Clearwater Marine Aquarium (CMA) is no stranger to changing tides in the Tampa Bay community and beyond. From inspiring the number one box-office hit Dolphin Tale starring Winter, an Atlantic bottlenose dolphin rescue and later CMA resident, to achieving feats such as releasing over 850 animals since 2010, CMA remains committed to making a difference in the lives of both its rescues and aquarium visitors.
“That’s part of our mission: inspiring the human spirit,” said Kelsy Long, CMA’s director of media relations. “When people walk through the door, we want them to feel inspired by our animal stories and everything that they’ve been through, and the challenges that they’ve faced.”
From December 26, 2022, to January 7, CMA celebrated its 50th anniversary by extending regular hours to encompass a range of jubilee-themed events. Between 3-7 p.m. daily, visitors were invited to take part in activities such as the Spheres Bubble Show with Blaise Ryndes, who was featured on America’s Got Talent, as well as a Jubilee Boat Ride. Honoring CMA’s influence abroad, presented cuisine took on a Caribbean theme with menu items including dishes from places like Cuba and Belize.
Pairing rescue and rehabilitation programs with efforts to expand research and conservation methods, CMA’s mission to protect the future of marine life began in 1972 with the name Clearwater Marine Science Center (CMSC). In 1978, the CMSC moved its operations to a formerly abandoned water treatment facility on Island Estates donated to it by the city of Clearwater, and by 1981 the aquarium’s initial renovations had been completed and the first exhibit was presented to the public. However, it wasn’t until 1995 that the CMSC’s name was changed to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
CMA currently offers a host of experiences to visitors, including opportunities to build a salad for sea turtles, feed stingrays and secure photo opportunities with animals. Exhibits feature North American River Otters, a nurse shark and Great White Pelicans among others, as well as moments to learn more about aquaponics and CMA’s surgical suite.
Looking further ahead into 2023, CMA will continue to plan new events and exhibits to engage the community such as “Dino Rescue”, which features life-size animatronic dinosaurs throughout the aquarium. Remaining open until April 15, this storyline features dinosaurs who are recovering from perils similar to those CMA marine animal rescues had faced before their own treatment at the facility.
For more information on the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, its mission, and admission, please visit https://www.cmaquarium.org/ or call 727-441-1790.
Clearwater Marine Aquarium is open daily from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and is located at 249 Windward Psge. in Clearwater.