On February 18th, 2012 CMA held a DOLPHIN TALE MOVIE PROP SALE to raise funds to support the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Several movie prop items were left behind by the DOLPHIN TALE production company after filming, and were sold at the sale. One special prop was one of the duck rings used during the scene in which Sawyer (played by Nathan Gamble) was trying to find a toy for Winter. In the scene Winter grabbed the duck, pulling Sawyer in the pool with her and the two bonded in a playful swim. A silent auction was held for the toy, and we are so happy to report it sold for $500! Thank you to the Flood family of Baden, Ontario for their generous bid! This sort of support allows us to continue our mission to rescue, rehab and release more marine animals!

After suffering from red tide intoxication, Emmie will return to the wild

Clearwater, FL (November 30, 2011) – CMA will be releasing its 15th rehabilitated sea turtle of the year this Thursday. Emmie, a small juvenile green sea turtle, was admitted on October 30 to CMA suffering from extreme lethargy, decreased heart rate and swelling around the eyes and cloacal areas. These symptoms, patterned with the fact that she was rescued from Lee County, pointed towards red tide intoxication. In the previous month, Manatee and Lee Counties documented red tide blooms in the near shore waters. Red tide is a dinoflagellate (single cell organism) called karenia brevis that produces a neurotoxin called brevetoxin which affects the neurosystem of organisms that ingest it either primarily or secondarily by prey items that are contaminated. Luckily for Emmie, she was caught early enough on that the toxin had not damaged her central nervous system too badly and with a few days of supportive fluid therapy, she started bouncing back; her heart rate came back up to a normal range, she became more active in her dry dock, and her eye swelling resolved. Today Emmie is a fast swimming, fast eating, beautiful little green sea turtle. She will be released on Thursday, December 1, in the Charlotte Harbor area.

Clearwater Marine Aquarium is currently one of the largest sea turtle rehabilitation facilities in Florida. The in-progress $12 million dollar expansion of CMA includes new, state-of-the-art rehabilitation facilities and will double the current capacity for rehabilitating turtles.


By Claudia Gunther, Education Dept.

It’s mid day and I got “The Question of the Day” from Lauren: ‘Would you like to go on the boat?’ ‘Sure’, I say as we wend our way downstairs from Dolphin Terrace and out to the dock where the Sea Life Safari is waiting for me. The crew is told that I’ll be joining them as the substitute crew member and with that I join Captain Richard, our own Captain Cathy and John, my fellow Education volunteer. ‘Oh, by the way’ Cathy says, ‘you have to work’ which gets a laugh from our passengers as we move out from the dock. Cathy takes the mic and tells the passengers about CMA and some of the things we’re going to see, then turns the narration over to Captain Richard who explains about the Intracoastal waterway, the Memorial Causeway and how the spoil islands were created.
We reach the designated area for deploying our net and Cathy explains that CMA has a permit to pull a net and that we report what we find to the State. John tells me that it’s time to get to work. First things first: I must put on a life vest because first and foremost is my/our safety. John explains where I need to stand (don’t get my feet in the curl of the rope as it’s going overboard lest I want to go with it) and how to deploy the net. Cathy adds that the rope will go fairly fast and not to get rope burn by holding on too tightly. Both are good tips. Next is the bucket brigade. John and I put 5 gallon buckets over the bow, fill them with water to fill the cooler that will house the critters we hope are in the net. Well, the buckets are easier said than done. There I am, on the bow of a moving boat, tossing this bucket, that’s attached to a fairly short rope, overboard. Well a couple times I needed John’s help because just like a kid with her hand in a cookie jar not wanting to let go of the cookies, I got too much water in the bucket and couldn’t lift it on board. Once we got the cooler filled it was time to pull in our net.
What a haul, a sea horse, lots of pinfish, cow fish, a stinging nettle who rightfully deserves its name, white grunts, sea bass, a smooth puffer fish, ghost shrimp, mangrove snapper which, per Cathy change their name to ‘lunch or dinner’ when they mature, filefish, several mojarra, and a burrfish that John said had nasty teeth and would bite . While our passengers were collecting shells and two hermit crabs on the spoil island we counted each fish, added their numbers on a record sheet and put them into containers for show and tell. Boy do Cathy and John know their fish. After we shoved off from the island John and I got to show our catch to the passengers. We would call out what was in the container and Cathy would talk about the fish while we took them around for the folks to look at and photograph. As we approached the Sand Key bridge one of the passengers spotted a dolphin making its way back into the Gulf. The final highlight of the trip, as we’re turning into the canal west of CMA, a pod of dolphins chasing their lunch.
Back at the dock the passengers went ashore and we all agreed it was a great trip. I know I had a great time and have a new appreciation for the “boat people” and what they do to make the guests’ trip enjoyable. It’s a lot different when you’re part of the crew instead of being a passenger. I particularly want to thank Lauren for asking me The Question of the Day, and Captain Cathy and John for their patience. And one last word for those of you who’ve never gone on the Sea Life Safari: Go.


For an overall fun family experience, feeding the sting rays is definitely a great choice. Adults revert to childish exuberance and children have an experience they will not forget.

There are a few guidelines and warnings for the feeding the sting rays:
a. Small children cannot swim with the rays. This becomes a possibility when they try to climb the pool walls and lean over as much as possible. Sting Rays do NOT want to share their pool.
b. Adults should not do Groucho Marx imitations while holding the fish between their fingers — unless they are prepared for the eye rolling and groans from their spouses and offspring. I think I spotted a Sting Ray rolling its eyes too.
c. Do not come near the tank if you do not appreciate the sharing of their water. Milo is the most generous in this matter.
d. Do not feel the need to be prim and proper and/or adult like during the feeding time. The return of childhood glee occurs for most adults unless they are complete grumps.
e. Remember that watches, bracelets, cameras and cell phones give the Sting Rays indigestion.
f. Do not wear “dry clean only” apparel. Salt water is not a favorable method of dry cleaning — You will get wet!!
g. Finally, and most important, have a great time!!!!

The methods for feeding the fish gobblers are quite easy:
a. The Groucho Marx Method—stick the fish between your two fingers and hold it down in the water so the Sting Ray can come on top of your hand and vacuum it from your fingers.
b. The “I am a coward and do not want any missing fingers” Method—put the fish on your fist and lower it in the water for the Sting Ray to come on top of your hand and suck up the fish. Not as much fun but it works.
c. If you observe the hungry fish mobsters tapping their fins on the side of the tank, do not be alarmed. They are complaining about the service and want fish NOW. If this warning is unheeded, be prepared to be splashed!

Fascinating Facts about CMA Sting Rays:
a. Unless Panama and Winter donate their pool, there will be no Mantra Rays at CMA. They reach wing spans of up to twenty nine feet across. Swimmers and boaters are fooled into thinking they have seen as shark because these tricksters will stick a portion of their fins out and it will look just like a shark fin—music from Jaws will not be playing !!!!
b. The six thousand gallon tank holds the Cow Nose and Southern Rays. Milo is the largest, followed by Spot. The “Mob” includes Stripe, Gilligan, et al. Point of interest question by a seven year old: “Do Cow Noses moo?” Answer from the Animal Behavior Staff??????
c. Three Cow Nose Rays can also be seen in the large tank with Thelma and Louise who do not rob from the fish but have been known to taste a few.
d. The small tank housing the baby Sting Rays share the Dolphin Deck where Hope is. While no hands are allowed in their tank, this reporter did coax a few to come over by talking to them. NO, I do not speak “Sting Rayese”.

Trivia Information About Sting Rays:

a. They cannot be heard giggling when they splash staff or visitors.
b. Warning: They will not be ignored. For those who ignore this fact: Be prepared to be wet—VERY wet.
c. With a “come hither” slap on the side of the tank, you are being warned about wanting to take notice of them
d. They enjoy being stroked on their fins which is soft and silk-like.
e. They do NOT want to be patted on their heads.
f. Their mouths are on their underside and are vacuum-like when they feed. They do not do “please or thank you” while being fed. How rude!
g. Their mouths are located underneath and there are seven series of flat teeth located on their dental plate. That’s dental plates not denture plates!
h. Their barbs are periodically clipped at CMA to prevent any injuries—Remember to do the Sting Ray Shuffle at the beach to avoid being stung.
i. The holes/circles on their heads are not their eyes. They are spiracles and prevent them from drowning. These allow the ray to draw oxygenated water from above and then the water is expelled through the gill slits on the underside.