Goodbye Winter: Movie Star Dolphin Passes Away

dolphin leaping at sunset

Written by Austin S.

Published: November 13, 2021

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“Dolphin Tale’s” leading lady has passed away. The Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Florida announced today that Winter, the dolphin, had died due to an illness on Thursday night.

According to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, Winter had lost interest in eating earlier this week and veterinarians suspected she had a gastrointestinal infection. She was being prepped for a procedure to help with this when her vital signs and behavior began to incline.

Clearwater Marine Aquarium said she died in the arms of her caretakers. Prior to her death, her caretakers had done everything possible to help her survive despite her declining health.

Winter’s Miraculous Life

Winter has long been called a “medical miracle” within the veterinary community. The dolphin lost her tail after being caught in a crab trap line at two months old.

In 2005, she was rescued from the crab trap line. Despite attempts to keep her tail, the trap line had done its damage. The line had cut circulation to her tail flukes eventually leading to the tail’s deterioration and loss.

Winter did not let this stop her. With the help of marine biologists and veterinarians at Clearwater Marine Aquarium, Winter was able to adapt to her new physical form and relearn to swim. She was fitted with a prosthetic tail — a medical first for dolphins.

For years, Winter continued to inspire visitors to the aquarium with her persevering spirit and energy.

In 2011, the movie “Dolphin’s Tale” told the world Winter’s story. She was featured in the film as was her home in Florida. After the film’s release, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium became a center for conversation regarding wildlife interactions with fisheries and Winter became one of the world’s most beloved dolphins.

In addition to inspiring others due to her medical recovery, Winter has also spearheaded talks about conservation. By regulating fishing practices and keeping our oceans clean, we could reduce negative impacts on wild animals such as Winter.

Marine animals are highly susceptible to dangerous interactions with fisheries. They could become entangled in fishing lines or even ingest fishing gear. These cause injuries, illness, and potentially death.

Though impacted by these interactions, Winter was able to survive due to her own resilience and the staff at Clearwater Marine Aquarium.

Not every marine animal will be as lucky which is why we need to do our part to keep our oceans clean and advocate for the wild animals who call it home.

Remembering Winter

A memorial will be held for Winter at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium on November, 20th. 

The aquarium will be closed Saturday, November 13th to give the staff time to grieve.

“Many are inspired by her resiliency,” the aquarium stated in a news release, “this amazing response reminds us of how deeply she has affected millions, including so many on their own health journey.

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About the Author

Growing up in rural New England on a small scale farm gave me a lifelong passion for animals. I love learning about new wild animal species, habitats, animal evolutions, dogs, cats, and more. I've always been surrounded by pets and believe the best dog and best cat products are important to keeping our animals happy and healthy. It's my mission to help you learn more about wild animals, and how to care for your pets better with carefully reviewed products.

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