Snowball has come home.
The life-sized replica of the famous albino dolphin will be displayed at the Port Royal Sound Maritime Center, which could open by the end of August at the former Lemon Island marina.
Snowball frequented St. Helena Sound in the 1950s before she was captured in 1962 and put on display at Seaquarium in Miami. There, "Carolina Snowball" was featured in Life and National Geographic magazines, appeared in episodes of "Flipper" and attracted 3 million visitors to the aquarium before she died in 1965.
Florida native Kevin Vanacore acquired the replica of Snowball from the Seaquarium in 2000 and had it restored. Since then, he has been looking for the perfect home for his beloved sculpture, which contains the dolphin's actual teeth and jawbone.
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Dick Stewart, board member of the Port Royal Sound Foundation, which is overseeing the new maritime center, had just the place. He called Vanacore early this year, suggesting Snowball be displayed there.
In March, Vanacore brought Snowball to Beaufort County in the back of his pickup truck, and the replica stayed on the couch in Stewart's guesthouse until it was moved to the maritime center last week. Vanacore retains ownership of the statue, but has loaned it to the foundation to display.
"It was really their mission statement -- to protect the environment and the waters," Vanacore said of his decision to lend the replica. "Snowball was such an integral part of that environment back in the '50s and '60s."
Follow reporter Laura Oberle at twitter.com/IPBG_Laura.