TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A rescued dolphin named Apollo has found its forever home at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
The aquarium said on Tuesday that it welcomed the 2-year-old male to its dolphin family.
Apollo is the first dolphin to be added to the aquarium since the death of Florida’s most famous dolphin, Winter. Winter, who was widely known for her prosthetic tail and starring in the Dolphin Tale movies, died on Nov. 11 from intestinal torsion, or twisted intestines.
Apollo was rescued on May 15 after he was found stranded on Playalinda Beach, approximately 20 miles from where Winter was rescued in 2005. He had visible parasites on his dorsal fin, pectoral fins, and fluke, and was taken to SeaWorld Orlando for rehab, the aquarium said.
“After nearly seven months of intensive treatment and rehabilitation, Apollo’s health improved and we had every hope that he would make a complete recovery and be able to return to his natural environment,” said Jon Peterson, VP of Zoological Operations at SeaWorld Orlando and Head of the SeaWorld Orlando Rescue Team. “Unfortunately a hearing test performed by the National Marine Mammal Foundation (NMMF) revealed that Apollo has atypical hearing loss compromising his ability to echolocate. Due to his hearing loss, NMFS determined Apollo was not a candidate for release.”
“Due to their history for providing excellent care for rescued marine life and especially dolphins who exhibit hearing loss, Clearwater Marine Aquarium was selected as Apollo’s permanent home,” said Dr. Erin Fougères, NOAA Fisheries Marine Mammal Stranding Program Administrator.
Apollo will reside at the aquarium’s Dolphin Complex, with bottlenose dolphins Hope and Nicholas, and rough-toothed dolphin Rudolph. The three dolphins were also rescued during the month of December, the aquarium said.
“We are overjoyed to welcome a new family member to CMA,” said Kelly Martin, VP of Zoological Care. “Coming off the heels of Winter’s rescue anniversary on December 11 and her death in November, this new dolphin is a burst of new life and energy that our team is so excited to embrace. December truly is our magical month at CMA.”