My girls are the biggest fans of Hope and Winter, the dolphins that are portrayed in the movies Dolphin Tale and Dolphin Tale 2. I love them because Winter is a great example of strength and determination. If you don’t know the story, Winter was 3 months old when her tail became entangled in a crab trap line that cut off circulation of her tail flukes. She was brought to Clearwater Marine Aquarium and with the help of many people there, she was given a prosthetic tail and flute and relearned how to swim.
We woke up to rain and decided to go off resort and find our favorite dolphins. The Clearwater Marine Aquarium is not your typical aquarium, it is a working animal hospital and marine life rescue center. If you’ve seen the movie you’ll feel like you’re standing on the set. Our first stop was to see the stars of the aquarium…Winter and Hope. They were just as cute as they were in the movie and my girls felt like they were standing near celebrities. When we got there they were just starting a show where they told about the dolphins and showed tricks that they did. Besides helping animals, their objective is to educate the public about marine life.
My girls were cooing over Winter and Hope when a staff member pulled them aside and asked them if they wanted to see Winter’s actual prosthetic tail. Are you kidding me??? Their eyes lit up and they both squealed, “Yes please!” The staff member brought out the prosthetic and explained how it worked. Then they each got to hold it and feel the rubber insert. It was their favorite part of the day.
There are plenty of activities to do while at the aquarium:
Go to shipwreck alley to the underwater viewing area of Winter and Hope. Hope was just as curious about my girls as they were of her.
Otter Oasis: These otters have a great place to live that includes a sandy beach and plenty of toys to keep them busy.
Turtle Bayou: This is where they hold their rescued turtles. They have clean water and rocks they can climb on.
Rufus Beach: Meet the pelicans that were actors in the movies. (Rufus is one of our favorite characters)
Stingray Beach: This touch tank allows you to pet stingray as they swim passed you in their tanks. I believe you can also feed them there.
Shark Pass: Here you can meet Thelma and Louise, gorgeous nurse sharks that live at the aquarium.
- General admission tickets include entrance to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, entrance to Winter’s Dolphin Tale Adventure (We didn’t go there because we were meeting family members that afternoon.), a boat or trolley ride to both locations, and parking.
- Tickets are $21.95 for adults, $16.96 for children ages 3-12, and $19.95 for seniors.
- There is food available right outside the aquarium (burgers, pizza, snacks, ice cream, and drinks) but you can bring no food inside for the safety of the animals.
- You can have a photo opportunity with the dolphins but it is extremely short and only the person paying can touch the dolphin. It costs $40 for most of the dolphins but if you want your own picture with Winter it will cost you $140!!