Clearwater Marine Aquarium isn’t your typical aquarium.

When we visited this marine life hospital in November for our Meetings Today LIVE! South 2019 event, we learned it’s an event partner with star power for planners organizing meetings in Clearwater Beach, Florida.

From its CSR options to an expanding event space and famous dolphin resident, here’s what the Clearwater Marine Aquarium can offer meetings.

Watch the Video: Interview with Bill Potts, chief marketing and revenue officer at Clearwater Marine Aquarium

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Activities with Clearwater Marine Aquarium

The Clearwater Marine Aquarium is firstly a marine life hospital whose mission is to recuse, rehabilitate and release (if possible) marine animals. Many animals have come through the aquarium for care throughout the years, but its most popular resident is Winter the Atlantic bottlenose dolphin, made famous in the movie Dolphin Tale.

The Clearwater Marine Aquarium rescued Winter when she was just a few months old, found entangled in a crab trap line that cut off circulation to her tail flukes. After she was transported to the aquarium for treatment, her tail could not be saved.

Going against the odds, Winter adapted to her new physical form. (According to the aquarium, most dolphins found caught in crab trap lines don’t survive.) The aquarium fashioned a prosthetic tail for Winter, and though she couldn’t be released back into the wild, she now thrives at the aquarium and even inspired the movie for which she’s now famous.

Winter’s story is inspiring to many, especially those who go through hardships themselves. Our Meetings Today LIVE! group partnered with the aquarium for a CSR activity that benefitted children at the nearby Children’s Cancer Center in Tampa. We decorated pillowcases with Winter’s likeness on them with attached messages of encouragement and perseverance.

Photo: Meetings Today LIVE! South group makes pillowcases for children at Children’s Cancer Clinic in Tampa. Credit: Danielle LeBreck

It’s just one example of how meetings groups can work with the aquarium to give back to the Clearwater community.

“A lot of what we do here is inspire kids around the world. If Winter can, they can,” Potts said. “We have all sorts of opportunities on the CSR side for meetings.”

[Check out our Meetings Today LIVE! West 2019 Event Video Highlights]

Aquarium Expansion to Deliver Additional Event Space

Not only can groups partner with the aquarium for meaningful community work, they can also meet at the aquarium in its new event space, coming with a massive expansion at the aquarium expected to be completed in mid-to-late 2020.

Photo: Pillowcase delivery with inspirational messages. Credit: Victoria Desilvio

“We are going to quintuple the amount of guest space, triple the amount of animal care space,” Potts explained. Some of the highlights of the expansion include:

  • 7,200 square feet of banquet space
  • 5,000 square feet of premeeting space
  • A 300-seat theater

All the spaces will overlook the bay. The expansion will also give the aquarium the ability to house twice the number of animals it can now.

Photo: Clearwater Marine Aquarium expansion rendering. Credit: Clear Water Aquarium 

Potts said that the aquarium also works closely with nearby Clearwater Beach hotels through corporate sponsorships and coordinating events onsite or bringing CSR activities to the hotels.

The Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach—the host hotel for Meetings Today LIVE! South 2019—even has new aquatic-themed rooms that feature Winter and other aquarium animals, and when those rooms are booked, a portion of the proceeds goes back to the aquarium.

Group Tours of Clearwater Marine Aquarium

The aquarium can arrange group tours in which visitors can see permanent residents up close and learn about recent rescue missions.

“We rescued five pilot whales back in July, just down the road about five miles from here,” Potts said. “We were able to release three the day we rescued them, then we released the other two within 48 hours after we did a little bit of rehabilitation with them.”

Potts also noted the aquarium does turtle releases often. Permanent residents at the aquarium include a few more dolphins, nurse sharks, otters and pelicans.

Photo: Sea turtle at Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Credit: Clearwater Marine Aquarium

Groups can also arrange a variety of eco-boat tours in partnership with the aquarium to learn more about the seasonal wildlife and local marine animal populations.

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If you are interested in attending Meetings Today LIVE! in 2020, we are off to the Island of Hawaii; Milwaukee; Park City, Utah; and Orlando. Inquire now!