I am appalled that a whaleshark caught in early September still remains in captivity at Atlantis Hotel, Dubai.
These animals are totally unsuitable for aquariums and none has ever been kept successfully in captivity. They are highly migratory and roam over great distances. Having photographed them in a number of locations, I am passionate that future generations of divers should be able to experience seeing these wonderful creatures in their natural environment.
Whalesharks are protected by Appendix II of the Convention for Migratory Species (CMS) and Appendix II of the Convention for International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Appendix II of CMS requires parties to cooperate to develop arrangements aimed at the protection and conservation of species listed on it such as the whale shark. This is not compatible with keeping this animal in captivity.
Rashid Ahmed bin Fahad of the Ministry of Environment and Water, previously stated that the whale shark would be released but this has not happened and no date for release has been given. Tourism in Dubai is likely to be adversely affected by a negative international media campaign initiated by conservation and recreational diving interests. I strongly urge divers to use their influence to ensure that this whaleshark is released very soon.
The Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce can be emailed at
or alternatively their contact form can be used at
Contact the UAE Ministry of Environment and Water (minister H.E. Dr.Mohammed Saeed Alkindi) at
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