. These individuals have been party to some extraordinary births and developments within the marine habitats – in particular helping to cultivate a thriving, natural environment for sharks.
The Atlantis marine operation is an impressive technical feat. The over 42 million litres of seawater are drawn from the Arabian Gulf into an open-flow system through an almost four million litre reservoir, and then sand filtered, infused and cleaned with ozone before flowing into the marine habitats around the resort. This aquatic ecosystem mimics that which the marine life would experience in the wild, with a constant change in surroundings and seasonal changes in temperature.
The marine habitat also features a fish hospital with quarantine pools for newborns, ailing and acclimatising marine life. This state-of-the-art feature enables the resort to serve as a rescue and rehabilitation centre for sea life. Dedicated food preparation areas serve a daily menu of restaurant-quality ‘fish food’ including shrimp, squid, sardines and minnows for the marine animals at the resort. As an example of the resort’s commitment to excellence and detail in every aspect of the marine habitat, cases of romaine lettuces are served to herbivores, special food blocks of dental plaster, pellets and powdered algae are fed to parrotfish; and live shrimp are cultured and fed to jellyfish.
With a strong commitment to dolphin and marine life conservation, Dolphin Bay also serves as the first marine mammal rescue and rehabilitation centre in Dubai. It is the only centre for stranded animals in the Arabian Gulf. Every year, many injured marine animals are stranded and need assistance. Now with Kerzner’s marine life expertise and new facilities, some of these animals can be rescued, rehabilitated and returned to the wild. The centre will also provide a broad range of educational opportunities including graduate and undergraduate programming, currently being developed in conjunction with universities and local educational institutions.