Whale shark
Modelling studies have suggested that the largest whale sharks may live as long as 100 years. Image Credit: Pixabay

Abu Dhabi: Two endangered whale sharks are currently under the observation of authorities after they were spotted recently in the canal of Al Raha’s residential area.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations has described the whale shark as “by far the world's largest fish''. Whale sharks are currently protected in several parts of the world: in Western Australia, the Maldives, the Philippines, and in the USA (Florida state waters and all federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic coast).


The FAO refers to the Whale shark as a species whose “maximum total length (is) uncertain, possibly to 18 metres, but specimens rare above 12 m; 13.7 metres is often given as the maximum measured, 12.1 metres the most recently accurately measured. Most reported in the literature are between 4 to 12 metres. Females of 438 to 562 cm are immature.''

Hamad Al Jilali, from the marine assessment team at Environment Agency in Abu Dhabi, said: “Whale sharks are occasional visitors to Abu Dhabi. These endangered species have been spotted in the last few days and we have so far seen two individuals; an adult and a juvenile. They appear to be in healthy condition and have been exhibiting feeding behaviour.”

During the last three days, the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi (EAD) has been the monitoring whale sharks found near Al Raha. Whale Sharks appear occasionally in the marinas and waterways of Abu Dhabi during this time of year and are not harmful, and are considered an endangered species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of threatened species.

“Our Marine Biodiversity team has been monitoring two whale sharks in the Al Raha canal this past week, an adult and a juvenile. They are an endangered species, and it is a rare occurrence to have them this far inshore in Abu Dhabi,” said the EAD on its social networking sites.