Hot news on several blogs, websites and Facebook pages is that Sammy the whale shark has been tagged and released. Since her September 2008 incarceration in the Atlantis hotel on Palm Jumeira, there was initially a lot of talk, but little apparent action.
We, Atlantis, are studying the whale shark. It's under medical care and observation before we release it back into the wild.
We, Atlantis, have no intention of ever releasing the animal.
Personally I’ve never darkened the doors of Atlantis, pending the release of the fish. And I’m not alone.
Isn’t it somewhat surprising that Sammy’s release into the wild was a quiet, unassuming affair with no fireworks, photographs or even witnesses? Surely some form of commemorative photo story would have been appropriate to undo some of the public relations damage done by taking the fish from the wild in the first place? Or perhaps a backtrack from “We’re keeping the shark for ever” to “It’s been tagged and released” constitutes the dreaded Loss Of Face. Therefore it has to be done in secret and at the dead of night, so as not to stress the fish.
It’s curious that, according to the inevitably biased Set the Whale Shark Free from the Atlantis Aquarium Facebook group, requests for the shark’s tag number result in the correspondent asking for it getting blocked from Atlantis’ Facebook group. Mote Marine Laboratory in Florida currently does not carry any information about this particular tagged animal on its website. Atlantis’ employees are allegedly banned from discussing the whale shark.
Why the apparent cover-up? What’s with the obfuscation? What is there to hide?
Those of us with a cynical streak a mile wide might infer from the lack of any evidence to the contrary that the shark was removed from the aquarium and turned into cat food. I fervently hope that those cynics are wrong.
Unfortunately, being a threatened, vulnerable species, the aphorism that “there are plenty more fish in the sea” simply does not apply.