DeSantis’ Freedom First Budget includes $20 million to enhance and expand manatee acute care facilities
Clearwater, FL (June 16, 2022) – Florida Governor DeSantis signed a record $109.9 billion budget including $3.5 million directed for manatee rehabilitation pools at Clearwater Marine Aquarium. The funds are part of a record $20 million set to enhance and expand the State’s manatee acute care facilities and to restore spring access and habitat restoration in manatee concentrated areas.
Clearwater Marine Aquarium plans to break ground by the end of this summer on a 20’ x 30’ rehabilitation pool at its Island Estates location. When completed, the pool will be able to hold two manatee patients in need of care.
“For over a decade, Clearwater Marine Aquarium has assisted in rescuing, transporting, releasing and tracking wild manatees with our colleagues in the Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Partnership and throughout the Caribbean,” said President and Executive Director Dr. James “Buddy” Powell. “We are absolutely thrilled that we are now able to establish a new manatee research and rehabilitation facility here in Pinellas County.”
“The Clearwater Marine Aquarium is a Florida treasure, saving our precious marine life and giving the world stories of inspiration like Winter the Dolphin,” said Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor. “Amid a growing manatee crisis in Florida, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium is now on the front lines of the fight to rescue, rehabilitate, release and track these iconic Florida marine mammals and restore their habitats.”
At least 575 manatees have died this year through June 3, according to the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Last year, 1,101 manatees died, more than any year on record.
“Clearwater Marine Aquarium is exceptionally positioned to establish manatee rehabilitation facilities in Pinellas County. We have all seen the devastating news about record manatee deaths, reversing this will take immense coordination, resources and partnerships,” said Clearwater Mayor Frank Hibbard. “As a leader in the marine biology field, they are the forefront experts in manatee conservation and protection along with marine life rescue, rehabilitation and release.”
“Saving Florida’s manatees takes immense coordination, resources, and partnerships,” said Powell. “Clearwater Marine Aquarium is committed to this mission and our team of researchers, biologists and veterinarians are ready to assist with the continued influx of manatees affected by habitat loss, red tide, boat injuries, and cold stress syndrome.”
The acute care facility at CMA is part of a three-phase Manatee Survival Plan announced earlier this year. The second phase includes the construction of three manatee rehabilitation pools at CMA’s Fred Howard Park location in Tarpon Springs and the final phase involves a $10 million state-of-the-art facility back at CMA’s Island Estates location.
MEDIA CONTACT Kelsy Long, Clearwater Marine Aquarium, email@example.com.
- About Clearwater Marine Aquarium
- Clearwater Marine Aquarium (CMA) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit working marine rescue center dedicated to preserving our marine life and environment while inspiring the human spirit through leadership in education, research, rescue, rehabilitation and release. CMA is home to rescue dolphins, sea turtles, river otters, stingrays, nurse sharks and more. Winter, the dolphin’s story of survival after injury that caused her to lose her tail, has impacted millions of people around the world. A major motion picture, Dolphin Tale, highlighted her life story in 2011. The sequel, Dolphin Tale 2, was released in September 2014 and features the incredible story of Hope, a young resident dolphin of CMA. The mission and potential to change people’s lives differentiates Clearwater Marine Aquarium from any other aquarium in the world
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We believe in preserving our environment while inspiring the human spirit through leadership in the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of marine life; environmental education; research; and conservation.
A Florida non-profit 501(c)(3) organization