x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 29 July 2017

Whale shark spotted in Dubai harbour ‘lured by bright lights of city’

A 4-metre whale shark, which is the biggest fish in the sea, was spotted near Jumeirah Fisherman’s Harbour earlier this week.

A four-metre whale shark caused a commotion after it was spotted near Jumeirah Fisherman’s Harbour, Dubai. Courtesy Martin Feustel
A four-metre whale shark caused a commotion after it was spotted near Jumeirah Fisherman’s Harbour, Dubai. Courtesy Martin Feustel

DUBAI // The bright lights of Dubai could be attracting whale sharks to the coast, an expert said, after residents spotted a four-metre shark near Jumeirah Fisherman’s Harbour this week.

The world’s biggest fish, which can grow to a length of 12 metres, was seen near the harbour.

Swiss expat Martin Feustel, 51, who was one of the first people to see the fish, said he quickly alerted authorities.

“I was there for iftar and saw a commotion near the docks. The security guard explained to me that they had spotted a whale shark and I went to have a closer look,” Mr Feustel said.

“It was very young and had some marks on it that looked like it may be a little injured, so I contacted the police and a few marine experts about it.”

The lights of Dubai Marina ­attract quite a few whale sharks to its waters, marine wildlife experts have said.

“Whale sharks are found in the Arabian Gulf and it is not rare to spot one near the city,” said Dr David Robinson, who runs the shark-spotting website sharkwatcharabia.com.

“Smaller whale sharks tend to be more coastal and are attracted to the marina because of the bright lights at night, which is what I believe led this particular one to come close.”

Whale sharks are harmless to human beings, so there is no need to worry, Dr Robinson said.

“They are usually able to find their way around themselves. The only threat to them would be the number of boats going around the area, but they tend to avoid these anyway.

“People and management around the area should be notified, but this is not a cause for concern for residents. We get these about 10 times in a year, especially around The Palm.

“Nothing needs to be done about the whale shark or to guide it towards open waters; the best way to go about it is let it be on its own. It will find its way around and move outwards.

“They are the largest fish in the sea and this one is four metres, which means it is still small.”

mmannan@thenational.ae