There are 65,000 marine animals swimming around in the 11 million litre, 10 metre deep tank at Atlantis, The Palm, including hammerhead sharks, zebra sharks, bowmouth guitar sharks, (which are kind of shaped like guitars), black tip reef sharks and Arabian carpet sharks (which looks nothing like a crapet, Arabian or otherwise). And then there was me. Because while you’ve been able to dive in the tank before, you can now snorkel. The Ultimate Snorkel is an awesome way to start the day by getting up close and personal with all sorts of fish and sharks which you’ll bump into in the deep tank. After the expertly delivered brief, and learning what you are going to see, you’re given a wet suit and your snorkel is strapped on and you’re ready to jump right in and explore!
Once in the tank you get a real sense of what is lying beyond Dubai’s shores with the focus of marine life in the tanks mimicing what’s found in the waters of the Arabian Gulf, including golden trevallys, colourful crescent angelfish and various rays. And then of course there are the sharks. The highlight was seeing the new hammerhead shark swimming only a few metres away from me. I wasn’t scared. Well, maybe a tad. Luckily there were no great whites resembling Jaws.
The fishy residents are cared for by 165 marine specialist staff from vets and biologists to food technicians, mechanics and directors who tend to the delicate eco-system on a 24-hour basis.
Once the snorkel was over I really want to dive back in again. However, maybe next time I’II try the Shark Dive or even the Ultimate Dive at the same hotel. If you are a certified diver you can dive straight down in the same tank I was in but you get to go right to the bottom and even get the opportunity to feed the rays by hand. In the meantime I’II be heading to the sea to try and spot the real thing in the wild. Just don’t say “you’re gonna need a bigger boat...”
• There are more than 350 types of shark ranging from 10 inches long to 50 feet.
• Sand tiger sharks are known to eat their siblings in the womb
• Jaws, directed by Steven Spielberg came out in 1975 and won three Oscars.
• Actor Roy Scheider improvised the film’s most famous line: “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”
• Martha’s Vineyard on the east coast of the USA stood in for Amity Island where Jaws is set.
• Three 25 foot model shark were built for the movie but caused problems as they regularly sank to the bottom of the ocean.
INFO: Dhs225, 04 426 0000, Atlantis, The Palm, Dubai, www.atlantisthepalm.com.