Clearwater Marine Aquarium

Have you seen the movies Dolphin Tale and Dolphin tale 2?!

Dolphins Playing at Clearwater Marine Aquarium
     The story of Winter and Hope are extremely touching, and based on a TRUE STORY! We had the opportunity to meet the Winter and Hope, and hear the stories of how they came to live at CMA!  When we arrived, while waiting in line to get our tickets, there was a display of an amazing animatronic dolphin, that was used in the movies for some of the scenes!

There’s a very specific reason why this place is number 1 on our list! It was something I caught right away. Josiah began to ask a lot of questions…

“Is she in pain?”

“Does she need the prosthetic tail to swim all the time?”

He was very intrigued and said how much he loves Winter and wished he could live there. Then he said it, making me aware of what he saw.

“So she has to put her tail on because it doesn’t work right, like my pancreas and how I put my pump on!”

Josiah felt a connection to this sweet sea creature, he felt compassion for Winter, that they both needed to live their life reliant on science to survive. His heart exploded for her and he couldn’t contain the emotions!

Winter doesn’t actually wear her prosthetic tale at all times, it’s used only for exercises to strengthen the muscles in her tail. Without the prosthetic, Winter diverts to swinging her tail (unnaturally) side to side because it’s easier, however that motion is damaging to her body. We also learned she now has a black tail instead of clear so her trainers can see when she’s doing the proper motions. Dolphins are extremely smart, and she realized that with the clear tail the trainers couldn’t see if she was properly using her tail, or taking the easy way out!

We were given the opportunity to give commands to Winter’s best friend Hope (Dolphin Tale 2) to spin, wave, open her arms and kiss our hands!


Nicholas Smiling at Clearwater Marine Aquarium

Nicholas is located on the terrace, he is named Nicholas because he was found on Christmas Eve! He did a few jumps in the water kissed our palms, and we were able to feed him his favorite treats! When our time with him was over, he kept swimming over to us wanting more play time, he even gave us a smile!

We are so grateful for Kelsey who gave us the VIP tour, and set everything up for us to meet, feed and play with the dolphins a bit! The kids could not believe what they were experiencing! Although Emelia did NOT like being up close and personal unless she was throwing the fish! These animals are brilliant! While petting the sting rays Emelia was too little and couldn’t reach so this same sting ray made 3 big loops each time climbing the wall a little higher and higher until you heard the squeal of excitement come from Emelia SHE HAD TOUCHED HIM, he even brought his wing (is that proper term? ) out to high five it was incredible!

Emelia touching the rays

There was an otter show and pelican show too that the kids loved! Those birds are HUGE they got to stand and see the actual wing span verses how far their own arms go out, they were absolutely amazed at how big these birds are!

The kids got to meet a character dressed as hope for a photo op as well as some amazing people who work and volunteer for this amazing place; many who have similar stories to Winter and Josiah!

Clearwater Marine Aquarium Animal Rehabilitation Center

There’s even an area to see all the sea animals that are being cared for and prepped to go back in the ocean. The rehabilitation and hospital area is where they care for these animals to release back in to the ocean! The animals in the rehabilitation center can’t receive a lot of human contact or they will have a hard time going back to sea. All of the animals that are permanent residence of CMA are there because they were either found under 6 months old, like Hope and Nicholas, or are unable to live in the wild.

We brought our lunch because of Josiah’s and Clara’s allergies and needs unsure of what to expect but there is a neat café and some yummy dessert options too!

There was some fun scuba divers asking trivia questions that you can answer by white board. One diver even swam to the window and asked for a selfie! Of course I obliged, can’t turn down a selfie!

Our day started at opening (10 am) and spent the whole day enjoying the shows, activities, photo ops and hands on experiences, we could do this over and over!

There is an elevator, so bring your stroller for the little ones!

Clara enjoying the view

I HIGHLY recommend making this place a MUST GO experience. Get the VIP package and you receive all of the images while meeting the dolphins, photos with the otters or pelicans, and some fun green screen photos which are provided on an adorable USB of Winter, where the tail slides off to reveal the USB full of your images!!

I can not say enough great things about this place! From their true love for the animals and rehabilitating them, and the compassion for all creatures, humans and animals alike, to their mission to spread awareness for keeping the ocean clean (like using recyclable wooden spoons at the dip and dots cart!)

We ended our day at Clear Water Beach, which is magical in itself, and seriously the end to the most perfect day EVER!!!!

Photo by Pixabay on

Now for the question “How did Winter lose her tail?” So without googling, do you know how she lost her tail?

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