In preparation to unveil it’s 79-million-dollar expansion, Clearwater Marine Aquarium is nothing like what you might expect from your typical aquarium. Home of “Winter” the dolphin, star of both installations of the movies “A Dolphin Tale” and “A Dolphin Tale 2”, visitors get to meet this friendly aquatic star along with her best friend “Hope”. Clearwater Marine Aquarium’s mission is to inspire the human spirit by employing a friendly staff of animal care specialists who take part in their rescue, rehabilitate, and release program.

A Dolphin Adventure Boat Tour is also available to enjoy the gorgeous scenic views of the Clearwater Bay. For interested visitors, a behind the scene tour allows access to view the open-air critical care facility where the aquarium is in the process of the rehabilitation of a wide array of marine mammals. Whether you are visiting before or after the new expansion, Clearwater Marine Aquarium has multiple exhibits, activities and tours that will touch and inspire your heart. If you are wondering about accommodations while visiting the aquarium, Hampton Inn and Suites Clearwater Beach would be a great choice as far as location and easy access.

The star dolphin “Winter, who has become a worldwide icon and put a face to the human negligence in our oceans, happily lives here at the aquarium in Clearwater. This miracle dolphin was found entangled in a crab trap line near Cape Canaveral, Florida when she was just a two-month-old calf. The crab lines were cutting off circulation to her tail flukes, which could have been fatal if not for the efforts of rescue teams that transported the injured calf to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.

Against all odds and after multiple treatments of extensive injuries, Winter was fitted with a prosthetic tail and persevered not only to swim again but to do so with unexpected expertise. With “A Dolphins Tale” and the sequel, both filmed on location at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, visitors get to meet Winter, an amazing symbol of hope as well as “Rickey”, a Great White Pelican who played “Rufas “in the movie. This story of recovery and rehabilitation reached the hearts of millions and gave hope to the able and disabled alike, proving that although you may be hurt you are not broken. Make sure to check out Shipwreck Alley, an underwater viewing tunnel where you can get up close and personal with Winter as she plays with her friend Hope. Another exhibit is Rufas Beach, a new aviary home to resident great white pelicans and where your new friend Ricky resides.

For you boat lovers, the aquarium has a Dolphin Adventure Boat Tour which is a 90-minute eco-boat tour. Enjoy the gorgeous views of the Clearwater Bay as you view the local dolphin population in their natural habitat. Your tour guide provides interesting educational facts about how they track their dolphin population, their behavior and the ecosystem in which they thrive.

Another more interactive option is the Sea Life Safari Boat Tour, which is also a 90-minute eco-boat tour. On this tour a net pull is performed and an onboard “show and tell” of what has been found in the grass beds of the bay is conducted. This boat tour also makes a stop on shell island where you can collect seashells. Another great recommendation for accommodations for your visit to the Clearwater area would be the Hilton Clearwater Beach Resort and Spa, for breathtaking panoramic views of the bay. Clearwater Marine Aquarium offers a guided tour through the open-air critical care facility to see where the animal care specialists are hard at work rehabilitating these rescued marine mammals. You also get a look into the processing of thousands of pounds of fish that the resident animals consume each month.

Clearwater Marine Aquarium has a clear mission to educate and inspire interest in marine life through hands-on experiences, behind the scenes opportunities to see their animal care specialists hard at work and outings into the local bay to observe these amazing animals in their natural habitat. They are not only rescuing our marine life one mammal at a time but also rescuing the totality of our sea life by motivating people to change. Raising awareness that we share this wonderous Earth with all creatures, each adding their unique value

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