Sunday, April 6, 2014

Spring Break 2014 Part 4---St. Pete Beach and Clearwater Marine Aquarium: The Dolphins

 This is the view we had from our hotel room. It was beautiful! The day we got here was a bit chilly still, and it was cold the 2nd day too. However, that is the day we had planned to go see Winter from Dolphin Tale, and so it worked out okay!

 Here is Winter. We got here JUST in time for our picture with Winter, so we didn't get to closely watch this presentation of how they get the tail on Winter. We learned a lot though, throughout the day. Winter only wears her fake tail for 10-15 minutes at a time, and they put it on her around three times a day. It is a workout for her, a kind of physical therapy. The rest of the time she swims in her unique way. She almost looks like an eel, the way she swims without the fake tail. What an amazing survival story she is.

 Here are the pictures that we took with Winter. She was beautiful!

 The dolphin above is Hope. Hope was stranded with her mother on a beach at a VERY young age. The mother died after the rescue, but Hope survived. Unfortunately, a dolphin mother is critical in the survival of a baby dolphin. The baby dolphin MUST be with her mother (or another adult female in the pod) for at least two years. Because the mother had left the pod, and Hope had, naturally, followed her, there was no other female dolphin to teach hope how to survive. Therefore, she is a life-long resident of Clearwater Marine Aquarium.

 There were many signs posted around the aquarium, informing the public about how/where the movie was filmed. The movie is amazing, amazing. However, much of it has been Hollywood-ized. For example, Winter was found by an older fisherman, not by a young boy. In fact, there were no children involved in the rescue of Winter, or in the rehabilitation of Winter. And Winter can not jump as she is shown jumping in the movie. She can't do it. However, the basics of the story are true; Winter was rescued after having her tail trapped in a crab trap,  lost her tail, began to swim in such a way that let her move around but was bad for her because of the over-use of muscles that dolphins don't usually use as much, which in turn was putting pressure on her spine. This could have been fatal to her. So, they designed a prosthetic tail for her to use. Those parts of the movie are true. I recommend this movie to EVERYONE, even grandmas! :)
 They found a long time ago, that dolphins like to paint! It started with a dolphin named Sunset. They wanted something else to help keep this dolphin entertained and so they gave her a paint brush, which she held in her mouth. She painted this turtle in several different sessions. It is on display in the aquarium. All the dolphins now paint. The kids both got a painting. Breccan's is a painting of just Winter's work, while BayLea got a collage of four different dolphin's work. What is so fascinating is that each dolphin (Panama...he died in December, Hope, Nicholas, and Winter) all have very different styles, one of them paints circular shapes, one paints hard straight lines, and one paints straight lines that start dark and end with a light stroke.

 This is Nicholas. Nicholas is another life-long resident of the aquarium. He was also beached with his mother at a very young age. He was covered in sunburn, 2nd and 3rd degree burns. He is unable to survive in the wild.

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