Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Clearwater Marine Aquarium, FL

Jon and I took a trip to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium when we were in Florida.  The CMA is a marine rehab facility where injured sea animals are treated.  The goal is to release the animals back to the wild, but in many cases that it not possible. The most famous resident of the CMA is a dolphin named Winter who has a prosthetic tail!  The movie "Dolphin's Tale" was based on Winter's life.  
Winter's tail became entangled in a fishing trap.  A fisherman found him injured and tangled and brought him to the CMA for medical help.  While they tried to nurse him back to health, it was too late and his tail fell off.  In order to help him survive, they created a prosthetic tail.  Winter has been using this device and survives with it, but can never be released into the wild.  Winter lives at a CMA facility and is used for education purposes.
The CMA is a fantastic learning museum focused on teaching children about marine life, safety and the ocean.  Even though it was clearly geared towards children, Jon and I thought it was fantastic.  The animals were healthy and happy and so beautiful.
 Here is one dolphin (not Winter) who was exercising. He would go on and off the platform, pulling himself out of the water to get the attention of the trainer.  He did this with such ease and grace. It was quite a sight.  What was most interesting, is that he was doing this of his own choosing.  He wasn't performing in a show.  He was social and playful.  Such a beautiful animal.
There was one tank with a moray eel.  The eel was over 3 feet long and spotted like a cheetah.  It was an amazing creature.
 These fish was just beautiful swimming around in a large tank.
 A sea turtle was being playful and squirting water on the trainer.  He would swim circles around the tank and each time he would swim close, she would pat his shell.  He kept coming back for more pats!  When her shift was over, he noticed and didn't come back to that part of the tank
These two creatures are nurse sharks. They lie in wait on the floor of the sea until they are inclined to move.  This gave me the chills!
And this smiling guy was too cute!  He kept swimming by me and slapping the glass with his wings.  He  kept circling past me.  I love it when models are so willing to have their picture taken!  Doesn't he look like he is smiling?

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