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Clearwater Marine Aquarium welcomes new dolphin

Apollo, a two-year-old male dolphin, was rescued on Florida’s Space Coast.
Apollo arrived at his new home at Clearwater Marine Aquarium on Dec. 14, 2021.
Apollo arrived at his new home at Clearwater Marine Aquarium on Dec. 14, 2021. [ Courtesy of Clearwater Marine Aquarium ]
Published Dec. 14, 2021
Updated Dec. 14, 2021

Just over a month after the beloved Winter the Dolphin died, Clearwater Marine Aquarium announced it has been selected by the National Marine Fisheries Service to be the forever home for a new rescued male dolphin. He arrived at the aquarium at 4 a.m. today.

The 2-year-old bottlenose dolphin is named Apollo because he was rescued on Florida’s Space Coast. He stranded on Playalinda Beach on May 15, where rescuers noticed he was thin and had visible parasites on his dorsal fin, pectoral fins and fluke. After a consultation with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries, he was sent to SeaWorld Orlando for rehabilitation.

Jon Peterson, vice president of Zoological Operations at SeaWorld Orlando and head of the SeaWorld Orlando rescue team, said in a news release that after seven months of treatment and rehabilitation, Apollo’s health improved and they hoped he would make a complete recovery and be able to return to his natural environment.

“Unfortunately a hearing test performed by the National Marine Mammal Foundation (NMMF) revealed that Apollo has atypical hearing loss compromising his ability to echolocate,” Peterson said in the release.

The National Marine Fisheries Service determined he wasn’t a candidate for release.

Clearwater Marine Aquarium was selected for Apollo’s permanent home because of its history of providing care for rescued marine life, especially dolphins with hearing loss, Erin Fougères, NOAA Fisheries marine mammal stranding program administrator, noted in the release.

“It is because of the wonderful team work, respect, and professionalism executed by each organization that took part in Apollo’s rescue that he is able to take advantage of this second chance at life,” James “Buddy” Powell, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium’s executive director, said in the release. “As a working marine life hospital we are committed to providing the best care possible to each and every animal that needs our help, and we are honored that National Marine Fisheries chose us as the best home possible for Apollo. Please join us in welcoming him to our family!”

Guests can visit Apollo at the aquarium’s Ruth & J.O. Stone Dolphin Complex. Tickets are available at cmaquarium.org.