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HISTORY and MISSION

Why We Exist

Our Mission:We believe in preserving our marine life and environment while inspiring the human spirit through leadership in education, research, rescue, rehabilitation, and release. We are a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.

Our Vision: CMA is the leader in collaborative partnerships which support marine environmental awareness, research, and stewardship.

CMA inspires passion to respect and protect our marine life and environment for future generations.

Our vision is to impact the nations with the messages of environmental awareness and respect for marine life. Though we are best known for our physical location in beautiful Clearwater Beach, Florida, we have developed a global media platform allowing us to reach millions with our vision, well beyond the guests who come to our facility. We believe in thinking big, and doing big things. Our only limitations are the limitations we put on our self. In the spirit of Steve Irwin, let's all become "wildlife warriors" and deliver a better planet to future generations.

Our History: In 1972, a group of dedicated volunteers decided it was time to establish a permanent marine biology learning center in our area. The Sea-Orama, a mounted fish exhibit at Clearwater Marina, had been in storage for several years. Hoping for a larger exhibit, perhaps with live animals to observe, we were incorporated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization under the name Clearwater Marine Science Center (CMSC). Soon a search for a site was underway for the prospective inside building facility. In 1978, the city of Clearwater agreed to donate our current facility, an abandoned water treatment plant, to CMSC. With its huge holding tanks and bayside location, the building was a perfect fit for a marine facility's needs. In 1979, marine biologist Dennis Kellenberger was hired as CMSC's Executive Director; his main duties were teaching classes and spearheading a massive remodeling effort. Summer camp classes for youngsters which are operated by the CMA Education Department have been extraordinarily popular here ever since. Little by little, the cement and steel building was modified for aquarium purposes and in 1980 was granted a USDA Research Facility permit, allowing it to prepare two 65,000 gallon tanks for the rehabilitation of dolphins, whales and sea turtles. In 1981, the first exhibit room, featuring fish from the original Sea-Orama, was opened to the public. Over the next few years, thanks to individual and corporate donations and immense volunteer efforts, CMSC continued to grow. Many animals were cared for, and in 1984 an Atlantic bottlenose dolphin named "Sunset Sam" was rescued and given a permanent home at the center. In the 1990's, as renovations continued to provide more public area and education programs, our name was changed to Clearwater Marine Aquarium (CMA) to reflect the increasing level of community interaction. Today, Clearwater Marine Aquarium is an internationally respected center for animal care, public education and marine research. Yet, in spite of tremendous growth and a global presence, we also remain a "neighborhood" aquarium, a place where children and adults alike can visit anytime to wonder at the unending diversity, grace and beauty of the creatures of the sea. We invite everyone to visit often and soon to share in the environmental excellence and caring of our waters and marine life, no matter where you may live.