Home / News / Sudden Death Of Dolphin Hemingway Leaves Aquarium Staff Devastated

Sudden Death Of Dolphin Hemingway Leaves Aquarium Staff Devastated

Apr 08, 2023Apr 08, 2023

CLEARWATER, FL — Tears streaming down their faces, members of the animal care and veterinary teams consoled one another as they attempted to come to terms with the loss of another beloved dolphin resident at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.

About 1:30 a.m. Monday, Hemingway, an Atlantic bottlenose dolphin who had lived at the aquarium since June 2020, died surrounded by the vets and animal care team members who had cared for him over the past three years.

"Our team is heartbroken this morning," said aquarium spokeswoman Kelsey Long.

Hemingway was estimated to be about 37 years old. He was found stranded in shallow waters off Fiesta Key in July 2019. After Hemingway underwent extensive rehab for pneumonia, veterinarians discovered he was deaf, which would put him at a serious disadvantage in the wild.

In May 2020, the National Marine Fisheries Service decided the dolphin stood the best chance of survival at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, where he quickly bonded with his new "roomies," Apollo and Nicholas at the Ruth & J.O. Stone Dolphin Complex at the aquarium.

During his time at the aquarium, Hemingway enjoyed frolicking in the water with his friends, participating in enrichment activities like balancing on pool noodles and catching bubbles on his nose, and celebrating holidays and birthdays with treats and toys.

In turn, marine biologists gained invaluable insight into how dolphins cope with disabilities, while children with hearing impairments who visited Hemingway found inspiration in the way Hemingway dealt with his disability.

Animal care staff said they noticed a change in Hemingway's behavior late last week, and aquarium vet Dr. Shelly Marquardt promptly contacted a team of veterinary experts and a veterinary radiologist to assess him for a possible gastrointestinal problem.

"Together, our team did all that was possible to keep Hemingway comfortable," Marquardt said. "He will be missed by us all."

A necropsy will be performed to determine the cause of death.

For the past 50 years, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium has provided a home to dolphins like Hemingway who are unable to survive in the wild. The aquarium is equipped with a marine veterinary hospital for diagnosing and treating marine animals.

Unfortunately, not all marine animals brought to the hospital can be saved.

Only a year and three months earlier, in November 2020, Winter the dolphin — who starred in the Warner Bros. movie "Dolphin Tale" in 2011 with Harry Connick Jr., Ashley Judd, Morgan Freeman and Kris Kristofferson — died at the age of 14 from an intestinal torsion, a condition in which the intestines randomly twist on themselves and block the flow of blood.

Nearly a year later, P.J., the oldest dolphin living at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, died at the age of 51.


Still, experts with SeaWorld say Hemingway and P.J. lived longer than most Atlantic bottlenose dolphins.

The median life span for dolphins who live at aquariums is 22.8 years, compared to the median life span in the wild between 8.3 and 17.4 years.

D'Ann Lawrence White Related: Hemingway Makes Himself At Home At Clearwater Marine Aquarium Condolences Pour In For Winter The Dolphin; Memorial Set Nov. 20 Oldest Dolphin, PJ, Dies At Clearwater Marine Aquarium