WHAT WE DO
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Rescue, Rehab and Release
We are a unique facility, specializing in the rescue, rehabilitation and release of sick or injured marine animals. All the animals that come through our doors arrive because they were suffering from an illness or severe injury in the wild. A majority of our animals were and are found by local residents, fishermen, park rangers, or even visitors to the area. We have a 24-hour emergency stranding line (727-441-1790, ext. 234) to report a marine animal emergency, and a CMA staff member is paged to respond to the emergency no matter what time it is. If an animal needs our assistance in the middle of the night, we will be there. Once the animal arrives at our hospital, a team of experienced CMA staff biologists, veterinarians and volunteers create a rehabilitation plan for the animal specifically catering to its injury or illness. Sometimes the injuries are so severe, or the animal is so young, that it would not be in the animal's best interest to release it back into the wild. CMA works with agencies such as National Marine Fisheries and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to make these decisions. If the animal is unable to be released back into the wild, it becomes a permanent member of the CMA family, and lives here to serve as an ambassador for their species to help us promote environmental conservation.
Over the years, CMA has successfully rehabilitated and released numerous marine animals. One of the most important factors to determine if an animal can return to the wild, is if they can display they have maintained their hunting skills.
There have been many successful releases of dolphins, sea turtles and river otters throughout the years. Each animal was cared for individually according to their injuries and given a name, as they have personalities just like we do. Even though it's hard to say goodbye to these amazing animals after a successful rehab, each one of them left their mark on the hearts of all who cared for them and will always be remembered.
Environmental education plays an important role in Clearwater's local marine community and the CMA team works hard to lead the charge in educational excellence. Not only is CMA able to share conservation expertise and amazing animal rehab stories, we also offer solutions to help prevent some of the injuries from occurring in the first place. We convey this through a variety of hands-on educational opportunities, including eco-boat tours, kid's camps, behind the scenes tours, off-site presentations and animal exhibits. Our wide-screen theater and video displays share a world of animal rescue and treatment rarely seen.One of our major missions at CMA is to raise environmental awareness through marine animal care. Our unique and exciting animal work has long been a popular topic among school children of all ages. We welcome teachers to integrate the animals and their amazing rehab stories into the curriculum, helping give a charismatic face to environmental concerns.
Educational school trip programs add a visual and fun component to marine animal learning techniques. We have programs designed for all education levels. The programs feature hands-on lectures, guided private tours, private eco-boat cruises, and dolphin presentations. With the use of technology, we have the ability to reach classrooms around the world with CMA L.I.V.E. virtual education programs. Our monthly educational speaker series, Making Waves, introduces participants to experts on a variety of topics and is free to the general public.
Sea Turtle Nesting
In addition to our sea turtle rehabilitation work, we also are honored to have been selected by Pinellas County to monitor nearly 26 miles of Pinellas County's coast line and report on any nesting activity. The combination of releasing injured and sick turtles back into the wild while ensuring as many hatchlings as possible make it into the Gulf is our way of protecting these species from extinction. Our sea turtle nesting work involves early morning patrols to locate new nesting sites, and late night patrols to check existing nests for hatchlings. The morning patrols are usually done by staff, interns, and volunteers who are trained to recognize the tracks left behind by the nesting females. Once we find these tracks, we can locate the egg cavity and mark off the nest site for further observations. We also GPS-locate the nest to ensure its location remains easy to find for daily observation.
When the nests are ready to hatch, we cover the nest with a nest cage and have volunteers watch the nests from 10 pm until 2 am. These cages are essential in our area due to development on our beaches, since the turtles emerge at night and head toward bright lights. When they emerge into the cage we can then make sure they make it to the water safely.
Question: How many sea turtle hatchlings have been released into the Gulf of Mexico by the CMA staff and volunteer team in since 2005?
Nesting begins in May and the last nest will usually hatch by the end of October. Our area averages about 120 nests per season and each nest can contain, on average, 100 to 110 eggs.
What is Enrichment?
Types of Enrichment
Enrichment Wish List
- Rope (large and small widths &lengths)
- PVC piping (both large and small pieces &both long and short chunks)
- Large "car wash" straps
- Large plastic storage bins
- Natural logs
- Grass sod
- Live enrichment (minnows, crickets, crawdads, etc.)
- Disco ball
How Can I Become Involved?
Are you interested in directly helping to enrich the lives of our resident animals? There are several ways you can "get your hands wet"! You can always donate enrichment materials from our wish list, as this list is updated fairly often and we are always in need of new things. You can also become a volunteer on the Enrichment Team to assist with animal enrichment activities on-site, conduct Enrichment Presentations for the public, and contribute your creativity and ideas to the online forum. We also encourage groups of people to brainstorm, assemble, and participate in unique single-day enrichment projects for our animals. CMA also works with special-needs groups who feel they could obtain a mutual benefit from doing enrichment sessions with our resident animals. If any of these activities sounds like something you'd like to do, please email email@example.com to discuss further details!