(From iht.com) Dubai- Environmentalists on Thursday called on the managers of a massive new marine-themed resort in this Gulf boomtown to release a whale shark they are holding inside a giant fish tank. A week later, representatives of the recently opened $1.5 billion Atlantis hotel announced that the resort”s marine biologists and veterinarians had rescued the whale shark and transported it to an open-air aquarium with 65,000 fish, stingrays and other sea creatures.
This is not the first environmental controversy that has plagued the Atlantis resort. Last year, activists protested the sale of dolphins from the Solomon Islands to Dubai. The mammals were transported 30 hours by plane from the South Pacific to a man-made lagoon, where hotel guests can swim with them.
Environmentalists have also criticized Dubai’s artificial islands, saying their construction harms coral reefs and shifts water currents.
The 13-foot long female whale shark wandered into the shallow waters off Dubai’s Gulf coast in August. But environmentalists and wildlife activists in Dubai say the whale shark has become the hotel’s hostage and needs to be release back into the wild.
“This animal was lost, a creature that needed help,” al-Marashi said. “It’s important to nurture it back to health, but it’s crucial not to turn it into a pet.”
Whale sharks are listed as a threatened species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, the world’s largest conservation network