Forget Willy, free Sammy!

Environmentalists say posh hotel should free a whale shark

Environmentalists calling for the release of a whale shark from a Dubai resort’s aquarium are also calling into question the way the animal was captured.

Officials at the new Atlantis hotel claim that they rescued the juvenile shark from its struggle in shallow waters off the city’s gulf coast in late August. However, former employees of the Middle East hotspot told the local English-speaking newspaper, Gulf News, that hotel operators had long intended to capture the species as an attraction.

The newspaper’s readers nicknamed the female shark Sammy and are decrying her confinement. Atlantis found itself in similar hot water last year after purchasing dolphins and transporting them to a man-made lagoon where guests are allowed to swim with them.

According to The Associated Press, the $1.5 billion resort’s open-air aquarium is already stocked with 65,000 fish, and other marine life. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources lists the whale shark as a threatened species.