Two Rare Whale Sharks Roam Abu Dhabi Canals

Story ByLee Bullen, Sub EditorJoseph Golder, AgencyNewsflash

The Abu Dhabi authorities are monitoring these two endangered whale sharks – the world’s biggest fish – which were spotted roaming in canals in a beachside community.

Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi/Newsflash

The whale sharks (Rhincodon typus), a slow-moving carpet shark and the largest known fish species in existence, were seen in canals near a beachside community in Al Raha, a commercial, residential, and leisure area in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Abu Dhabi’s Environment Agency, which is monitoring the sharks, said: “Considered endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list of threatened species, whale sharks appear occasionally in the marinas and waterways of Abu Dhabi during this time of year and are not harmful.”

The agency added: “If you come across a whale shark, we urge you to not approach it and for boat drivers to keep a safe distance.”

Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi/Newsflash

Whale sharks are the largest living fish species and can grow up to 12 metres in length (39 feet), and weigh as much as 40 tonnes.

They have a flattened head with stripes and spots on their bodies and rows of over 300 small teeth.

The huge fish are also considered gentle giants, and mostly feed on krill and plankton.

Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi/Newsflash

Kathleen Russell, owner of the Al Mahara Diving Centre, told The National: “If you see it, take a picture of it but please don’t try and interfere.

“It’s possible they are following the flow of something, or they got lost in the channel.

“In the past year we have seen them in front of Saadiyat and Bateen. We have even seen them by the bay in front of Emirates Palace. So they have been along our coastline.

Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi/Newsflash

Russell wrote on Facebook: “If they are close to you, please swim at least a distance of three metres away and don’t swim in the front of them.

“Anyone with an underwater camera should take a picture of their spots along the left side of their gills.

“This can serve as their unique identification and you can report this to the site in which they can track the movements of reported whale sharks to collect more data for the whale sharks for conservation measures.”

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