A species each of stingrays and sharks – both considered threatened or endangered – was released into the Arabian Gulf on Thursday morning.

Four Honeycomb Stingrays and ten Arabian Carpet sharks were released at the Jebel Ali Marine Reserve as part of the Atlantis Atlas Project that champions marine conservation in the region. This brings the total number of releases from the facility to 38 sharks and eight rays since 2019.

Arabian Carpet Sharks and Honeycomb Stingrays are native to the Arabian Gulf region and can be found off the coast in coral reefs, lagoons, rocky shores, muddy bottoms and mangroves.

Atlantis, The Palm allows sharks and stingrays to breed in a natural ecosystem. Aged between 8 and 10 months, the marine animals released were born at and cared for in the resort’s dedicated fish hospital.

The Animal Care team carefully assessed each shark and stingray before deeming them healthy and suitable for release. To prepare for their journey into the wild, the animals were encouraged to explore and interact with other compatible marine life and forage for their food.

Marine conservation

The resort’s Atlas Project has been at the forefront of marine conservation and is home to 10 shark and eight ray species. Led by UAE-based Dr Rima Jabado, the project will continue to support the position of the Global Program Officer for the IUCN SSC Shark Specialist Group. This important role includes organising online workshops, data entry into the IUCN Species Information Service to complete Red List of Threatened Species assessments, researching and preparing grant applications for funding the development and implementation of conservation strategies for shark, ray, and chimaera species, and assisting in the production of peer-reviewed scientific papers.

Another one of their projects is led by UAEU’s Dr Aaron Henderson and will study the evolutionary relationships of sharks and rays in the United Arab Emirates. The results will provide fishery management authorities with a foundation for developing meaningful, species-specific conservation strategies.

“We remain dedicated to working with local government agencies and non-profit organisations to advance marine conservation and to ensure future generations are able to benefit from a healthy and productive ocean,” said Kelly Timmins, Director of Sustainability and Marine Animal Operations, Atlantis Dubai.

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