[Coral-List] Atlantis Dubai whale shark

Delbeek, Charles cdelbeek at calacademy.org
Thu Oct 9 13:38:56 EDT 2008

Actually the Georgia Aquarium has FOUR whale sharks and they were collected
in Taiwan.

Just because an institution does not belong to AZA or WAZA does NOT mean it
is not capable or competent to keep marine life in captivity. Joining these
associations is a matter of choice, it is not a requirement. Being in such as
association ensures that certain standards are being met, but those standards
can still be met or even exceeded whether you are a member or not. Also, it
is not uncommon for new institutions to take a year or more to become
accredited due to the extremely involved process and amount of paperwork that
needs to be done; this can take up to two years. So even though Palm Dubai is
not currently affiliated with any association it does not mean they won't
soon be. Their sister institution in the Bahamas is accredited by AZA I


J. Charles Delbeek

Reopening in Golden Gate Park  9.27.08

-----Original Message-----
From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
[mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of Sarah
Sent: Thursday, October 09, 2008 8:18 AM
To: William Allison; coral-list coral-list
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Atlantis Dubai whale shark

Bill,"We must protect the wild ocean". This is one of the many messages that
comes out of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's
Conference (IUCN), ocurring right now in Barcelona.  I will not enter into a
debate over captive vs non captive marine wildlife, although that could be
the subject of another chain of emails. First, the facts.IUCN's red list, has
whale sharks as VULNERABLE, although as scientists learn more about the
species, it is possible that some local feeding grounds (where whale sharks
aggregate) will be classfied as ENDANGERED.  CITES lists the species under
appendix II, as a species not threatened by extinction but trade needs to be
controlled in order to avoid utilization incompatible with survival.  If you
go into the details of permits, etc, you find an interesting clause that
says:"in the case of a live animal....it must be prepared/shipped to minimize
any risk of injury, damage or health or CRUEL TREATMENT. As for keeping a
whale shark
  or any wildlife (terrestrial or marine) in captivity, in the USA, the AZA
(Association of Zoos and Aquariums) has set up a series of very restrictive
and demanding conditions in order for an aquarium to earn accreditation.
Those regulations involve adequate husbandry, and justification of having the
captive animal, which usually involves setting up quite an extensive long
term educational and research program, as well as a captive reproductive
program whenever possible. Within the USA, the Georgia Aquarium has
successfully kep alive two juvenile whale sharks, which were originally
captured in Indonesia, and ready to be killed. This aquarium is fully
accreditted by AZA, and has established an extremely active research and
educational program on the species. The international sister of AZA is...
WAZA (the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums) which follows equally
restrictive and demading regulations for institutions to earn accreditation.
The Atlantic Hotel in the Palm, D
 ubai, is NOT accredited under WAZA to keep any marine wildlife captive. You
can go to the WAZA web site, and check for the list of accredited
institutions yourself. In conclusion, the Atlantic Hotel in the Palm in
Dubai, is NOT accredited to keep marine wildlife in captivity, therefore, not
accredited to keep a whale shark, because it does not comply with the
requirements needed to do so. Keeping the shark incarcerated "in order to
recuperate from stress" is bogus, as that is not the way you reduce stress in
a whale shark (but see comments above about AZA and WAZA), and "for
scientific study", that will be interesting to see, but it looks the same
bogus argument of the "scientific whaling" used by the Japanese in order to
continue killing cetaceans.  The hotel may argue that because they are a
hotel, not a public aquarium, they don't need WAZA's accreditation. But that
begs the question, why they have captive marine wildlife in the first place.
If they have it for the "pleas
 ure of their guests" that contradicts their statements on "recuperation from
stress and for scientific study". The shark must be released at once. 

Sarah Frias-Torres, Ph.D. 
Marine Conservation Biologist
Ocean Research and Conservation Assocaition, Florida USA
 > Date: Thu, 9 Oct 2008 09:53:09 -0400> From: allison.billiam at gmail.com> To:
Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov> Subject: [Coral-List] Atlantis Dubai whale
shark> > A friend in Dubai has contacted me to express concern about the fate
of the> 4 m whale shark "rescued" in early September 2008 and since confined
to the> aquarium at the Atlantis Hotel in the Palm, Dubai. The explanation
offered> to the public for keeping the shark incarcerated is to allow it to>
recuperate from stress and for scientific study. Sceptics suspect more>
self-interested reasons. The CITES listing of this species is an interesting>
wrinkle. Hoping to establish the smoke to fire ratio, I would like to hear>
about the pros and cons of this situation from people with professional>
experience with whale shark biology, and especially those with arms-length>
experience with this particular case.> > Bill>
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