CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA)- A rescued two-year-old dolphin, named Apollo, has found his forever home at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium after being rescued from the East Coast of Florida.
“He’s acclimating very quickly to his new environment here and that’s exactly what we want to see. Normal behavior, for Apollo, looks like a lot of playtime,” Clearwater Marine Aquarium Animal Care Specialist Evan Keim said.
Apollo is the first dolphin to be added to the aquarium since the death of Winter, who was known for her prosthetic tail and for starring in the Dolphin Tale movies. Winter died on Nov. 11 from intestinal torsion, or twisted intestines.
He was rescued in May after he was found stranded on Playalinda Beach, approximately 20 miles from where Winter was rescued in 2005. Apollo had visible parasites on his dorsal fin, pectoral fins, and fluke, and was taken to SeaWorld Orlando for rehab, the aquarium said.
After seven months of treatment at SeaWorld Orlando, the rescue team hoped to return Apollo back to his natural environment. However, when a hearing test was performed on him, it was discovered that he had hearing loss which affected his ability to echolocate.
“Echolocation is how they kind of navigate their environment, hunt and forage for their fish and also avoid predators so without that ability, he wouldn’t be able to hunt and feed himself and he wouldn’t be able to survive out in the wild,” Keim said.
According to NOAA Fisheries administrators, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium was chosen as Apollo’s future home because of their experience with rescued marine life, especially dolphins with hearing loss.
“Each one of our residents have a very unique story. I think there are many people in the world that can correlate to each one of their stories . Apollo fits right into that, he’s going to live on with Winter’s legacy,” Keim said.