CMA Continues to Tackle 3 R's Plus More Educational Offerings & Improvements
Photo/Text by Renee Burrell
Winter the dolphin who lost her tail in a crab trap accident and is being fitted with an innovative prosthetic tail recently returned home to Clearwater. But it was she who from her newly refurbished tank seemed to welcome visitors back to CMA during their grand reopening Tuesday, as shown here, taking in not just air, but her fans and the camera too
CLEARWATER -- The Clearwater Marine Aquarium (CMA) reopened Tuesday after undergoing renovations the past six weeks. CMA is a non-profit that rescues, rehabilitates and releases marine animals and hosts the community's educational think tank for marine preservation education. The interior of the facility has been updated and improved and now boasts added exhibits and viewing areas.
CMA has been housed in a 60 year old, former city owned water treatment facility that they rescued and turned into an aquarium in 1979 at 249 Windward Passage on Island Estates.
The structure is in its final stages of rehabilitation but is open to the public Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The reopening was kicked off in CMA's new 120 seat IMAX-like theater with David Yates, CMA's CEO, Clearwater Vice Mayor John Doran, Restaurant owner Frank Chivas and others describing the exhibits that are already completed and giving updates on those still in progress.
The cost for renovations is expected to reach $750,000 over the next few months as the second phase of remodeling is completed. Funding for the overhaul came from a one time grant of $225,000 from the city of Clearwater and revenues generated from guest admissions, private events, fundraisers, summer camp programs, gift shop sales and private donations.
Upgrades have included removing roofing over the dolphin tanks to give them additional light and jumping room, expanded viewing for visitors from the balconies and show area, plus a new underwater viewing area to allow visitors to see the dolphins submerged in tanks.
A life-size statue created by world renowned marine life sculptor, Donjo, of Winter the tailless dolphin was also unveiled. Winter was brought to CMA for rehabilitation in December, 2005 and has since brought international attention to the aquarium as they partner with Hanger Orthopedic Group, Inc. to develop a prosthetic tail and train her to swim normally. She and another dolphin, Panama, were kept at the Mote Aquarium in Sarasota while their tanks were resurfaced.
For more information go to: cmaquarium.org or phone CMA at :(727) 441-1790.
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