Clearwater Marine Aquarium

By Holly Giles | Field Trips

dolphin aquarium

Clearwater marine aquarium

Have you been to an aquarium lately? Grant, my 10-year-old, and I took a mini-vacation to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium to see Winter, the dolphin who lost her tail. The movie Dolphin Tale was made about her and her journey to receive a mechanical tail.
My sister recently moved to Clearwater. So, it was the perfect excuse to scoot down to see her and Winter.  We have wanted to visit the aquarium for years. If you have seen the movie Dolphin Tale, you know about Winter and the loss of her tail due to getting tangled up in a crab trap.
Candace, Grant, and I headed over to the aquarium in the summer heat. Our mission was to learn more about Winter and the rehabilitation work they do there.

clearwater marine aquarium with winter

Therapy

Even though it was stifling hot and crowded, we were able to see Winter in the pool during one of her therapy sessions. She did not have her prosthetic tail on. She only has it on for a short while, several times a day.
winter clearwater marine aquarium

We encountered a large sea turtle. Apparently, he had his back flippers amputated due to a fishing line. My boys are avid fishermen.  Seeing these animals was a good reminder of what happens to fishing line if we don’t dispose of it properly. It may not seem like a big deal, but to a turtle who now cannot swim well to feed itself, it is rough.

clearwater turtle

The facility

The facility is small and mainly does rehabilitation. So don’t expect exotic fish and a full day of activity. In addition, there are two locations that are included in the price of admission. The first was the aquarium itself overlooking the bay. Secondly, were the movie sets and information on how they made the movie, Dolphin Tale.

grant watching a turtle
winter movie set
I loved learning about the behind-the-scenes information in the movie. In addition, we learned how they used animatronic dolphins for some of the scenes. Although, I think Grant was disappointed to learn that information. He wanted to believe the whole movie was real.

mechanical dolphin for the movie dolphin tale

 

winter movie houseboat

We took a boat ride back to the aquarium and finished our tour.

clearwater boat ride from the aquarium
 
honeymoon island with grant and mommy

Honeymoon Island

It was beautiful. In addition, there were breathtaking views and a white sand beach. Did I mention how hot it was? Next, we went bicycling on the nature trail. Until my tire went flat. Then, we walked along the beach. Grant skipped seashells into the water and found a few interesting creatures.

honeymoon island gopher tortoise

 

grant skipping rocks on honeymoon island beach
We wanted to stay for sunset, which I hear is phenomenal. However,
we were attacked by the biggest monster mosquitoes I have ever seen.

grant and a shell on honeymoon island
We wanted to stay for sunset, which I hear is phenomenal. However, we were attacked by the biggest monster mosquitos I have ever seen. When I say attacked, I mean blood running down my legs and screaming for mercy! We ran, literally, and jumped in the car for safety.


honeymoon island 4
Plan your trip to Clearwater Marine Aquarium and Honeymoon Island. They are worth the trip. Just remember to pack bug spray and a tire pump.

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About the Author

Holly Giles is a wife, mother, and storyteller. As an author and Florida Master Naturalist, she writes about heritage homemaking skills, motherhood, and why Florida offers the best hidden natural gems to explore as a family.