After 18 months in captivity, 'Sammy' the whale shark has been released back into the waters of the Arabian Gulf.
The four-metre long female shark was at the centre of an international storm of protest when she was captured off Jebel Ali on August 27 2008.
The shark has since been on display to visitors to the Atlantis resort’s aquarium on the Palm Jumeirah.
The detainment of the whale shark prompted uproar from animal rights groups, including the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Former Baywatch actress Pamela Anderson even described the situation as "heartbreaking".
The Atlantis resort said on Thursday that the long wait was required to ensure the shark’s survival upon release. In a statement it argued that seasonal elements affecting water temperature, salinity and migratory patterns were perfect for enhancing her chances of survival in the open ocean.
The whale shark has been tagged and the Atlantis Fish Husbandry Team will continue to monitor its progress.
“The whale shark is an animal about which little is known and Atlantis is proud that the research and data gathered can be shared amongst the marine community,” said Steve Kaiser, vice president, marine and science engineering for the Atlantis resortFor all the latest travel news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
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