CLEARWATER, Fla. — The Clearwater Marine Aquarium was selected by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to be the forever home for a new rescued dolphin named Apollo, the aquarium announced on Tuesday.
CMA's VP of Zoological Care said in a press release December "truly is our magical month" as they welcome 2-year-old Apollo.
Apollo's arrival comes as staff members continue to mourn the loss of Winter, the iconic dolphin and star of the "Dolphin Tale" movies.
“We are overjoyed to welcome a new family member to CMA,” said Kelly Martin, VP of Zoological Care. “Coming off the heels of Winter’s rescue anniversary on December 11 and her death in November, this new dolphin is a burst of new life and energy that our team is so excited to embrace. December truly is our magical month at CMA.”
- Winter the Dolphin died from twisted intestines, veterinarian says
- Winter inspired many, teaching a lesson of resilience
- Clearwater Marine Aquarium hosts memorial for Winter the Dolphin
CMA's resident bottlenose dolphins Hope, Nicholas, and rough-toothed dolphin Rudolph were all rescued during December.
Apollo was found stranded on Playalinda Beach, on Florida's Space Coast, on May 15.
"He was found stranded on the east coast of Florida. When any dolphin is stranded, there usually is some type of underlying sickness or injury so whoever it was that found him and called...that is exactly what you’re supposed to do," said Brooke Bowersox, senior animal care specialist at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
Apollo was thin and had visible parasites on his dorsal fin, pectoral fins and fluke, CMA said. In consultation with NOAA Fisheries, rescuers made the decision to take Apollo to SeaWorld Orlando for rehab.
“After nearly seven months of intensive treatment and rehabilitation, Apollo’s health improved and we had every hope that he would make a complete recovery and be able to return to his natural environment,” said Jon Peterson, VP of Zoological Operations at SeaWorld Orlando and Head of the SeaWorld Orlando Rescue Team.
“Unfortunately a hearing test performed by the National Marine Mammal Foundation (NMMF) revealed that Apollo has atypical hearing loss compromising his ability to echolocate. Due to his hearing loss, NMFS determined Apollo was not a candidate for release.”
CMA said Apollo will live in the Ruth & J.O. Stone Dolphin Complex where Winter resided.
“Due to their history for providing excellent care for rescued marine life and especially dolphins who exhibit hearing loss, Clearwater Marine Aquarium was selected as Apollo’s permanent home,” said Dr. Erin Fougères, NOAA Fisheries Marine Mammal Stranding Program Administrator.
“It is because of the wonderful teamwork, respect, and professionalism executed by each organization that took part in Apollo’s rescue that he is able to take advantage of this second chance at life,” said Dr. James “Buddy” Powell, Executive Director.
“As a working marine life hospital we are committed to providing the best care possible to each and every animal that needs our help, and we are honored that National Marine Fisheries chose us as the best home possible for Apollo. Please join us in welcoming him to our family!”
Apollo is six feet long and 200 pounds. Guests to CMA are able to visit him, click here for information on tickets.