Clearwater Marine Aquarium is a rescue centre dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation and release of marine animals. During our Florida trip earlier this year, we were invited to take a look around.
Anyone who has seen the film Dolphin Tale, will be familiar with Clearwater Marine Aquarium and resident dolphin, Winter. The incredible story of her recovery was featured in the film which raised much needed funds for the centre at the time.
At just two months old, Winter was found stranded in Mosquito Lagoon, near Cape Canaveral, Florida. She had become entangled in a crab trap line, which dolphins do not usually survive. The circulation to her tail flukes had been cut off, but she was able to be freed from the line. Winter was taken to Clearwater Marine Aquarium, where her extensive injuries were treated. Although exhaustive efforts were made to promote healing, her tail could not be saved. Despite overwhelming odds against survival, Winter’s energy and ability to adapt to her new physical form surpassed expectations. She made a complete recovery and adapted to a new swim pattern. She even managed to learn to eat fish on her own, roughly 12 pounds a day!
Winter was rescued at a very young age and with no tail and no ability to hunt or survival skills, she could not survive
Winter is the first dolphin to be fitted with a prosthetic tail. Having suffered such a debilitating injury, Winter’s story inspires thousands of kids and many wounded soldiers.
As you can see from the image below, there are three pool areas for the dolphins to swim in. The back pools are for when the dolphins want some quiet time. They are free to swim to all areas at all times.
During our visit, we saw Winter and Hope in the main pool of the ‘Winter Zone’. Marine staff play with them as part of their care programme.
Daily presentations include:
- Dolphin Anatomy Game
- Resident Dolphin Talk
- Rescue Demonstration
- Tail Talk
The stingrays are incredibly graceful creatures and at certain times of the day you can try feeding them yourself. We stuck to just watching one of the marine centre staff doing it, but I did manage to touch one as it glided by.
Humans are the biggest reason that animals end up in the centre. Clearwater Marine Aquarium use the stories of these rescues, to educate millions of people, so they will not need to rescue animals in the first place. One of the fun ways they do this, is by having a diver host an underwater quiz.
The centre has plenty of information for all ages to understand.
Rehabilitation & Release
Clearwater Marine Aquarium is a working animal hospital. Team members and volunteers work to rescue marine life and nurse it back to health.
When the animals are able to survive on their own they are released back into their natural habitat. Most of the work is with sea turtles. The centre has released hundreds of animals into the wild including 45 endangered sea turtles at one time and more than 50,000 sea turtle hatchlings.
If the animal is unable to survive on it’s own it will be cared for at the centre. This is decided by government agencies that oversee Clearwater Marine Aquarium, and all rescue centres in the United States.
If you are visiting the St Petersburg and Clearwater area, I strongly recommend a visit to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. We had a wonderful day and it will be top of my list of things to do when we return to the area.
Location & Opening Hours
Open 7 days a week.
10.00 am – 6.00 pm (Regular hours)
10.00 am – 8.00 pm (Extended hours)
Clearwater Marine Aquarium
249 Windward Passage
Clearwater, FL 33767
Watch one of the Live Webcams
Download the App
To get the most out of your visit, download the free app, available on the App Store and Google Play Store. Here you will find maps, presentation times and exhibit & animal information. You will also find tips to enhance your experience, and receive updates during your visit.