Clearwater Marine Aquarium (CMA) has announced it has been selected by National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to be the forever home to a new rescued male dolphin.
“We are overjoyed to welcome a new family member to CMA,” said Kelly Martin, VP of Zoological Care. “Coming off the heels of Winter’s rescue anniversary on December 11th and her death in November, this new dolphin is a burst of new life and energy that our team is so excited to embrace. December truly is our magical month at CMA.” Resident bottlenose dolphins Hope, Nicholas, and rough-toothed dolphin Rudolph were all rescued during the month of December.
Named “Apollo” after his place of rescue on Florida’s Space Coast, the 2-year old dolphin will reside at CMA’s Ruth & J.O. Stone Dolphin Complex where Winter the Dolphin once lived with resident dolphins Hope, PJ, Nicholas, and Hemingway.
On May 15, 2021, Apollo stranded on Playalinda Beach, Fla., approximately 20 miles from where Winter the Dolphin was rescued in 2005. Unlike Winter, who was found entangled in a crab trap swimming in Mosquito Lagoon, Apollo was discovered on the beach. Rescuers observed that Apollo was thin and had visible parasites on his dorsal fin, pectoral fins, and fluke. Given his condition and in consultation with NOAA Fisheries, a decision was made to transport the dolphin for rehabilitation at SeaWorld Orlando.
“After nearly seven months of intensive treatment and rehabilitation, Apollo’s health improved and we had every hope that he would make a complete recovery and be able to return to his natural environment,” said Jon Peterson, VP of Zoological Operations at SeaWorld Orlando and Head of the SeaWorld Orlando Rescue Team. “Unfortunately a hearing test performed by the National Marine Mammal Foundation (NMMF) revealed that Apollo has atypical hearing loss compromising his ability to echolocate. Due to his hearing loss, NMFS determined Apollo was not a candidate for release.”
“Due to their history for providing excellent care for rescued marine life and especially dolphins who exhibit hearing loss, Clearwater Marine Aquarium was selected as Apollo’s permanent home,” said Dr. Erin Fougères, NOAA Fisheries Marine Mammal Stranding Program Administrator.
“It is because of the wonderful team work, respect, and professionalism executed by each organization that took part in Apollo’s rescue that he is able to take advantage of this second chance at life,” said Dr. James “Buddy” Powell, Executive Director. “As a working marine life hospital we are committed to providing the best care possible to each and every animal that needs our help, and we are honored that National Marine Fisheries chose us as the best home possible for Apollo. Please join us in welcoming him to our family!”
Apollo is a little over 6-feet long and weighs approximately 200 lbs. Guests are able to visit him in his new home at Clearwater Marine Aquarium’s Ruth & J.O. Stone Dolphin Complex. Tickets are available at cmaquarium.org.
About Clearwater Marine Aquarium:
Clearwater Marine Aquarium (CMA) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit working marine rescue center dedicated to preserving our marine life and environment while inspiring the human spirit through leadership in education, research, rescue, rehabilitation and release. CMA is home to rescue dolphins, sea turtles, river otters, stingrays, a nurse shark, and more. Winter, the dolphin’s story of survival after injury that caused her to lose her tail, has impacted millions of people around the world. A major motion picture, Dolphin Tale, highlighted her life story in 2011. The sequel, Dolphin Tale 2, was released in September 2014 and features the incredible story of Hope, a young resident dolphin of CMA. The mission and potential to change people’s lives differentiates Clearwater Marine Aquarium from any other aquarium in the world.