This #GivingTuesday, Clearwater Marine Aquarium is sharing stories about the big and small impacts our mission has. Whether it’s human inspiration, a small seahorse rescue, or big loggerhead sea turtles being released, through these stories we can change lives and make a difference.

Ellie Challis is a thirteen year-old aiming to compete in the 2020 Paralympics for swimming. Ellie was inspired to overcome a disability and learn to swim by Winter the dolphin. Ellie felt an instant connection with Winter the dolphin when she first watched the movie Dolphin Tale and found out it was a true story. Just like Ellie, Winter’s chance of survival at a young age was very slim. Ellie also lost her arms and legs, just like Winter lost her tail. However, Winter and Ellie surprised everyone, not only by surviving, but with their strength and ability. Winter the dolphin is one of several rescued animals that call Clearwater Marine Aquarium home. Although we are fundamentally a hospital for sick and injured marine life, we are able to do so much more by sharing the animals’ stories of survival. Their strength to overcome monumental obstacles inspires the human spirit, like Winter did for Ellie and many others. We are also able to educate young people on the preservation and conservation of our animals and environment.

Chex, a small green sea turtle was rehabilitated and released after ingesting a balloon and ribbon that was floating in the ocean. Chex’s story helped us bring attention to the issue of pollution in our oceans.

Cheeto, a small seahorse who was discovered by a young girl and brought to CMA for treatment, was successfully released.

This helped us demonstrate our commitment to rescuing all marine life, no matter how big and small. CMA is dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation and release of sick and injured marine animals. Every animal that comes through our doors arrives because it was found suffering from an illness or severe injury in the wild. Our ultimate goal is to release all animals back into the wild, but sometimes that would not be in the animal’s best interest. When release isn’t possible, we provide long-term residential care here at CMA where the animal is able to serve as an ambassador for its species.

On this #GivingTuesday, we hope you will join in the global movement to give back by giving to CMA and supporting our mission to protect and conserve marine animals and the environment. Share with others and inspire all of us who, just like you, feel compassion for and a connection with marine life, big and small.