CLEARWATER, July 31, 2012 — The blockbuster Hollywood hit, A Dolphin’s Tale starring Harry Connick, Jr. and Morgan Freeman, is based on a true story. In fact, it stars the real-life tailless dolphin, dubbed Winter.
Found trapped in a crab trap, Winter’s tail was badly cut from the crabbing lines. Veterinarians were forced to remove her mangled tail to save her life.
No dolphin has ever been known to survive without a tail, but tenacious Winter and her determined rescuers at the Clearwater Marina Aquarium (CMA) did what was formerly thought impossible. Working with Hanger Prosthetics to create a prosthetic tail, Winter learned to swim again.
CMA is a small rescue, rehabilitate and release center perched at the edge of the bay in Clearwater, Florida. The center does the important work of working with wounded, stranded and orphaned marine animals from dolphins to starfish, otters to sea turtles.
This isn’t your typical aquarium. Stunts and trick aren’t the focus. Instead, visitors learn about marine animals, both their importance to the marine eco-system along with the harrowing individual stories of the rescued animals.
That’s not say that there aren’t animal antics: on a recent visit, we saw two otters—one paralyzed from the waist down, the other orphaned — “kiss”.
We also interacted with a male dolphin named Nicholas who loved to jump, splash and wave good-bye with his tail. Nicholas, came to CMA as a baby when he and his mother were found beached. When he was discovered he had sunburn on 40-percent of his body. Since his mother died, he bonded with his rescuers and thus could not be released back into the wild. His forever home is the CMA.
There isn’t a better place to stay while in Clearwater the CMA than the Sandpearl Resort.
Located about a mile from the aquarium, the Sandpearl is one of those rare resorts that’s both luxurious and family-friendly. There’s a kids club (with an emphasis on marine education), a lush pool, and a nightly beach bonfire that lures kids with s’mores. The property is situated directly on the pristine white sand that makes the west coast of Florida so beloved. Sunset strolls are likely to yield sightings of leaping pods of wild dolphins in the Gulf.
Through the end of the year, the Sandpearl is offering the “Winter the Dolphin Family Package,”which starts at $274/night and includes a guest room, daily breakfast for a family of four, a copy of children’s book “Winter’s Tail,” and admission to meet Winter at Clearwater Marine Aquarium. A two-night minimum stay required.
Use promo code WINTER to book the package.
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