Winter (dolphin)
Winter is a bottlenose dolphin
Bottlenose Dolphin
Bottlenose dolphins, the genus Tursiops, are the most common and well-known members of the family Delphinidae, the family of oceanic dolphins. Recent molecular studies show the genus contains two species, the common bottlenose dolphin and the Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin , instead of one...

 at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium
Clearwater Marine Aquarium
The Clearwater Marine Aquarium is a non-profit organization in Clearwater, Florida dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation and release of injured marine animals, public education, animal-assisted therapy and research....

 in Clearwater, Florida
Clearwater, Florida
Clearwater is a city located in Pinellas County, Florida, US, nearly due west of Tampa and northwest of St. Petersburg. In the west of Clearwater lies the Gulf of Mexico and in the east lies Tampa Bay. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 108,787. It is the county seat of...

, widely known for having a prosthetic tail. She is the subject of the film Dolphin Tale, a dramatization of her story. Winter was found off the coast of Florida in December 2005, caught in a crab trap, which resulted in the loss of her tail. She was fitted with a silicone and plastic tail which enables her to swim normally. She has since become a highly popular attraction at the aquarium, which led to the film's making.

Injury and discovery

Winter became entangled in the ropes of a crab trap when she was two months old, on December 17, 2006, in Mosquito Lagoon
Mosquito Lagoon
Mosquito Lagoon is located in the northern part of the Indian River Lagoon system and the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. It extends from Ponce de León Inlet in Volusia County, Florida, to the north end of Merritt Island. It connects to the Indian River via the Haulover Canal. The Lagoon divides...

 off the coast of Florida. The rope cut off the supply of blood to her tail. She was spotted and caught by a small fishing boat and a SeaWorld
SeaWorld is a United States chain of marine mammal parks, oceanariums, and animal theme parks owned by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. The parks feature captive orca, sea lion, and dolphin shows and zoological displays featuring various other marine animals. There are operations in Orlando,...

 team (with assistance from the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute
Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute
Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University, also commonly referred to as HBOI or HBOI at FAU, is a non-profit oceanographic institution operated by Florida Atlantic University in Fort Pierce, Florida, USA. HBOI traces its history to a 1971 entity which was merged into...

) which brought her to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Winter survived, but her tail had to be amputated due to the lack of blood for a prolonged period of time. At first it was thought that Winter would have to learn to swim without a tail, but this forced her to swim with a "side to side" body motion instead of the normal "up and down" motion, and the veterinarians feared that this unusual movement would damage her spine. Kevin Carroll, who had designed prosthetics for other animals (including dogs, an ostrich and a duck), volunteered to help.

Prosthetic tail

Carroll and a team of experts took a year and a half designing and testing a tail for Winter, eventually settling on a simple silicone and plastic tail. A gel-like sleeve was used over the tail, in order to prevent it from irritating Winter's skin. In Winter's case however, both the flukes and the caudal peduncle had been severed, making the task much more difficult.

Lessons learned from Winter also have been applied to human amputees. Carroll used the same gel sleeve concept to ease painful prosthetic limbs for US Air Force Senior Airman
Senior Airman
Senior airman is the fourth enlisted rank in the United States Air Force, just above airman first class and below staff sergeant. It has a pay grade of E-4...

 Brian Kolfage, who lost both legs and his right hand in a 2004 mortar
Mortar (weapon)
A mortar is an indirect fire weapon that fires explosive projectiles known as bombs at low velocities, short ranges, and high-arcing ballistic trajectories. It is typically muzzle-loading and has a barrel length less than 15 times its caliber....

 attack in Iraq. Books and Nintendo DS
Nintendo DS
The is a portable game console produced by Nintendo, first released on November 21, 2004. A distinctive feature of the system is the presence of two separate LCD screens, the lower of which is a touchscreen, encompassed within a clamshell design, similar to the Game Boy Advance SP...

 games have been published about Winter.

2011 film adaption

A film based on Winter's story, titled Dolphin Tale, was released September 23, 2011. The film centers around a young boy who becomes friends with the dolphin, and stars Nathan Gamble
Nathan Gamble
Nathan Gamble is an American child actor who made his feature film debut in Babel , for which he was nominated for a 2007 Young Artist Award....

, Harry Connick, Jr.
Harry Connick, Jr.
Joseph Harry Fowler Connick, Jr. is an American singer, big-band leader/conductor, pianist, actor, and composer. He has sold over 25 million albums worldwide. Connick is ranked among the top 60 best-selling male artists in the United States by the Recording Industry Association of America, with...

, Ashley Judd
Ashley Judd
Ashley Judd is an American television and film actress, who has played lead roles in films including Ruby in Paradise, Kiss the Girls, Double Jeopardy, Where the Heart Is and High Crimes...

, Morgan Freeman
Morgan Freeman
Morgan Freeman is an American actor, film director, aviator and narrator. He is noted for his reserved demeanor and authoritative speaking voice. Freeman has received Academy Award nominations for his performances in Street Smart, Driving Miss Daisy, The Shawshank Redemption and Invictus and won...

, and Kris Kristofferson
Kris Kristofferson
Kristoffer "Kris" Kristofferson is an American musician, actor, and writer. He is known for hits such as "Me and Bobby McGee", "For the Good Times", "Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down", and "Help Me Make It Through the Night"...

. Winter played herself in the film. Several modifications were made to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium to accommodate her, including a new 80,000-gallon pool.
Portions of the movie were filmed in and around Clearwater
-Places:Canada* Clearwater, British Columbia* Clearwater, Manitoba* Clearwater County, Alberta* Clear Water Academy, a private Catholic school located in Calgary, Alberta...

. Locations included the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, Honeymoon Island, Tarpon Springs
Tarpon Springs, Florida
Tarpon Springs is a city in Pinellas County, Florida, United States. The population was 21,003 at the 2000 census. According to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2004 estimates, the city had a population of 22,554....

, and local news station Bay News 9
Bay News 9
Bay News 9 is a cable news television network located in St Petersburg, Florida. It currently serves the Tampa Bay Area including Hillsborough, Pinellas, Manatee, Polk, Pasco, Hernando, and Citrus counties...


Further reading

  • Winter's Tail, Juliana Hatkoff, Isabella Hatkoff, and Craig Hatkoff
    Craig Hatkoff
    Craig M. Hatkoff is an American real estate investor and philanthropist from New York City. Along with his wife Jane Rosenthal and Robert De Niro, he co-founded the Tribeca Film Festival and the Tribeca Film Institute in 2002...

    . Scholastic Books (2007) ISBN 978-0-545-12335-8 (nonfiction picture book for young readers)

External links

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