24 September 2008

Dubai resort with dolphins and whale shark opens

Environmentalists have long criticized both Palm Jumeirah island and some of the features of the Atlantis hotel. Environmental activists say the construction of artificial islands hurts coral reefs and even shifts water currents. They also point to growing water and electricity consumption.

Some extracts from these recent reports
Dubai ups ante with $1.5B hotel on palm island
Adam Schreck and Barbara Surk, Associated Press 22 Sep 08; and
Grand Aquatic Openings in Dubai
Sara-Lise Haith, Deeper Blue 24 Sep 08;
full reports on the wildsingapore news blog

The Palm Atlantis sports the much controversial Dolphin Bay, which is a four-and-a-half hectare lush tropical setting modelled on their natural habitat, described as "home for the dolphins at Atlantis” The more than two dozen dolphins were bought in the Solomon Islands and brought to the UAE. There are three vast lagoons where visitors can meet these dolphins through a choice of interactions.

Environmental groups and some people in the Solomons protested the sale of the dolphins to the resort as well as the 30-hour plane flight to get them to Dubai.

Dubai Aquarium & Discovery Centre will be a spectacular showcase of over 33,000 marine animals, representing over 85 different species. It features the world’s single largest school of sharks including 45 sand tiger sharks, 45 grey reef sharks and up to 30 spotted eagle rays. In total, there will be over 400 sharks and rays.

The Aquarium holds a recently captured whale shark from the waters of the UAE. A local Dubai newspaper reports that the captured whale shark will "eventually be tagged and released". Atlantis announced the capture of the juvenile whale shark recently which was found in shallow waters, “fatigued and disorientated”. Whale Sharks are protected by CITES (Convention for the International Trade of Endangered Species) and apparently the hotel was urged to release the animal.

It is unknown how long Atlantis plan to keep the whale shark for.

Links to earlier reports

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