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What’s this stink about the Shark Tank at QUA

Brede

December 11th, 2007

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Qua Shark Tank

I thought I would post this since I’ve heard a lot of hoopala about the Shark Tank at QUA. Its the letter from PETA and then Mike Yassine’s retort posted on the QUA website. Based on the statement from Mike Yassine, it seems pretty clear to me that this was a very expensive mistake that is probably going to result in the removal of the sharks and having them replaced with more appropriate species. Here’s a reef forum with people discussing the health issues of the sharks.  I think there’s some good points worth checking out if you really care.

Mike Yassine lies in his statement when he said that people weren’t dancing on the tank as seen here, but it is most certainly roped off now. However, I have owned a fish tank and I think that one way to help animals is to expose people to them in such a way that they appreciate them, thus hopefully spurring them on to more environmentally smart choices. That being said, I’m still not 100% convinced that the sharks aren’t bugged out by the bass in the music given the sonic capability of water.

Read and decide for your self.

From: Daniel Hauff 773-486-6786; [email protected]

David Perle 757-622-7382, ext. 8410

Re: PETA to Qua Nightclub: Let Sexy Mermaids Replace Live Sharks and Rays

2 pages via fax:

This morning, PETA sent a letter to Mike Yassine of Austin’s newly opened Qua Bottle Lounge, urging him to immediately relocate the reef sharks, sting rays, and other aquatic animals confined to a tank beneath the dance floor to a more suitable environment and to replace the animals with sexy mermaids. PETA’s letter follows allegations that at least three sharks have already died at the Qua Bottle Lounge and that a fourth shark is ill and being treated with antibiotics. PETA points out that these animals are extremely sensitive to sound, light, and vibration. They will suffer prolonged—and possibly fatal— stress if they are repeatedly subjected to the pounding of the music and the dancers’ feet above them at the club.

Sharks, rays, and other aquatic animals confined to tanks are denied everything that is natural and important to them, such as swimming long distances and in straight lines, hunting and foraging for food, and experiencing ocean tides and currents. PETA is offering to assist Yassine in developing exciting alternative entertainment at the club that won’t cause animals to suffer.

“Using sharks and rays as bar decorations is cruel and sure to turn off compassionate patrons,” says PETA Director Debbie Leahy. “People go to nightclubs to have fun, not to torment animals. What could be more exciting than having mermaids swimming—of their own free will—beneath the dancers ?”

PETA’s letter to Qua Bottle Lounge’s Mike Yassine follows.

October 18, 2007

Mike Yassine, President

Yassine Enterprises

213 W. Fourth St., #200

Austin, TX 78701-3939

Dear Mr. Yassine:

PETA is an international nonprofit organization with more than 1.8 million members and supporters worldwide dedicated to animal protection. Although the Qua Bottle Lounge has just opened its doors, we have received many complaints regarding the sharks and rays held captive in the dance floor tank, including allegations that a number of the animals have already died. We urge you to place the animals in a more suitable environment and use this tank in a creative way that does not put live animals in harm’s way.

Sharks have exceptional sensory systems that allow them to detect minute electrical fields and hear and sense low-frequency sounds and vibrations. Rays also have very keen senses. There is no doubt that the sharks and rays at your nightclub detect the pounding vibrations of the club’s music as well as the dancers on top of the tank—in fact, the water reportedly ripples with the beat of the music, and the animals swim in a frantic manner. Despite the purported “soundproof” acrylic cover, the vibrations, lights, and sounds create a confusing and stressful atmosphere for the animals trapped inside the tank, agitating and tormenting them. The animals are being denied all the rich sensory experiences of their natural environment, the ability to swim freely, and the opportunity to hunt and forage for food.

We’ve also been notified that at least three sharks have allegedly died and that one is said to be sick and on antibiotic treatment. As these animals continue to be subjected to the stressful and unnatural conditions of a nightclub, the death toll will mount. This mistreatment will identify Qua as an irresponsible and uncaring enterprise rather than the innovative entertainment establishment that downtown Austin desires.

There are many cruelty-free ways to use the tank, such as by having beautiful swimming “mermaids” titillate and entertain guests. Will you please make the compassionate decision to move the sharks and rays to an environment where they can better express their natural behaviors? We would be more than happy to help you brainstorm other ideas that would suit your nightclub’s atmosphere and clientele and to aid in publicizing your humane decision to relocate the sharks and rays.

May I please hear from you about this matter? Please contact me at 773-486-6786, by fax at 866-236-9220, or by e-mail at [email protected] I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Daniel Hauff

Animals in Entertainment Specialist

The Shark Exhibit at QUA

Thank you for your interest in the sharks at QUA. We’ve had overwhelming response to our shark exhibit and I want to take this opportunity to address specific questions. While the community has been overwhelmingly positive, some people have understandably expressed concern for our marine animals.

The shark exhibit is not a dance floor. The media has presented a “dance above the sharks” concept which is inaccurate. If you look closely at the photo on our main page, you will notice the rope protecting the shark exhibit. As any of our guests will confirm, except for a small designated area (less than 8% of the entire surface area), we do not even allow standing above the sharks. By design, QUA is a lounge and not a dance club. The music, while louder than a restaurant, is played at a level which never overpowers conversation.

The inner structure of the tank itself is solid poured concrete on all four sides. The four 3 inch clear acrylic panels on top are custom built and each weighs over a ton. There is approximately a 9 inch gap between the water surface and acrylic surface. It’s physically impossible to disturb the water’s surface from above the tank. The visual ripple on the surface is from the tank circulation system housed in a secure and soundproof room approximately 40 feet away.

We have a staff of highly educated and well trained individuals who spent months researching and developing the exhibit. For daily care and maintenance we have an employee who was most recently employed at Miami’s renowned Seaquarium and responsible for the water quality of the entire park.

We are well aware that sharks and other members of the Elasmobranch family have highly adept sensory features including ampulle of Lorenzini, designed to pick up electrical impulses in the water. We carefully observe our animals daily and have seen no signs of stress or change in behavior when people are present or music is played. Still, we have voluntarily contracted with an independent company to run a series of hydrophone tests in QUA. Our control tests will include the club while closed and at all levels of activity. These extensive tests are scheduled to be completed by October 29th and the results will be made public.

Some guests have noticed that some sharks are more active than others. We have two compatible species of shark at QUA, the Black Tip Reef Shark (Carcharhinus Melanopterus) which relies on ram ventilation to pass water over its gills to breathe, and the Leopard Shark (Stegostoma Fasciatum) which, due to a specialized muscle called a gill pump, can lie motionless at the bottom of the water for hours. The natural behavior of these two species might confuse some because the Black Tip requires constant motion while the Leopard alternates between swimming and resting.

Since both of these species (and the rays which share the exhibit) are opportunistic feeders, or scavengers, they will forage, not hunt. They are fed fresh seafood (from Whole Foods) daily. Every shark in the exhibit came to us from an environment where human care was provided. None have come from the wild.

We maintain an offsite facility reserved for any animal that may need special care or medical attention. Contrary to reports that multiple sharks have died recently, we have not lost a single shark that has been living in our exhibit. Unfortunately we did lose a shark in transportation to us, several months before QUA opened.

We understand that some people will never be comfortable with animals living in a man-made space, no matter the size, design, or level of care. To the best of our ability and with considerable resources, we’ve created an environment that we believe is both healthy for our marine life and fascinating to our patrons. The inspiration for our shark exhibit is the amazing Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, an AZA accredited facility.

I want to assure you that my entire staff share your love and respect for these amazing creatures and thank you for your interest and concern. If you have the opportunity to visit, I hope to personally welcome you at QUA.

Sincerely,

Mike Yassine
President and CEO
Yassine Enterprises, Inc.
213 West 4th St., Suite 200
Austin, TX 78701

office: 512 476 7088

[email protected]

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