Shark Week at the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo promises many fishy tales for fans of the big predators. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
Shark Week at the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo promises many fishy tales for fans of the big predators. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

Meet the real thing at Shark Week



DUBAI // Visitors to the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo can get up close and personal with the ocean’s most deadly predators and go diving in a virtual “shark cage”.

The Discovery Channel Shark Week attraction features CGI divers, animated sharks plus species of the real thing brought in for the exhibition.

“People can see hammerhead sharks, bonnethead sharks and devil rays up close,” said Paul Hamilton, the aquarium curator.

“Shark Week is internationally known and by bringing it to the public in this way we feel it will help people to really appreciate how special these animals are and why they should be protected.”

The attraction is located under the hull of a research ship protruding from the wall of level 2 of the aquarium.

Inside the “cage”, a console allows visitors to learn more about how sharks use their senses of smell, taste, sight and touch.

The press of a button brings up giant screens that illustrate how species such as great whites and hammerheads interact with the world.

The centerpiece of the 29th annual event is also a world-first mix of digital technology and a living aquarium.

It consists of a 20-metre aquarium half-tunnel, with the back wall of the tank formed of LED screens. Guests can choose their favourite shark species to swim on the LED background, bringing some of Discovery Channel’s Shark Week to life.

“In the tank itself are scalloped hammerhead sharks, sandbar whalers, blacktip reef sharks, bonnethead sharks and devil rays,” said Mr Hamilton.

“We spent a year getting all the approvals from the US and Australian governments before we were able to collect them from the wild.

“We chose these particular ones as they are instantly recognisable.”

Joe Romero, an underwater cinematographer, who appears in two Shark Week shows, was impressed by the scale of the exhibit.

“We really want to demystify these amazing creatures for the general public because their numbers are seriously threatened,” he said.

The Discovery Channel and the aquarium are also producing a documentary following the construction of the exhibition, which includes the transportation of its inhabitants and detailing the aquarium’s and region’s shark conservation projects.

Aquarium guests can watch a three-minute preview of the full hour-long documentary to be aired on Discovery Channel later this year, on OSN.

Shark Week will be screened across the Middle East from August 28.

For further information, visit www.thedubaiaquarium.com or call 04 448 5200.

nhanif@thenational.ae

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