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Sights & Attractions

10 incredible species to spot at Dubai Aquarium

Mon, February 15, 2021

With over 33,000 aquatic animals, the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo is home to extraordinary marine life. Here are 10 of our favourites.

With over 33,000 aquatic animals, the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo is home to extraordinary marine life. Here are 10 of our favourites.

1

Swim with the sharks

Small, medium or large, Dubai Aquarium's sharks come in a full order of sizes. Swimming amongst each other in this habitat is the intimidating but docile sand tiger sharks with rows of jagged teeth, whitespotted bamboo sharks that grow to only 37 inches, and leopard sharks decorated in distinctive patterns. Sharks have survived for over 400 millions years – predating even the dinosaurs – so see which prehistoric species you can spot through the glass or meet face-to-face on a cage dive.

2

Sights on stingrays

Gliding through the Dubai Aquarium are majestic stingrays with upside-down faces that always appear to be smiling. These marine animals are closely related to sharks (both cartilaginous species), and a truly captivating one to see is the honeycomb whipray that's naturally branded with a distinct leopard-like pattern on its back. Did you know stingrays have electrical sensors located around their mouth, allowing them to sense a prey's natural electrical charges? It's like buzzing for room service. 

3

Meet the giant grouper

Imagine a fish large enough to feast on small sharks – that's the giant grouper. Seen slowly floating in The Dubai Mall's aquarium with thick, pursed lips and sleepy eyes, this bony creature can reach up to almost 400kg in weight. It's a rare and dwindling species, most closely associated with the coral reefs in Queensland, Australia. Giant groupers change colour as they age, with younger specimens showing vibrant blue and yellow patterns that slowly turn grey as they mature.

 
4

Play spot the octopus

The giant Pacific octopus might have plenty of space to swim in the Dubai Aquarium, but you may have to strain your eyes a little to spot it in between other colourful marine life. While it can grow up to 4.3m in length, this boneless creature can slot itself into just about any crevice in the giant tank. Making it even harder to find is the fact that it can change its colour in just one-tenth of a second – quick and effective camouflage that might make you question your eyesight.

5

Say hi to paddlefish

Dubbed the 'primitive fish', paddlefish are known to have evolved with few structural changes since the early Cretaceous period, around 125 million years ago. They have a large snout, which gives them their name. Despite appearing to have a bony ribcage visible through their gaping mouths, their skeleton is made entirely of cartilage. Unfortunately, its ancient lineage is approaching an end due to overfishing and construction, but aquarium conservation efforts around the world are working hard to nurture new generations.  

6

All hail the King Croc

You won't spot him swimming with the other fish, but the Australian saltwater crocodile is an impressive creature to behold. Known affectionately as King Croc, he's located on the level above the Dubai Aquarium, in the Underwater Zoo, where he commands his own massive space in the attraction. This reptile weighs a hefty 750kg and is one of the largest animals to live in a protected environment, with razor-sharp teeth that make him quite a dangerous predator in the wild.

7

Not an itsy bitsy spider

Talk about creepy crawlies. The largest crustaceans in the world, giant spider crabs can grow to be nearly four-metres long with their legs stretched out. Watch them scuttle about like stilt-walkers along the rocky reefs at Dubai Aquarium, where they live in harmony with their fellow marine friends. While very little is known about these mysterious, long-legged creatures, we do know that they can live to nearly 100 years old, if not more.

8

Time to find Nemo

Swimming in between the intimidating sharks and rays are ocellaris clownfish, which you probably know as the leads in Pixar's Finding Nemo. While tiny in comparison to their home at the aquarium and its dwellers, these aquatic creatures stand out with their bright orange scales accented by thick white stripes. See them fluttering about the tank – sometimes even towards a suspended boat on the roof of the aquarium, adding striking colours to the deep blue.

9

Otter up a treat

Cute, cuddly and notably fluffy, otters are definitely one of the awww-inducing aquatic animals to spot at The Dubai Mall. They have the densest fur, and adorably tangle their feet with other sea otters in their sleep to keep from floating away. Venture up to the Underwater Zoo to see these playful creatures at the popular Otter Encounter, where you can also watch them perform tricks for treats, enjoy mealtime with expert caretakers, and more.

10

See creatures of night

The Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo is not only home to exotic marine species, but also a range of land-based animals and reptiles that make for remarkable learning opportunities. A special display to see is the UAE's Night Creatures, which features all kinds of species that live and thrive in the local desert environment, including lush wadis and rolling dunes. You'll encounter scorpions, hedgehogs, veiled chameleons, frog eye geckos, fruit bats, giant camel spiders and more in this dedicated space.

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