CLEARWATER, Fla., Nov. 12, 2021—The dolphin who inspired the movies “Dolphin Tale” and “Dolphin Tale 2” died yesterday.
Winter was a rehabilitated bottlenose dolphin who lost her tail—or fluke—after becoming entangled in the ropes of a crab trap in Mosquito Lagoon in southeast Florida in 2005.
The rope cut off the blood supply to her tail, causing it to be amputated.
She was estimated to be 2 months old at the time of her injury.
After more than a year of design and testing, Winter was fitted with a prosthetic tail attached by a silicone sleeve in 2007. This enabled her to swim again.
Her use of a prosthetic was an inspiration for disabled people, especially amputees, and lessons learned from treating Winter have been used on human amputees.
Winter played herself in the movies.
Female dolphins in the wild can live more than 60 years, while male dolphin lifespans tend to be shorter.
The aquarium announced Nov. 7 that Winter showed signs of a gastrointestinal infection. A follow-up announcement stated her condition as critical.
Winter died yesterday around 8 p.m. as she was being prepped for exploratory surgery.
She was 16 years old.
“Our staff worked around the clock during this challenging time,” said veterinarian Dr. Shelly Marquardt in the post. “I’m honored to work alongside such dedicated and talented professionals who gave their all.”
The aquarium is closed today to provide time for its staff to grieve, according to the post.
Clearwater Marine Aquarium plans for a memorial for Winter to honor the positive impact she made on the world.