CLEARWATER — Indy, a rescued bottlenose dolphin who lived at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium for nearly six years, died unexpectedly after his handlers noticed odd behavior, aquarium officials said Friday.
"He was in good health, so we've very surprised," said David Yates, CEO of the aquarium. "We have no clue as to what the cause was."
The male dolphin, who aquarium officials estimated was about 9 years old, was taken to the University of Florida, where a necropsy is being performed to determine the cause of death. Aquarium officials said it could take weeks or months to get the results.
Four dolphins remain at the aquarium: Panama, Nicholas, an unnamed calf and the most famous of them all, Winter, the female dolphin with a prosthetic tail who is the subject of a feature film scheduled to be released in September.
Indy died early Thursday morning surrounded by aquarium staff. They had been keeping a close eye on him since Wednesday when he began displaying irregular behavior.
"Everyone is shocked and sad," said aquarium spokeswoman Krista Rosado. "It's like losing a member of your family."
She did not have details about what alarmed Indy's handlers.
Indy arrived at the aquarium after being rescued from Indian Rocks Beach on May 3, 2004. He was unable to swim, and suffered from shark and dolphin bites. After recovering at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, he was returned to Clearwater, and his name was changed from Mayo to Indy to reflect the beachfront where he was rescued.
Although he made a good recovery, Indy was considered non-releasable because he lacked full hunting and other survival skills.