The aquarium is also home to many other animals with conditions that require them to live with CMA full time.
CLEARWATER, Fla — Clearwater Marine Aquarium reopened Saturday after closing Friday to give staff time to mourn the loss of their beloved Winter the Dolphin.
Although Winter is no longer at the facility, her presence will always be felt at Clearwater Marine Aquarium, where a banner is hanging to remember her. In addition, visitors have dropped off flowers in her honor and don’t miss the aquarium’s “Winter Zone” where both Dolphin Tale and Dolphin Tale 2 were filmed. Winter was a crowd favorite as one of the dolphins present in the rescue and rehabilitation aquarium.
As visitors return to Clearwater Marine Aquarium, many other dolphins can be seen that have conditions that require them to live in the aquarium full time. Among the residents are Hope the Dolphin who starred in Dolphin Tale 2 with Winter.
Let’s waltz through the neighborhood residents of the Ruth & JO Stone Dolphin Complex at CMA.
Hope is an 11-year-old Atlantic bottlenose dolphin who lives with CMA. As mentioned, she starred in Dolphin Tale 2 with Winter. She was rescued as a calf in December 2010, five years after Winter was rescued, near the same area as Winter in the Indian River Lagoon. Since her rescue, CMA has restored Hope to health and she is “thriving” at CMA. She’s even learned several helpful behaviors for “medical care, mental stimulation, and exercise,” CMA says.
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Nicholas is another Atlantic bottlenose dolphin at CMA. The 18-year-old dolphin and his mother were rescued when Nicholas was just a calf on December 24, 2002. The two were stranded near Gibsonton, Florida, and were initially taken to the Florida Aquarium and then transported to CMA for a long time. . term medical care, says CMA. Nicholas’ mother, who named the aquarium Noelle, died after suffering from injuries she sustained before being rescued. While Nicholas was able to make a full recovery, CMA says, “because he didn’t have his mother to teach him how to survive in the wild, he became a permanent resident of Clearwater Marine Aquarium.”
PJ is one of the oldest dolphins living in the dolphin complex. The 50-year-old Atlantic bottlenose dolphin was rescued in August 2018 after CMA said she was stranded in the shallows of Old Tampa Bay. Due to various medical issues, PJ was considered non-releasable and became a permanent resident to live the rest of her life.
Hemingway, not to be confused with Ernest Hemingway, the author, is a 27-year-old Atlantic bottlenose dolphin who was rescued in July 2019. He’s actually one of CMA’s newest dolphins. Hemingway stranded in the shallow waters off Fiesta Key, Florida, CMA says. He was rescued and treated at SeaWorld for pneumonia and significant weight loss, but as he got better, caregivers learned that he suffered from ongoing health problems and hearing loss. His condition made him non-releasable. Hemingway arrived at CMA in July 2020 and became a permanent resident.
Rudolph, or Rudy, the rough-toothed dolphin, arrived at CMA in December 2019. He is also the first inhabitant of the rough-toothed dolphin in the aquarium. He is estimated to be between 2 and 5 years old, CMA says. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) found Rudolph stranded in Sanibel, Florida, in December 2019. CMA received Rudy in critical condition, but over time he recovered. While recovering, CMA found that Rudy suffered from hearing loss that affected his ability to echolocate, which could affect his ability to locate food. Determined not to be released, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) chose CMA as its new home, knowing that CMA provided excellent care for dolphins with hearing loss like PJ and Hemingway.
Rex was brought to CMA to be a companion for Rudy. How sweet!? The rough-toothed dolphin was rescued in April 2019 off the coast of St. George Island, Florida. He would be somewhere between 5 and 7 years old, CMA says. Rex was suffering from lung problems likely caused by aspiration and fungal pneumonia when he was rescued. He was later determined to also suffer from hearing loss and NMFS deemed him non-detachable. Initially placed under the care of Gulf World, his close age to Rudy made him the perfect candidate to transfer to CMA where the two are able to socialize, which is “critical to dolphin welfare” when it comes to to “social development and reducing stress,” says CMA.
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In addition to dolphins, CMA is home to other rescued animals. The rescued residents include two otters named Walle and Boomer, twelve sea turtles, four pelicans, a nurse shark named Thelma, many stingrays and other sea creatures.
Winter the dolphin died Thursday at the age of 16. The Atlantic bottlenose dolphin who inspired millions after she lost her tail fins as a calf braved the odds of her disability and taught many others while starring in the movie, Dolphin Tale.
CMA announced the heartbreaking news on Thursday evening that Winter de Dolfijn has passed away after battling a gastrointestinal infection for days. A necropsy revealed that the preliminary result of death was intestinal torsion. CMA vet Dr. Shelly Marquardt explains that this is when the intestines “turn on themselves” and cut off blood flow to the intestines.
In a tweet from CMA on Saturday, they said their animal care team is showing their other resident dolphins some extra love since Winter’s death.
They’ve also been checked and cleared for any illnesses, CMA says. The vets found no signs of illness and the dolphins are behaving “normally”.
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