This small marine rescue center is worth a stop. The marine animals here (expect to see dolphins, otters, sting rays and sea turtles) have all been rescued after various injuries rendered them unable to live on their own. Most are released back to the wild once they are well, but a few are either too badly injured or too young to make it on their own and become permanent residents.
The most famous permanent resident is Winter the Dolphin. Winter lost her tail and has been rehabilitated and given a prosthetic tail. Winter's story was made into a major motion picture starring actors like Harry Connick Jr. and Ashley Judd called Dolphin Tale
Beacause the Clearwater Marine Aquarium's primary purpose is for rehabilitation, it doesn't have the visitor-friendly view tanks that you might expect at a major aquarium, but this is a unique chance to learn more about how humans can interact more safely with marine life. A small number of different dolphin encounter opportunities are available. Prices are high (e.g. $249 for a one hour "Wade With the Dolphins package) but group numbers are much smaller than you are likely to find in the larger programs at resorts or bigger aquariums.
We were the hosted guests of the Clearwater Marine Aquarium who gave us complimentary admission and a tour of the facility. As always, my opinions are my own.