By: Adrian Rogers - The Spokesman-Review

“Isabelle James saw “Dolphin Tale” the day the movie came out, which happened to be her eighth birthday and the day she got another new leg.

A year later, she tried a prototype of the dolphin’s tail over her left leg – amputated above the knee – as her own prosthetic was off in the lab last week at the Hanger Clinic downtown, getting its extension resistance loosened up.

Joking with its creator, Isabelle called herself a “one-leg mermaid” and admired the material he used to create the prosthetic tail for the dolphin whose story inspired the movie – it looked soft, but it was hard, but it also was bendable.

The chance to see the first-ever prosthetic tail for a dolphin and meet Kevin Carroll, a prosthetist played by Morgan Freeman in the movie, merited a day off school, said Isabelle’s mother, Kim James.

“He’s kind of like a rock star,” James said.

Carroll was in town to meet with pediatric amputees and their families, checking their artificial limbs and sharing his knowledge about new prosthetic options, whether they’re feet that walk better or knees that bend better. Carroll is a vice president at Hanger Prosthetics and Orthotics, which operates hundreds of clinics in the U.S.”

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Cozi has been nominated for Best Kid Actress of the Year for her role in Dolphin Tale as Hazel! Please go vote for her and spread the word to all of your friends!


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In September, CMA began its expansion project by starting to build its surface parking lot to the east of our main facility on Island Estates.  On the west side of the Aquarium, construction has begun for a brand new Education and Administration/Animal care building and a rehabilitation area that will triple our capacity to care for injured marine animals.


While all this is going on in Island Estates, we have also leased from the City of Clearwater the second floor of the Harborview Center, the former convention center in downtown Clearwater.  We are converting the 54,000 square feet of space into a second venue that will be built out with props and scenes used in the filming of the Dolphin Tale movie.  There will also be some educational elements in this facility explaining our mission and how we do our work as well as a gift shop.  It is our intent to open this experience to visitors by November 18th.  A shuttle service will be available to take visitors to and from the downtown venue and our main facility on Island Estates.


How has CMA been impacted by Dolphin Tale?

It has been almost three weeks since the movie Dolphin Tale made its debut into movie theaters around the country.  In its first week, the movie generated over $19 million in box office sales and finished third behind the Lion King and Moneyball.  But because of good word of mouth, in its second weekend, Dolphin Tale leaped over both Lion King and Moneyball and finished first at the box office.

And here at CMA, we are feeling the effects of the movie’s success as it is attracting an unprecedented number of guests for this time of year to our Aquarium.  Folks are flocking to our facility to visit Winter, the star of the movie and to see where the movie was mainly filmed.  Last Saturday, October 8th, CMA broke an all time record with more than 2,700 visitors!

We’re all excited here at CMA that this movie is telling the story of our mission, the Rescue, Rehabilitation and Release of marine animals, to the world and making Winter a world-famous, inspirational dolphin who is touching millions with her story of survival.


The movie was created so well that it is hard to tell fact from fiction.  Many viewers don’t know that Clearwater Marine Aquarium is a non-profit organization that, unlike the movie, does not have a big developer that bailed us out of financial ruin.  We depend on donations, gate revenues and summer camp programs to take care of our injured animals.  If you would like to support our mission, you can donate by clicking here.