Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Clearwater Marine Aquarium

Tom and Rufus

This was my favorite picture of the day – I had to lead with it!

Our friends, Tim and Denise, were getting some work done on their RV at Alliance Coach in Wildwood, FL this week, so me made plans to meet up.

Denise loves the movies, Dolphin Tale and Dolphin Tale 2, so she wanted to visit the Clearwater Marine Aquarium where the movies were filmed and the stars, Winter and Hope, still live.


Winter's Home



Dolphin Tale: Inspired by the Amazing True Story of Winter

Swimming free, a young dolphin was caught in a crab trap, rescued and transported to Clearwater Marine Hospital, where she was named Winter. Damage from the crab trap rope causes her tail to degrade and, without a tail, Winter’s prognosis is dire. It took the expertise of a dedicated marine biologist, the ingenuity of a brilliant prosthetics doctor and the unwavering devotion of a young boy to bring about a groundbreaking miracle – a miracle that might not only save Winter but also help scores of people around the world.

The Clearwater Marine Aquarium is not so much and Aquarium that you are used to seeing, but more of a rescue and rehabilitation facility that gained attention after it was featured in the movies.

When we arrived, several trainers were working with Winter and Hope.

Trainers with Winter and Hope












Winter and Hope

Later, we spotted them playing in the pool by themselves,


and they were having a grand time – pushing the float around in the pool and showing off their skills.

Hope doing tricks on her own

Winter was moving around pretty well, too, even without her prosthetic tail.

Winter's missing tail











We watched Ricky’s (a.k.a. Rufus) antics with his trainers


– he wasn’t very cooperative, he had no intention of climbing on top of that crate!


Trying to get Ricky to cooperate

We watched while some kids tried their hand at feeding stingrays,

feeding stingrays

and visited the sea turtles, too.

Sea Turtles

Sea Turtle











After visiting all the the animals, we took a boat shuttle across the bay to downtown Clearwater, where another facility offers a “behind-the scenes” view of the Dolphin Tale movies.


It was a chilly ride across the Bay!!


Winter’s Dolphin Tale Adventure contained several movie sets and many costumes and props from the movies.

Movie Set



We walked through the exhibit, and Denise explained many of the scenes from the movies – helpful, since Tom and I had never seen either movie!


Winter was the star, but there were some scenes where she did not act as herself, and a mechanical dolphin was used in her place.




Mechanical dolphin

Mechanical Tail










One interactive exhibit included in the movie adventure was the Hurricane Experience.

In the Hurricane Experience


The exhibit included footage from the hurricane scene in the movie, along with the sounds . . . and the wind!

We didn’t chicken out, but the wind and shaking floor felt like a real hurricane!






Experiencing the hurricane

We finished exploring the Dolphin Tale Adventure just in time to catch a ride on the trolley back to the main Aquarium – avoiding another chilly ride on the boat!

It was a fun day, although even with a Buy One/Get One Half Off coupon, it was a little pricey for what it offered – $33 for Tom and I.  WE enjoyed spending the day with Tim and Denise, though,and were glad we could meet up.

From the Aquarium, we continued to Clearwater Beach, where it was still a little chilly, so not too crowded.

A quiet day at the beach

Clearwater Beach











Several people recommended Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill for dinner on the beach, so we decided to give it a try.

Frenchy's Rockaway Grill

The food was pretty good, and not too expensive, considering the beachside location. 

All in all, we had a good day, and I’ll leave you with one more picture of Tom’s buddy, Rufus.


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