A shark's tale weekend at Lost Chambers in Dubai
One of the world's most renowned shark experts - who has introduced stars and royalty to Great White Sharks off the South African coast - is in Dubai.
Mike ‘Sharkman’ Rutzen will be meeting people at the Lost Chambers Aquarium, the Atlantis Hotel, tomorrow (Friday May 4) and will recount ‘Exhilarating Shark Tales’ on Saturday.
Mike, who runs a fully-licensed shark cage diving operation in Gansbaai, South Africa, is one of the few people in the world who has looked predatory Great Whites in the eye, swimming outside the safety of a cage.
Celebrities and royals make regular pilgrimages to his business, Shark Diving Unlimited, amongst them Prince Harry, Halle Berry and Brad Pitt.
Berry spent a week with Mike and his team filming a new movie ‘Dark Tide’.
He is in Dubai as the guest of the Atlantis Hotel The Palm as they hold the first of six family fun days which aim to educate and get the conservation message across.
Yesterday, speaking at the Lost Chambers Aquarium, Rutzen said he was looking forward to telling youngsters all about sharks at the family day. He said: “Kids are amazing. Kids have the ability learn. Unlike adults who make up their own minds in advance, kids open up their minds and learn.”
He also said he was impressed by the Lost Chambers which is home to 650,000 marine animals including sharks, eels, rays, piranhas, sea horses and hundreds of exotic and tropical fish.
He said: “I wish I could always see the ocean like I see it here. I run a kids’ education programme in South Africa and I take the kids out on my boat. At Atlantis it is much easier, the animals are on display.”
Steve Kaiser, vice president of marine sciences at Atlantis said: “We are working hard to provide education about sharks through a number of activities including our thrilling shark dive in the shark lagoon.”
Many sharks are protected species with over-fishing bringing some to near-extinction. The love of shark’s fin soup in Asia has put a high price on their heads.
Dubai is a major export hub for sharks because of its regular shipping links with China and Hong Kong and the good price they fetch due to the high number of dealers in the emirate.
Not much is known about the shark population in the Arabian Gulf, but conservationist Rima Jabado, who will also take part in the Atlantis family fun day, has embarked on a study.
She said: “The UAE declares 400-500 tonnes of dried shark products - but we don’t know if they’re coming from regional or local waters.”
The family fun day, which will admit a child free for every paying adult (Dhs100) starts at 10am and ends at 8pm. Mike Rutzen’s Exhilarating Shark Tales are in the Atlantis Silk Ballroom at 7pm on Saturday, May 5 – admission is free .