Friday, September 20, 2013

Meeting Winter from Dolphin Tale


This week the girls and I had the most amazing field trip, ever!

We went to Clearwater Marine Aquarium to see Winter, the dolphin. We had watched The Dolphin Tale this summer, and loved the movie. Maybe our favorite movie of the year, so touching and sweet. It is based on a true story of an injured dolphin, who lost her tail, and.. Wait, I won't give anything away, you just need to see the movie:)


The Aquarium is under major construction at the moment, and actually will close in October for the filming of the sequel, so if you plan on visiting, make sure to check their website first for dates.

Winter, Hope and Panama had just been relocated to a different pool, and I had read online some visitors had only seen Winter's head in the far corner of the pool, so I was preparing the girls we might not see her a whole lot.

As you can see, the pool area was roped off, so you couldn't get very close.


Here's she is! Checking us out. She made her 'tweetie bird' sounds at us - so cute! In the background you can see Hope's fin.


"Hi, Winter!"


We learned Winter does not use her prosthesis all the time, only for a training and practice during a couple of hours a day. (I tell you, you need to see the movie!!!) I think this one was one she had outgrown. It was heavy!!


Our mini field trip crew in front of Panama's pool.


A bit later we returned back to see Winter, and this time she gave us a bit of a show, showing how fast she can swim around the pool. She is amazing!! Here's a short video clip.


The Clearwater Marine Aquarium is an active rescue center for sea animals. There were turtles, sting rays, nurse sharks, and various other creatures you could see (and some, touch!).

This is what their website says:

We are truly one-of-a-kind and strive to improve daily. We are ambassadors of the sea!
Learn more about what we do and who we are by clicking on the options to the left.

Our Mission:
As a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, we believe in preserving our marine life and environment while inspiring the human spirit through leadership in education, research, rescue, rehabilitation, and release.

The picture above is of, Cooper, a paralyzed river otter. He was hit by a car, and now lives at CMA. He can swim fine with his strong front legs, and on ground he drags his back feet to move around.


There is a lot to see and learn at Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Your general admission tickets allows you to visit the facility (including Winter's pool area). It also gives you a trolley ride to their second facility "Dolphin Tale Adventure", which tells you more about the making of the movie, and has movie props, etc. We didn't have a chance to visit there.

To raise money for their rescue operations, CMA offers various other programs. You can wade with dolphins, paint with dolphins, have your picture taken with a dolphin, take sea safaris, and even assist Winter's trainer for 15 minutes. (More info here.) All these were out of our price range, but we added the Behind the Scenes Tour to our visit.

If you pay online beforehand there is a small discount. Just to give you an idea, we paid around $80 for the three of us for general admission, and the tour. If we had a full day at the aquarium (we went there after my doctor's appointment), we could have gotten a little more for our money by visiting the second facility. But as it was, we were exhausted after three hours. Part of the facility is out in the sun, and only some areas are air conditioned. It's hot here, y'all. (Does that sound southern enough?:)

In the photo above we are starting out our Behind the Scenes tour with Brittany (she was great!). Anyone recognize the doorway?

SeeWinter4 SeeWinter5

CMA rescues and releases a lot of sea turtles. Here's a volunteer working with Aaron, an injured green turtle.


We even got to see little baby turtles!


The Behind the Scenes tour was great. We saw areas usually closed for visitors, and could have even witnessed a surgery (Missy is glad we didn't:). We also saw a lot of areas from the movie, and even props like the famous blender, and the fish hook swallowed by a turtle.

SeeWinter5 SeeWinter6

After the tour we walked around some more. Here's another rescued turtle.

Cozi Cozi

As we were waiting for the last presentation to start, we walked over to the gift shop, and to our great shock we saw "Hazel", Cozi Zuehlsdorff, one of the main characters from the movie! Missy waved to her, and Cozi came right over to to meet us. She is so sweet! What a neat experience!!

Cozi was there for a special presentation on the new documentary: Winter, the Dolphin That Can. As sweet as the movie Dolphin Tale was, it still was a Hollywood version of what happened. We purchased a copy of the documentary, and hopefully will have a chance to watch it this weekend to learn more of the true story.

SeeWinter6 SeeWinter7

We finished our visit by watching Nicholas paint and swim and jump around in his pool.

Definitely a wonderful, worthwhile visit. We highly recommend Clearwater Marine Aquarium as a field trip or family trip destination! The west Florida beaches are pretty awesome, too ;-)

Hip Homeschool Hop Button

Tällä viikolla kävin tyttöjen kanssa upealla luokkaretkellä. Lääkärireissuni jälkeen menimme Clearwaterin akvaarioon, jossa pelastetaan ja hoidetaan loukkaantuneita merieläimiä. Siellä asuu myös delphiini Winter, josta on tehty elokuva The Dolphin Tale (en tiedä onko ilmestynyt suomeksi?). Elokuva siis perustuu tosi tapahtumiin, ja olimme nähneet elokuvan tänä kesänä. Ihana tarina! Näimme Winterin, sekä yhden elokuvan päähenkilöistä Cozi Zuehlsdorff'in, joka esitti Hazel-tyttöä. Olimme niin innoissamme, Cozi oli todella sympaattinen. Ja muutenkin meillä oli tosi kiva iltapäivä akvaariossa. Floridaan matkaavat, kannattaa käydä täällä! Tosin he sulkevat ovensa nyt lokakuusta alkaen noin neljäksi kuukaudeksi, koska ensi kuussa alkaa jatkoelokuvan filmaus.


  1. that was an awesome adventure. I can't wait to see the sequel to the movie.

  2. I know, Martha!! Little Miss has watched the first one quite a few times now... :)

  3. It really was, mountain mama. We don't usually buy t-shirts from places we go to, but I bought one for Little Miss. That is all she wants to wear now! I have to wash it every day:)

  4. Wow! Mikä mahtava kokemus! Tuleekohan elokuva suomessakin markkinoille? Mistähän tuon dokumentin saisi hankittua? Kyllä olette onnenpekkoja saadessanne tuollaisia elämyksiä kokea reissuillanne :)

    Nauttikaa! <3


  5. Wonderful pictures! Thanks for the vicarious tour.

  6. Tanja, luulisi, että elokuva on jo Suomessakin, muistaakseni tehty kaksi vuotta sitten? Dokumentti just vasta ilmestyi, eli sitä ehkä pitää odottaa.. Mutta jos oikeasti kiinnostaa, laita minulle postia, ehkä voin auttaa?

    Thank you, Jennifer!

  7. What an amazing day - and you met Cozi!! That is awesome! CMA is one of our all time favorite "field trip" destinations. We learn something new every time we visit. My son has a painting from one of the otters hanging is his room :-)

  8. How neat, Susan W!!! I didn't realize the otters paint, too. We saw Nicholas painting. Such a great place<3

  9. thanks for leaving me a note and for sharing this post! What an amazing place. We love the movie about Winter, Clara's socket for her little arm is made of Winter's Gel:) That movie makes this limb diff mama cry every time!
    Beautiful pictures!

  10. Gayly, the movie makes me cry, too.. It is so sweet! We started the documentary, but haven't finished it yet. Can't wait for the next movie, too!

  11. We've been to Clearwater numerous times and have driven by the marina but we still haven't made time to go there. It is on my list for this year's field trips. This past week we visited the Florida Aquarium in Tampa. It was awesome. We learned about the green turtles you have pics of- they are carnivores when they are young but grow up to only eat algae and plants. The chlorophyll from the algae/plants is stored in their fatty deposits which makes them green. I have a few pics on my blog but plan to do some dedicated posts later strictly highlighting our field trips. We are studying Florida and hope to get around the state more.