Clearwater Marine Aquarium (CMA) is a marine life hospital, and non-profit organization with a motto says “rescue, rehab, release”. The facility’s root go back to 1953 when a marine life museum called “Sea-O-Rama”, which was located on Clearwater Beach, displayed fish that were native to Florida waters. About ten years later, an interest in having an aquarium that displayed live animals began to take it’s shape. In 1972, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium opened to the public for the first time as a marine science center after the city of Clearwater donated a former water treatment plant to the facility. But, it was not until the mid 1908’s that it started to house resident rescued dolphins. in 1984, Clearwater Marine Aquarium’s first resident dolphin Sunset Sam, became the first surviving stranded dolphin in Florida after he was rescued by it’s rescued team. He was known for his ability to paint and work with disabled children. He died in December 2001.
Today, it is now identified to as a marine animal hospital that rescues, rehabilitates, and release cetaceans, otters, and sea turtles in need. If the animals are not releasable, then sometimes they are given a permanent home at Clearwater Marine Aquarium where they serve as the aquarium’s ambassadors. They also do a lot of work on sea turtle conservation such as monitoring turtle nests in beaches of Pinellas County, FL as well as rescuing, rehabilitating, and releasing sick and injured sea turtles. In 2009, CMA reported over 138 nests all over beaches in Pinellas County. Recently, they have been religiously involved in the January 2010 strandings of a number of cold-stunned turtles who have fallen victim to the unseasonable cold temperatures in Florida. Jojo, was the first of those cold-stunned turtles to be successfully released on February 2, 2010. In the summer of 2010, CMA took in six sea turtles that were inflicted by the BP’s April 20th Deep Water Horizon Gulf Coast Oil Spill Disaster. After the turtles received a second rehabilitation and check up exam, they were soon released in waters off Southwest Florida. They were not alone during this project; they also assisted by rescue staff from aquariums from all over Florida.
Clearwater Marine Aquarium also has six different interaction programs that allow guests to meet their dolphin collection up-close. They include the Dolphin Encounter, Dolphin Trainer Experience, Trainer for a Week, Paint with Winter, Wade with Dolphins. The prices range from the $50 Paint with Winter to the $950 Trainer for a Week Program. The Dolphin Trainer Experience also allows guests to take part in a training session with the river otters too and learn about what it takes to care for these playful animals. These programs are just some ways that allow the public to connect with marine animals in a whole new way.