Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Clearwater Marine Aquariaum

We took a detour on the way to Orlando, FL for one of Dean's conferences and stopped in Clearwater, FL for two days.  Although we were able to meet up with one of Dean's mission companions and his family (thank you, Ciccarello's) our main goal in Clearwater was to see Winter and Hope.  Two dolphins from the movie Dolphin Tale 2.  We stopped in at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium just after they opened on Monday morning.

Note to self: A monday morning in October is the PERFECT time to visit.  We had the place to ourselves.

My boys were less than thrilled when I kept stopping them for pictures.

We found out the houseboat was built specifically for the 1st movie.  Ben and Alan were disappointed Sawyer (one of the main human characters) wasn't really there.  I kept waiting for Harry Conic Jr. to show his pretty face.  It was hard for all of us to reconcile the movie with real life.

Learning about sea turtles
Fun fact...Harold, the sea turtle below, actually played the role of "Mavis" in the movie.

Touching stingrays...

A sea urchin...

Ben, showing off his shark teeth.  Alan was mad there weren't any octopus to take his picture by.

I'm not sure what I was expecting, but I thought we would have to wait for a special showing of Winter, or that we would have to buy a special pass, but it was just like in the movie.  You walked in, came up the stairs, and there she was, in the same tank, right next to her friend Hope.  It's such a small complex it feels really intimate.  Nothing like SeaWorld or the Atlanta Aquarium.


For those of you who haven't seen the movies (gasp, go see them!!!!)  Winter was injured when she got stuck in fishing line and ended up losing her tail.  She now uses a prosthetic tail so that her spine will stay straight.


The boys were sad Hope wasn't a baby anymore.  She's almost full grown now, but she and Winter are still best of friends.  

Winter getting some physical therapy...

Alan, trying on the prosthetic tail.

You can visit Winter and her friends at SeeWinter.com.

This aquarium gave me hope (pun intended). They are totally non-profit, run mostly by volunteers and their motto is Rescue, Rehabilitate, Release.  I asked if the movies had given them some nice perpetual funding and the wonderful volunteer laughed at me.  She informed me that other than some maintenance issues and new features like the houseboat and a new attraction called "Sawyers Passage" that were built specifically for scenes in the movie, the aquarium received no money from the movies.  No back end deals, no merchandising, nada.  Amazing.  As we left Clearwater and headed to the Disney Mecca, Orlando, where it's all big and cheap and fake, and all about backend deals and merchandising, I was happy we took a detour to be reminded that there are people doing real good to make real happy endings. There's nothing big or fake about the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.


  1. Great post, glad you enjoyed your visit with us & shared your experience! Just a little correction: Winter's tail was NOT amputated; due to lack of blood flow, it fell off on its own, as if you kept a rubber band tight on your finger for a long time. The "amputation" was "movie enhancement".

    1. Thank you so much, Helen, I'll be sure and make the correction. We really enjoyed our visit and hope to be back soon. Best of luck in your future endeavors and kindest regards to the Aquarium from our family.

  2. Dear Brook I think that you are so lucky. Pleas tell Ben that I miss him, l look forward to your coming in December. From Byrdie