Clearwater Marine Aquarium (CMA) re-opened its doors in mid December after a wrap up of filming the movie, “Dolphin Tale,” expected to be released in September of this year.
The movie’s promotion and subsequent release provides CMA with an unprecedented opportunity to increase its capacity to fulfill its mission and to improve and expand facilities to handle additional guests.
To capture this opportunity and prepare for the future, CMA has secured a tax exempt loan in the amount of $8.6 million and has launched a $12 million “Ride the Wave” Capital Campaign.
Late last year, CMA closed on the purchase of the property next door to the east of our existing facility to position us for the future. Now we are getting ready for an extreme makeover that is explained in the following paragraphs.
Phase I of our construction plans are to convert the recently purchased land into a surface parking lot. Simultaneous with this construction, we intend to expand our current turtle rehab area, water quality and medical labs, freezer, food prep room and surgical suite by relocating these functions to the West side of the building and out into the West parking lot. We will also be constructing two additional dolphin stranding pools and building life support systems in that area. This construction will, in effect, triple the size of our turtle and dolphin stranding and rehabilitation capacity. Additionally, we will be relocating our administrative offices to the West side of the building and moving our electrical feeds as well as increasing electric capacity and adding additional back-up power generation capability.
In Phase II, we will move some of our personnel to our newly constructed administrative offices on the West side, demolish the existing offices on the East side and build a new lobby as well as a 1.4 million gallon dolphin pool and stadium expanding our dolphin and guest accommodations. Roof access over our main facility will also be available to guests upon completion of this phase.
Our final phase of construction will include a three story, 4 level parking garage to be built on our property to the North. With the completion of this garage and the surface parking lot, we will have parking for approximately 315 vehicles.
We intend to make application to the City for this project by February 1st and begin construction by mid-May. Our target date for construction completion is mid to the end of November.
This is an exciting time for CMA as we increase our capacity to do our work with animals and expand our ability to educate the public on the preservation of our marine environment. If you would like to “Ride the Wave” with us and help support our efforts, please click here or contact Lee Behensky, our Director of Development at 727-686-3499.