Rex, a resident rough-toothed dolphin at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, has died, the organization announced Tuesday. A study will be performed to determine the cause of the sudden death.
The announcement comes six weeks after the aquarium lost a rescued dolphin named Hemingway, who died from gastrointestinal distress.
“It is with heavy hearts that we announce the sudden passing of resident rough-toothed dolphin, Rex,” the aquarium announced on its Twitter account. “It was our privilege to care for Rex, he was loved by our CMA family and guests from around the world.”
Rex was stranded on St. George Island in Franklin County, near the Florida Panhandle, on April 19, 2019. He was rescued by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Gulf World Marine Institute before calling the Clearwater aquarium home in 2020. He was in poor condition, but was brought back to health, aquarium officials said. He was determined to have significant hearing loss, making him nonreleasable.
“For several years his health remained stable, but last week animal care staff noticed a change in Rex’s behavior, including his decline in eating,” the aquarium reported. “When his condition worsened, animal care staff intervened to monitor him 24 hours a day and provide Rex veterinary support and care to keep him comfortable. Despite extensive efforts, Rex passed away on March 6. A necropsy, which is like an autopsy for a human, is scheduled to try and determine the cause of death.”
The aquarium is a working marine animal hospital, made famous in the “Dolphin Tale” movies for unusual rescue efforts, such as fitting Winter the dolphin with a prosthetic tail. It specializes in providing care to marine animals that need recovery and rehabilitation before being released “or providing a forever home to those that cannot be released due to physical limitation.”
“Our team is devastated by Rex’s passing. We know that the knowledge gained from caring for him and the lessons Rex taught us, will help us and other marine mammal specialists care for his species in the future,” said James “Buddy” Powell, chief zoological officer for CMA.