Clearwater Marine Aquarium

If your family enjoys learning about and observing the abundant variety of sea life that shares our beautiful gulf coast, you will love spending a day at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium – this month’s “Trip on a Tank.”

Our day at the aquarium began with a behind the scenes tour, including the marine hospital, where skilled veterinarians care for wounded or sick animals, and the kitchen, where a restaurant-quality diet is prepared for each of the animals living at the aquarium. We enjoyed observing the large variety of animals being cared for, including dolphins, sharks, sea turtles, and river otters. The tour also took us to the hands-on areas of the aquarium, where the kids all enjoyed petting sting rays and holding crabs, sea urchins, and other small creatures. Unfortunately for 13-year-old David, our guide wasn’t quick enough to catch any of the shrimp though!

Next, we headed down to the dock to catch the Sea Life Safari boat tour – the highlight of the day for our youngest two oceanographers. During the ride out to the shell island, we watched while the staff collected a variety of sea life to study. Then while they sorted and recorded the animals they had caught, the whole family enjoyed swimming and collecting shells on the island. 6-year-old Hanna found the biggest shell and was very proud of herself! On the return trip, everyone enjoyed learning about and observing all of the sea critters before they were released back into the bay.

After our boat ride, it was time to watch the stars of the aquarium at a dolphin show. Winter inspired us with her determination and willingness to adapt and perform both with and without her prosthetic tail. And the other three resident dolphins, Panama, Nicholas, and Indy, all impressed us with their intelligence and grace.

Our day ended with a trip to the gift shop, which is packed with Winter memorabilia – t-shirts, stuffed animals, books, puzzles, jewelry, and much more. You can even take home a piece of art that has been painted by Winter herself!

Some of our explorers were a little too young, but older kids and adults can wade right in the dolphin tanks with Winter or Panama, or they might enjoy a 4-hour guided kayaking tour. And the Atlantis Theater features fun and educational films for the entire family throughout the day.

The Clearwater Marine Aquarium’s mission is to restore and preserve our marine environment through education, research, and the rescue, rehabilitation and release of marine life. We at “Gulf Coast Family” give our appreciation to all of the staff and the hundreds of volunteers for their willingness to devote so much time and effort providing an enjoyable and educational experience while they help the animals who need them!

If not us...then who?

One of the great challenges of this century is to educate the world’s population on how to maintain and preserve our waters and marine life for future generations. The goal of the Clearwater Marine Aquarium is to reach the four corners of the globe with this message.

Founded in 1972, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium is the world’s most recognized marine life rescue center, dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of injured, sick, or stranded marine life. This nonprofit organization, located in Clearwater, educates residents, visiting tourists, and millions more around the world via its global media presence on the importance of protecting and preserving our waters and marine life. CMA also oversees the area’s sea turtle nesting program, combing miles of beaches during nesting season to ensure nests are located and cared for, and that hatchlings safely make it to the water. CMA staff and volunteers are on call 24/7 to rescue stranded or injured sea turtles, dolphins, river otters, and more.

In spite of tremendous growth and a global presence, CMA remains a “neighborhood” aquarium, a place where children and adults alike can visit anytime to wonder at the unending diversity, grace, and beauty of the creatures of the sea. Environmental education plays an important role in the aquarium’s marine life outreach. In addition to sharing their expertise and amazing animal rehabilitation stories, staff and volunteers work diligently to teach people how they can help protect marine animals from injuries. CMA conveys this important message through a variety of hands-on educational opportunities, including eco-boat tours, kids’ camps, tours, off-site presentations, and animal interactions. CMA’s wide-screen theater provides guests with films and behind-the-scenes footage of animal rescue, rehabilitation, and release.

Wade with Winter

Go ahead, get wet! Yes, you can get in the water with Winter! This amazing experience allows participants to get in the water with Winter, the world famous dolphin without a tail. Sit, stand or kneel in waist deep water while touching and interacting with Winter and Panama. Use your mask and snorkel to see how she has adapted to swimming without her tail. Get closer than ever before to Winter and see for yourself why she has captivated hearts and inspired lives around the world.

Note that some restrictions may apply, so visit to learn more and to book your adventure today!

Winter the tailless dolphin has brought unparalleled, international attention to CMA. People travel from around the world to meet her. The “Winter’s Team” program offers kids with any life challenge the opportunity to meet and interact with this special dolphin. Her documentary, “Winter: The Dolphin that Could” is available at The documentary takes views on an extraordinary journey through her rescue, fight to stay alive and extensive rehabilitation.

Winter & CMA on the Big Screen!

Free Willy move over (I love that movie)! You probably have heard that the Clearwater Marine Aquarium recently announced a movie partnership with Alcon Entertainment and Warner Brothers. Alcon Entertainment is a leading independent film maker associated directly with Warner Brothers and its two most recent films were The Blind Side with Sandra Bullock and The Book of Eli with Denzel Washington.

The soon-to-be-produced movie, A Dolphin Tale, will be a major motion picture theatrical release. The story line includes many of Winter’s true-life facts with a fictional story wrapped around it. A young man named Sawyer befriends Winter and rallies people around Winter to get her a prosthetic tail. It is a heart-warming story that will reach millions around the world about the work that is being done at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.

Gulf Coast Family Publications - Encouraging families along the Gulf Coast in Pinellas County