A new aquarium is opening in Abu Dhabi this year. With the Middle East's largest collection of sharks and rays, The National Aquarium, in the UAE capital's Al Qana area, is set to house more than 200 animals from 25 aquatic species, organisers said.
The new attraction will be home to the UAE's only scalloped hammerhead sharks and bull sharks in captivity, as well as sand tiger sharks, lemon sharks, zebra sharks, blacktip reef sharks, eagle rays, shovelnose rays (or guitarfish), cownose rays and freshwater rays, among others.
Bull sharks, also known as the Zambezi shark in Africa and the Lake Nicaragua shark in Nicaragua, are widely considered to be one of the most dangerous species of their kind. They are found worldwide in warm, shallow waters, primarily along coasts and in rivers.
Guests will be able experience shark encounter, during which they will hand-feed sharks as large as two metres long. There will also be live feeding demonstrations with sharks and rays.
“We cannot wait for our opening this year, to reveal our array of animals and animal-related activities. In general, people have a fear of sharks and we want to celebrate these fascinating creatures that are so crucial to the health of our oceans," says Paul Hamilton, general manager at The National Aquarium.
“We are hoping that through personal interaction, the aquarium will help people overcome any fears and perceptions that they might have. Most importantly, we look forward to providing our visitors with an unrivalled and memorable edutainment experience on each and every visit.”
Rehabilitation and conservation will be a primary focus of The National Aquarium. In July 2020, the aquarium signed a five-year partnership with The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, “with the aim to help create the largest and most innovative rehabilitation schemes of its kind to protect and rehabilitate wildlife in the emirate of Abu Dhabi".
"The partnership has resulted in a large number of animals saved, including 200 turtles being successfully rescued and released until today.”
The aquarium will be home to more than 300 species and 46,000 creatures in total.