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A Winter vacation during the middle of the Florida Summer

Recently, Kaitlyn celebrated her 11th birthday. Please no comments about how old I am getting, I beg you! I already see it every morning when I get up, I don't need reminders from others.

Anyhow ...

As part of our celebration she asked if we could spend a day at an aquarium. Christy was able to get a great deal on the entry fees to Clearwater Marine Aquarium, so we decided that would be a great place to go.

Turns out, it is a fantastic marine aquarium to visit. While they have sea animals there you can check out, they are also, primarily, a rescue and re-habituate facility. Which means, they are trying to help these animals recover so they can go live back in the wild. And since the Clearwater Aquarium is right down the street from one of America's best beaches, you really can't go wrong paying them a visit.

Here are some of the highlights:

- A petting and feeding tank with rays (they feel like silky, soft, velvet to the touch)
- An excellent series personalized touch tanks with live sea creatures (sponges, crabs, and urchins)
- Huge sea turtles
- And several dolphin tanks


One of the most important visitors to the Marine aquarium is Winter. She is a dolphin who was caught in a crab net at three months old, and had to have her tail fins amputated. She went on to re-learn how to swim without them. And the aquarium also had a new tail fluke donated and designed for her to help her swim again.

In the process of the amputation, she has become a worldwide inspiration to war veterans and other disabled community members who have found, in her, a spokesman who reaches to them across racial, social, and political boundaries. That may be a little over-dramatic, but it is definitely a cool story. So cool, in fact, that there is a major motion picture that will be starting next month based on Winter's tale. It will star Harry Connick, Ashley Judd, and Morgan Freeman.

Here's a video I took of Winter in her tank.


We'll put up some pictures and more videos in a few days, when we get the chance.

If you're ever in the area, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium is definitely a worthwhile stop along the way.
Al

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