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Sharks Get a New Lease of Life in Dubai Waters Post Atlantis Breeding Programme

DALL·E 2024 01 26 15.30.28 A realistic depiction of Arabian carpet sharks and honeycomb stingrays being gently released into the clear blue waters of the Jebel Ali Marine Reserv

Revival of Near-Threatened Species Through Conservation Efforts in the UAE

A significant conservation effort has taken place in the United Arab Emirates, particularly in Dubai, where sharks bred in captivity have been released into the Arabian Gulf. This initiative is part of a concerted effort to safeguard the future of two threatened species, the Arabian carpet shark and the honeycomb stingray.

The Release into Jebel Ali Marine Reserve

Conservationists have released eleven Arabian carpet sharks, classified as near-threatened, and four vulnerable honeycomb stingrays into the Jebel Ali marine reserve. This area, characterized by a sheltered bay with a sandy seabed and rocky outcrops, provides an ideal habitat for these marine animals to thrive.

The release of these sharks and rays marks a crucial step in addressing the decline of shark populations in UAE waters, historically affected by overfishing and coastal development. The Atlantis Lost Chambers Aquarium’s government-backed breeding programme has played a pivotal role in this conservation milestone.

The Role of Atlantis Lost Chambers Aquarium

The Atlantis Lost Chambers Aquarium has been at the forefront of this marine conservation initiative. Kelly Timmins, the director of marine animal operations and sustainability at Atlantis, highlighted that one of their key pillars is marine conservation, considering the home to over 65,000 marine animals they provide. The goal of the release is to reiterate that sharks are not aggressive predators and to normalize the process of returning these species to their natural environment.

The released sharks, about two years old and 50cm in length, are expected to grow up to a meter and live for around 20 years, predominantly within the bay of their release.

Broader Conservation Efforts in the UAE

This successful breeding story is a point of pride for the UAE’s conservation efforts. The Ministry of Climate Change and the Environment, represented by Hiba Al Shehhi, the director of biodiversity, emphasized the vital role sharks play in maintaining marine ecosystem balance. The UAE has a variety of shark species, including the giant whale shark, tiger shark, and reef sharks, all integral to the marine environment.

The breeding and release of these sharks and rays signal a positive shift in marine conservation in the UAE, showcasing a commitment to preserving marine biodiversity and the health of ocean ecosystems.

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