From playful dolphins to graceful sea turtles to slow-moving manatees, the world’s oceans are full of life. However, these animals face threats from a variety of sources, from pollution to habitat loss to human interaction. That’s where organizations such as Clearwater Marine Aquarium (CMA) step in. CMA plays a vital role in marine rescue and rehabilitation in Florida, working to save the lives of injured and stranded marine animals. In this post, we will explore the incredible work CMA does in conserving marine life. You can learn more in our Virtual Fieldtrip with CMA on October 11, at 1:30pm ET. Register here!
A Mission of Rescue and Rehabilitation
Founded in 1972, Clearwater Marine Aquarium (CMA) was created to be a small marine science center. Over the years, it has evolved into a globally recognized nonprofit organization on a mission to rescue, rehabilitate, and release marine life, as well as educate the public on these creatures and marine ecosystems. CMA’s core values revolve around caring for marine animals are conserving their habitats.
- RESCUE OPERATIONS: CMA has a dedicated rescue team that responds to calls about stranded, injured, or sick animals along the west coast of Florida. Many of the animals they rescue are found by residents, park rangers, fishermen, and visitors–so make sure to be on the lookout if you are in Florida! Their team of specially trained personnel consists of staff biologists, interns and volunteers. CMA coordinates with local marine life rescue organizations and other agencies to be efficient in responding to calls for help. The team rescues a variety of marine animals, including dolphins, whales, porpoises, sea turtles, manatees, river otters, and seabirds.
- REHABILITATION: Once sick or injured animals are brought to CMA’s facility, a team or veterinarians, marine experts, and volunteers care for them. The animals receive specially designed medical treatment, nutrition, and rehabilitation in state-pf-the-art facilities. A large part of their rehab effort is in minimizing the animals’ interaction with humans, so they can ensure that the animals can be successfully released back into the wild.
- OUTREACH AND EDUCATION: CMA is committed to educating the public about marine conservation. Their facility offers engaging educational programs and interactive exhibits that teach visitors about marine ecosystems and the harmful impact some human activities have on them. Through these initiatives, CMA hopes that visitors will make more sustainable and eco-responsible choices.
CMA’s efforts to rescue and rehabilitate marine animals have resulted in many successful stories—here are some of their remarkable achievements!
“Winter the Dolphin,” Clearwater Marine Aquarium
- Winter the Dolphin: Probably the most famous animal to ever reside at CMA, Winter the dolphin captured hearts across the nation after she lost her tail in a crab trap at only two months old. With the help of CMA’s dedicated team and advanced prosthetic technology, Winter survived against all odds and made a full recovery! Winter’s story is a wake-up call to the real dangers animals face because of human effects on the wild. Through activities such as pollution and fishing, dolphins, sea turtles, and other marine life are susceptible to entanglement in and ingestion of fishing lines or other gear, which can seriously injure or kill them.
- Sea Turtle Rehabilitation: CMA has played a critical role in rehabilitating and releasing thousands of sea turtles. Sea turtles may need rescuing and rehabilitation from a variety of issues, including boat strike or entanglement injuries, cold stun symptoms, buoyancy disorders, and fibropapilloma tumors (fun fact: there are only six facilities in Florida that treat turtles with fibropapilloma virus, and CMA’s turtle rehab center is one of them!).
Conservation Beyond Rescue
Beyond rehabilitating and rescuing marine animals, CMA participates in a variety of conservation and research efforts to protect marine habitats. Through working with other organizations, conducting studies, and advocating for marine preservation policies, CMA strives to construct a brighter future for marine life.
By supporting and spreading awareness about organizations like Clearwater Marine Aquarium, we can all work toward preserving the majestic marine world for future generations.