x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Shark takes Leap of Faith

The Palm may modify its aquarium after a shark leapt out of a tank and onto an adjoining water slide at a sister resort in the Bahamas.

The US$1.5 billion ocean-themed resort situated on the Palm Jumeirah island contains 1,539 rooms and boasts a water amusement park.
The US$1.5 billion ocean-themed resort situated on the Palm Jumeirah island contains 1,539 rooms and boasts a water amusement park.

DUBAI // Atlantis, The Palm may modify its aquarium and water park after a shark leapt out of a tank and onto an adjoining water slide at a sister resort. A reef shark at the Bahamas Atlantis managed to clear a 46cm gap and 30cm barrier and manoeuvre onto the Leap of Faith slide, which includes a tunnel passing through the shark tank.

The 12-year-old shark was retrieved from the bottom of the slide and returned to its aquarium, but died a short time later. The incident happened at 9am, before the park was open and any guests had entered. Staff at the Bahamas resort have since installed netting around the opening of the slide and are planning to build a permanent rail as a barrier. The incident has prompted staff to review safety precautions at the recently opened Atlantis resort in Dubai to determine whether there is more they can do to block off their own Leap of Faith slide at the Aquaventure water park, which is also close to the shark tank.

"The situation at Aquaventure Atlantis, The Palm is currently being assessed to determine whether such precautionary measures are necessary," a spokesman said, adding that the structure in Dubai was "10 years more modern". A statement from the Bahamas resort said there was never any danger to guests or staff. "In fact, our concern was for the animal itself, who defied nature to take this leap. The entire team at Atlantis is truly saddened by the loss of this animal, who had lived in the Atlantis marine habitat for over 10 years."

Staff at the Bahamas Atlantis believe the shark was somehow startled into making its leap. After leaving an area that filters water from the Atlantic Ocean, it fell into significant distress once it fell onto the slide and into the chlorinated water. "The reef shark was harmless to humans ... [and] had shown no previous incidence of leaping out of the water," the statement said. Besides the water park Atlantis, The Palm also features a lagoon and the Lost Chambers aquarium, which includes an 11-million litre fish tank dubbed the Ambassador Lagoon.

The latter was previously the subject of controversy over the capture of a juvenile whale shark. The animal was caught off Jebel Ali on Aug 27 after the resort said it was showing signs of distress. The whale shark was originally to be set free after a period of recuperation, but the animal remains at the aquarium. Whale sharks, which are the world's largest fish, are listed as vulnerable to extinction in the Red List of Threatened Species, a publication of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

They are also mentioned in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, which requires that their trade be controlled to ensure their survival. vtodorova@thenational.ae