The National Aquarium (TNA), located in Al-Qana, Abu Dhabi, will showcase an astonishing biodiversity of species when it opens its doors later this year. The largest aquarium in the region, TNA houses more than 200 sharks and rays, representing 25 different species. Teaming with marine life, the aquarium will provide guests with a remarkable opportunity to delve into a submarine world and discover the awe-inspiring variety of species found within our oceans.
It is also the only place in the UAE to house a school of iconic scalloped hammerhead sharks. Additionally, the bull sharks will also make their debut in the region and guests will be able to see first hand what is widely considered one of the most dangerous shark species in the ocean and rivers. Other species of sharks and rays will include sand tiger sharks, lemon sharks, zebra sharks, black tip reef sharks, eagle rays, shovelnose rays, cownose rays, and freshwater rays, among others.
Sharks are one of the most misunderstood animals in the ocean with the misperception that they are dangerous, a narrative that has been reinforced by the film industry. With their numbers dwindling due to over-fishing, the team at TNA is seeking to turn fear into fascination and educate visitors around how well these apex predators can adapt to living peacefully. Guests will be able to observe how these beautiful animals interact with other species, including TNA’s team of world-class divers.
An unmissable highlight will be the feeding demonstrations with both sharks and rays, as well as a one-of-a-kind public “Shark Encounter.” Guests will be able to hand-feed sharks as large as two meters long, which promises to be an unforgettable experience, especially for people who have a fear of sharks.
Paul Hamilton, general manager at TNA, said: “We cannot wait for our opening this year, to reveal our array of animals and animal-related activities. In general, people have a fear of sharks and we want to celebrate these fascinating creatures that are so crucial to the health of our oceans. We are hoping that through personal interaction, the aquarium will help people overcome any fears and perceptions that they might have. Most importantly, we look forward to providing our visitors with an unrivaled and memorable edutainment experience on each and every visit.”
TNA signed a five-year partnership with the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi in July 2020 with the aim to help create rehabilitation schemes to protect and rehabilitate wildlife in the emirate of Abu Dhabi. The partnership has resulted in a large number of animals saved until today, including 200 sea turtles being successfully rescued and released.