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Clearwater Marine Aquarium welcomes new rescued dolphin 'Apollo'

The aquarium says Apollo has hearing loss, which compromises his ability to echolocate. Because of this, he wasn't able to be released back into the wild.

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Welcome, Apollo! Clearwater Marine Aquarium just announced it has a new rescued dolphin.

CMA says the National Marine Fisheries Service chose the aquarium to be Apollo's forever home. 

“We are overjoyed to welcome a new family member to CMA,” Kelly Martin, VP of Zoological Care, said in a statement. “Coming off the heels of Winter’s rescue anniversary on December 11th 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.” 

Bottlenose dolphins Hope and Nicholas and rough-toothed dolphin Rudolph were all rescued in December, the aquarium says. 

CMA says Apollo gets his name because he was rescued on Florida's Space Coast.

The 2-year-old dolphin was found stranded on May 15 on Playalinda Beach, which happens to be about 20 miles from where Winter the Dolphin was rescued in 2005, according to CMA. 

Apollo was stranded on the beach and rescuers say he was thin and had visible parasites on his dorsal fin, pectoral fines and fluke, CMA says. He was then taken to rehab at SeaWorld Orlando. 

“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, VP of Zoological Operations at SeaWorld Orlando and Head of the SeaWorld Orlando Rescue Team, said in a statement.  

“Unfortunately a hearing test performed by the National Marine Mammal Foundation (NMMF) 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," Peterson continued. 

Apollo is just over 6-feet long and weighs about 200 pounds. 

CMA was chosen as Apollo's home "due to their history for providing excellent care for rescued marine life and especially dolphins who exhibit hearing loss," Dr. Erin Fougères, NOAA Fisheries Marine Mammal Stranding Program Administrator, said in a statement.

Guests will be able to visit Apollo at his new home at Clearwater Marine Aquarium's Ruther & J.O Stone Dolphin Complex.

“It is because of the wonderful teamwork, respect, and professionalism executed by each organization that took part in Apollo’s rescue that he is able to take advantage of this second chance at life,” said CMA Executive Director Dr. James “Buddy” Powell in a statement. 

“As a working marine life hospital we are committed to providing the best care possible to each and every animal that needs our help, and we are honored that National Marine Fisheries chose us as the best home possible for Apollo. Please join us in welcoming him to our family!”

RELATED: Record-breaking number of dolphin calves documented in Sarasota Bay for 2021

RELATED: Winter the Dolphin will live on at Clearwater Marine Aquarium

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