Outside experts brought in to evaluate care at Clearwater Marine Aquarium

An 8-year-old dolphin named Rex that died this week at Clearwater Marine Aquarium is now the fourth dolphin to die there in the last 16 months. 

Over the last two decades, three dolphins have died there. The death is prompting officials to bring in "outside experts" to evaluate their habitat, water quality and vet care.

Many of the dolphins are rescues or have been injured and can't be released back into the wild.

Perhaps the most famous is Winter the Dolphin, well-known for having a prosthetic tale which inspired the movie Dolphin Tale. She died in November 2021 from intestinal torsion as explained by Dr. Shelly Marquardt when we spoke with her at the time it happened.

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"What this is actually the intestines twist on themselves and cut off the blood supply to those loops of intestines," Marquardt said.

The location of the torsion made it impossible to reach through surgery.

"There was nothing that we could have done. We take great comfort in knowing that we did everything we could for her, and we made her as comfortable as possible, and ultimately she passed away with her caregivers and all the people that loved her the most," Marquardt said.

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Meanwhile, the cause of Rex's death is still unclear. A necropsy is currently pending.

Because of the recent string of deaths CMA CEO Joe Handy says they've been bringing "outside experts" to evaluate the dolphins’ habitat, water quality and vet care. He told the Associated Press, "The animals that come to us are already challenged." He went on to say: "The reason they come to us is because they can’t survive on their own, they are deemed non-releasable, so we do our best to help them and ensure they live as long as they can."