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Dubai Aquarium Tiger Sharks Turn Aggressive, Kill 40 Smaller Sharks

Zoe Sinclair / 18 September 2008

DUBAI - Sand Tiger sharks have killed at least 40 smaller reef sharks and been aggressive towards divers at The Dubai Mall Aquarium, Khaleej Times has learnt. Divers carrying out tasks in the tank, without a cage, have had their equipment substantially damaged and experienced minor injuries due to the behaviour of the sharks, according to sources.

The aquarium recently described the sharks, which can grow to 3.5 metres, as a ‘docile, non-aggressive species’.

Yousif Al Ali, General Manager of The Dubai Mall, confirmed on Wednesday some of the details of incidents at its showpiece aquarium with 33,000 marine animals.

‘During the stages of setting up the aquarium, two cases of minor injuries were reported and were immediately attended to by the on-site medical team,’ Ali said.

However, sources told Khaleej Times that while injuries were relatively minor, divers had escaped with their equipment bearing most of the extensive damage.

Feeding related activities were conducted from a cage, but other tasks relied on support with underwater communication equipment and the presence of safety divers monitoring all activities.

Ali would not confirm the extent to which aquatic species had been affected by the sharks’ aggression. ‘It is inevitable that aquatic species die — sometimes out of natural causes or out of injuries inflicted by bigger fish species,’ Ali said. ‘Sand Tiger sharks, by nature, are fish-eating. However, all sharks and other animals in the Dubai Aquarium & Discovery Centre at The Dubai Mall are currently on a monitored feeding schedule in order to subdue their naturally opportunistic behaviour and appetite. This is typical of aquariums the world over.’

Ali said the shark’s nature to ‘prey’ would become subdued within one to three months of regular feedings when they came to rely on the daily food provision.However, the Sand Tiger sharks arrived two months ago, in the beginning of July, and incidents were still occurring this month.  The sharks had previously been in an aquarium in Singapore for one year but were not hand reared.

“Sand Tiger sharks, for example, are a fish eating species. They do not have the natural ability (jaw structure) to consume mammals,” Ali said. Oceanis Australia Group based its assessments of the sharks and the management of the aquarium on nearly 20 years experience in the industry, detailing that the shark species selected were considered “manageable and suitable animals” for aquariums. T he Dubai Aquarium and Discovery Centre features the world’s largest viewing panel and a 270-degree walkthrough tunnel. The centre will feature the world’s single largest school of sharks.

Email :
zoe@khaleejtimes.com

 

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