Clearwater Marine Aquarium hopes to cash in on web series

The Clearwater Marine Aquarium gets back into show business Monday with the premiere of "Rescue-Clearwater" on YouTube. 

Executive director David Yates told FOX 13 News Friday two episodes are completed, with the second to be released the first of March.  In the meantime, he is negotiating. 

"This will be launched on digital but eventually you'll see this on TV," Yates said. "I'm talking to a number of networks right now."

The show attempts to capitalize on two motion pictures that fictionalized the rescues and rehabilitations of now-resident dolphins Winter and Hope.  With underwriting from Pinellas County's tourism bureau, CMA is self-producing a product that shows the real-life work of the CMA. 

Being "picked up" by a network would generate revenue needed for a planned $45- to $50-million expansion. 

"We'll have more space for turtles, a lot more space for dolphins, which we need to have. But also a lot more space for guests, which is key for us, and we'll have a parking garage for cars," Yates said. 

Earlier this month, the CMA received development approval from the city of Clearwater, clearing the way for final design and engineering work.

The not-for-profit is located on an island and is also exploring the possibility of using the Intracoastal Waterway right outside its door. 

"If we can get that privatized and find out it is quality enough water to use for resident and or rehab animals, we can have a number of animals in a natural habitat not even inside our current facility; just next door," Yates said. 

Holding pens in the Intracoastal Waterway could house more dolphin and/or sea turtles, "...but also one species we're looking at right now that we rescue but don't rehab are manatees," Yates added.