We snorkelled with the sharks in Dubai and dived into another world

Atlantis, The Palm, offers an experience in which visitors can swim with the majestic sea creatures



by

Nasreen Abdulla

Published: Wed 20 Jul 2022, 2:38 PM

Last updated: Wed 20 Jul 2022, 10:17 PM

We took a dive in a shark pool in Dubai and it was the stuff of dreams! Snorkelling in the pool with sharks, stingrays and other colourful fishes for company transports you into another world, literally. A beautiful Honeycomb stingray with its patterned skin shows off its acrobatics, while a Whitetip Reef shark glides past.

We got the chance to get up close and personal with the sea world in the Shark Lagoon at Atlantis, The Palm, and got a crash course on sharks that are native to the UAE and region. Offered as part of Shark Week 2022, visitors can swim on the surface of the lagoon along with an expert diver.

Before getting into the Shark Lagoon, we were briefed by our diver Infent Rini about the dos and donts while inside the enclosure and how to spot the different species of sharks. He also explained how to use the snorkelling equipment effectively and the route of navigation.

After the briefing, we donned our life jackets and snorkelling equipment and headed into the Shark Lagoon. Inside the water were seven shark species including the Zebra Sharks and Whitetip Reef Sharks. We were only able to spot four of them because some like the Arabian Carpetshark prefer to spend their time under rocks, away from humans. According to Rini, there are a total of 35 adult sharks and over a hundred babies inside the lagoon. In addition to that, there are sting rays like Honeycomb, Porcupine and Cownose stingrays, as well as other colourful marine life. The water inside the lagoon is extracted from the ocean and maintained at a controlled temperature to give sharks their natural habitat.

The experience that celebrates local shark species from the Arabian Gulf is one of two new shark-themed educational programs dedicated to raising awareness about why their conservation is important for healthy ocean ecosystems and our planet. The initiative is part of the Atlas Project set up by Atlantis to provide opportunities for visitors and guests to experience and learn more about their local environment both in and outside the resort.

The other initiative launched during this period is the Shark Specialist which will give children between the ages of 8 and 14 an opportunity to visit a state-of-the-art fish hospital and interact with aquarists to learn all about our different species of sharks and how to care for them.

The Shark Lagoon has been in operation for over 14 years with a host of experts working behind the scenes to ensure that the best care is given to the sharks. Aquarist Lalit Lakshan has been with the facility since before it opened up and he explained how the breeding process happens. “Once the sharks lay eggs, they are moved to the fish hospital,” he said. “There, they grow you to adulthood and are then moved to a holding cell where they are acclimatized to the pool and humans. Once they are ready, they are moved to the Shark Lagoon. From the Shark Lagoon, they are moved to the Ambassador Lagoon inside Atlantis Aquaventure.

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