Shark Hunting Aquarium in Pattaya Thailand
Shark Hunting Aquarium
I discovered the Shark Hunting Aquarium by accident. I was on a trip to 'Chang Siam' to revisit 'Monster World' which had been relocated there from Sukhumvit road.
Chang Siam (which means Elephant Thailand) is a multi 'attraction' venue offering a range activities which include a shooting range, rafting, horse carriages, monkey show, crocodile feeding and more. Chang Siam is well signposted and is a left turn shortly after leaving Pattaya, Chonburi, Thailand on the Pattaya to Rayong highway.
It was not immediately clear to me on arrival as to where one bought a ticket and for what but Monster World was on the car park and as it was the reason for my visit this is where I went first.
On exiting the door of 'Monster World' I spotted a number of elephants giving rides. Mostly they were just waiting. There were around twenty of them ranging from a calf of just a couple of months old to tuskers with big tusk length.
Whilst watching these I noted the Shark Hunting Aquarium. The entrance was through the mouth of a large shark shaped building. I have seen similar 'entrances' to other aquariums in Asian animal collections.
Shark Hunting Aquarium
There was a desk at the entrance but nobody sitting there so I went inside. The inside consisted of a single large room central to which was a pool containing around fifty Black Tipped Reef Sharks. All were of a similar size at about 2'6". They appeared healthy.
Inside the Shark Hunting Aquarium
The surrounding walls were made up of five large and five small marine tanks. These were passably decorated and contained a variety of fish. Nowhere in the building was there a sign of any kind. I mean nothing, nothing at all. The sharks could have been guppies as far as anybody knew except they were not because this was the 'Shark Hunting Aquarium'. Shark Hunting Aquarium makes an absolutely zero contribution to education and minus zero to conservation particularly in view of the plight that sharks are facing in the wild today. There is also a Chinese restaurant on the Chang Siam site and I would not be in the slightest bit surprised to learn that Shark Fin Soup was on the menu.
Around the pool were 15 people stood with baited fishing rods trying to catch the sharks. None were biting. I think this may well be due to the fact that three coach loads of tourists were leaving the venue as I arrived. The sharks were full.
Black Tipped Reef Sharks
I was approached at this point By someone in authority. "Ticket?" I said I would pay as I left. I was then told that the baited rod was included in the 200 Baht entrance fee. I declined.
I have really no idea what the shark would do if it grabbed the bait. They were not hooked lines and so a bit of a pull would remove the fish bait I would imagine. I recollect people catching sharks on trips to Kuba island back in the 50's and early 60's. They fought strongly. This whole Shark Hunting idea I find distasteful but it does not surprise me that the idea has come along. It is after all an extension of the Crocodile Feeding idea which is so popular in Asian Zoos.
So what do I think of 'Shark Hunting'? Well without a doubt there is a 'tease' factor and so in my books that makes it cruel. The main thing which gets me is the wasted opportunity to educate people about the plight of the worlds sharks. In fact it was a wasted opportunity to give any education at all. The whole operation reminded me of a restaurant on Pattaya Beach road where customers fish with tiny baited rods for their own prawns for their meal.
There are those who would argue as to whether this set up is a zoo. It is. It is wild animals in a captive environment. As such it should be making a direct contribution to the creatures which are earning it money. This operation is purely commercial and does not give a damn.
The really sad thing is that this 'entertainment' was popular and so I imagine the idea will spread quickly. There was a Fish Spa located quite close by and they are springing up all over the place these days.