DUBAI // Shark watching is not something usually associated with Dubai, but social media was abuzz on Thursday with news of a huge, but harmless, whale shark swimming gracefully in and out of Dubai Marina.
Although unusual, sightings are more common than expected. Workers at the Dubai International Marine Club have seen whale sharks every year since 2002.
Shafi Chalayil, 32, an Indian watersports co-ordinator, said the shark swam along the harbour wall probably looking for food.
“I saw it, but didn’t have my camera with me. I grabbed my paddle board to get out so I could see it better.
“I paddle across from Palm Jumeirah every morning. I have seen them about seven or eight times. In 2004, I saw a mother whale shark swimming with two youngsters. It is not so unusual, and maybe they are eating the drainage waste washed over by the bigger ships when they come into the marina.”
Divers training at the nearby Dive Centre missed out on the chance of seeing the shark as they were practising their skills in a pool at the time of its arrival.
“There are lots of theories about why they come in so close, maybe to feed,” said British diving instructor Jason Sockett, who owns the centre and has been in Dubai for 19 years. “A few years ago there was one swimming around in the area for days.
“Some of my guys were teaching when the shark came in this time, so they were disappointed to miss out.
“It is important if people do see a whale shark that they leave it alone and keep their distance. I’ve seen people grabbing them, but they should be left alone. If you’re in a boat, keep your distance. They’ve found their way in, so they’ll find their way out to sea again.”