Aquarium in Florida welcomes ‘Apollo’ as newest rescued resident dolphin

CLEARWATER, Fla. — A rescued male dolphin will be swimming at the same Florida aquarium that housed Winter, the beloved prosthetic-tailed mammal who starred in 2011′s “Dolphin Tale” movie.

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Apollo, a 6-foot-long, 200-pound bottlenose dolphin, was welcomed to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, officials said in a news release on Tuesday.

The 2-year-old dolphin was added to the aquarium since the death of Winter on Nov. 11. Winter died from intestinal torsion, or twisted intestines, according to a news release.

The Clearwater aquarium was selected by the National Marine Fisheries Service to be Apollo’s home.

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“We are overjoyed to welcome a new family member to CMA,” Kelly Martin, vice president of the aquarium’s zoological care division, said in a statement. “Coming off the heels of Winter’s rescue anniversary on Dec. 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.”

Apollo was rescued on May 15, 2021, after he was found stranded on Playalinda Beach, approximately 20 miles from where Winter was rescued in 2005, according to WFLA-TV. The area is near the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, which is how Apollo got his name. He had visible parasites on his dorsal fin and pectoral fins and was taken to SeaWorld Orlando for rehab, aquarium officials said.

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“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,” Jon Peterson, vice president of zoological operations at SeaWorld Orlando who doubles as head of the park’s rescue team, said in a statement. “Unfortunately a hearing test performed by the National Marine Mammal Foundation 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.”

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Clearwater aquarium officials said Apollo will live in the Ruth & J.O. Stone Dolphin Complex, where Winter resided, WFTS-TV reported. He will live with two other bottlenose dolphins, Hope and Nicholas, and rough-toothed dolphin Rudolph, according to WFLA. The three dolphins were also rescued during the month of December, the aquarium said.