Winter swimming without her tail
|Born||October 2005 (age 14–15)|
Mosquito Lagoon, Florida
|Notable role||Herself in Dolphin Tale and Dolphin Tale 2|
|Known for||Prosthetic tail|
|Owner||Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Clearwater, Florida|
Winter (born October 2005) is a bottlenose dolphin at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Clearwater, Florida. She is widely known for having a prosthetic tail. Winter is the subject of the book Dolphin Tale, and the 2011 film of the same name. Winter was found in the coastal waters of Florida on December 10, 2005. She was caught in a crab trap, which resulted in the loss of her tail. Winter was then taken to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, where she has been housed for 14 years. The loss of her tail caused Winter to swim unnaturally, with her tail moving side to side instead of up and down. As a result, Winter was fitted with a silicone and plastic tail that enabled her to swim normally. Winter has become a highly popular attraction at the aquarium. She lives in her pool with two other dolphins, Hope and P.J., the former of which is the subject of Dolphin Tale 2.
Injury and discovery
Winter received her name because she was found in December, traditionally considered a winter month; even though the exact date of her rescue falls within the American definition of autumn. The rope in which Winter was entangled cut off the supply of blood to her tail, causing it to naturally detach from her body. She was spotted and caught by a small fishing boat and the Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute stranding team (with assistance from the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute), who brought her to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
Irish prosthetist Kevin 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 in 2007. A gel-like sleeve was used under 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 treating Winter have also been applied to human amputees. Carroll used the same gel sleeve concept to ease painful prosthetic limbs for United States Air Force Senior Airman Brian Kolfage, who lost both legs and his right hand in a 2004 mortar attack in Iraq.
Dr. Naomi Rose, the senior scientist for the Animal Welfare Institute, has argued that the aquarium is unfit to house dolphins for long periods of time. She also asserts that Winter's quality of life is extremely poor, to the point that she would be better off euthanized. After personally observing the dolphin, Rose commented that Winter does not wear her prosthetic for long periods of time due to discomfort, and that she exhibits concerning behaviors such as logging in one place for extended periods of time.
Rose proposed that the aquarium's purpose shifted from rescue to pure display and that Winter was suffering to serve as an inspirational symbol for people with disabilities.
Dana Zucker, the former Chief Operating Officer at the aquarium, said that they were initially “doing some good things” for Winter, but that she was “not seeing those things happen now."
In popular culture
Winter has become the most popular attraction at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. She is viewed as an inspiration to children and adults with medical conditions and disabilities. Brock Mealer (brother of Michigan Wolverines player Eliot Mealer), who was paralyzed in a car accident, met Winter in December 2010. The event attracted significant press coverage. Books and Nintendo games have been published about Winter.
In 2009, Winter's story was told by Craig Hatkoff in a children’s book titled Winter’s Tail: How One Little Dolphin Learned to Swim Again. The book was published by Turtle Pond Publications and Scholastic. Hatkoff's short book was adapted into an interactive storybook on the Nintendo DS, under the same title.
A film based on Winter's story, titled Dolphin Tale, was released September 23, 2011. The film's main protagonist is a young boy who is played by Nathan Gamble. It also stars Harry Connick, Jr., Ashley Judd, Morgan Freeman, Kris Kristofferson, Kurt Yaeger, and Cozi Zuehlsdorff. Winter portrayed herself in the film. Several modifications were made to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium to accommodate her, including a new 80,000-gallon pool. The film was shot at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, and other locations in Pinellas County, Florida.
A sequel, Dolphin Tale 2, was released in theaters on September 12, 2014. The movie focuses on Hope, the dolphin who now lives with Winter.
- "Researchers Hope to Give Dolphin Prosthetic Tail: Underwater interview of Diana Zucker by Melissa Block". National Public Radio.
- Ludmilla Lelis, Orlando Sentinel (27 November 2010). "Winter the dolphin's rescue off Volusia has Hollywood ending".
- Daniel Aven (9 August 2007). ""Bionic" Dolphin Getting New Tail". The Early Show. CBS News. Retrieved 29 December 2010.
- Jaime Holguin (26 August 2007). "Fuji The Dolphin's Rubber Tail". CBS Evening News. CBS News. Retrieved 29 December 2010.
- Batt, Elizabeth. "Documentary reveals the true life of Winter the dolphin". Digital Journal. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
- Theodora Aggeles (30 December 2010). "Once-paralyzed Ohio man meets Clearwater's Winter the dolphin". Tampabay.com. St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved 29 August 2016.
- "Winter's Tail DS". Scholastic.com. Retrieved 2012-06-23.
- "Scholastic's 'Winter's Tail' Makes Waves". Publishersweekly.com. Retrieved 2012-06-23.
- "Dolphin's Tale". IMBd. Amazon.com. Retrieved 2 January 2011.
- Steve Persall (20 July 2010). "Filming of A Dolphin's Tale (in 3D!) to begin Sept. 27 at Clearwater Marine Aquarium and other Pinellas County locations". Tampabay.com. St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved 2 January 2011.
- Mike Brassfield (19 December 2010). "Clearwater Marine Aquarium reaps new features left over from filming 'Dolphin Tale'". Tampabay.com. St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved 2 January 2011.
- "Winter the dolphin movie wraps filming". Baynews9.com. Bay News 9. 10 December 2010. Retrieved 10 August 2011.