I was surprised at how hard the news of Winter the Dolphin's passing on November 11th hit me. Despite heroic efforts made by the teams at Clearwater Marine Aquarium she succumbed to complications associated with a twisted intestine.
She was a true ambassador of hope and perseverance and had deeply touched my heart as the star of Dolphin Tale and Dolphin Tale 2 (I own and watch both movies frequently) as well as the Clearwater livestream cam. Although I never had the opportunity to meet her in person, I have had the unique experience of being "rescued" by a dolphin. As a tribute to Winter I am reposting a 2017 post that describes that experience.
Winter was found when she was two months old tangled in crab trap line, which cut circulation to her tail flukes. This eventually led to a deterioration and loss of her tail. While most dolphins in this situation wouldn’t survive, Winter adapted to her new physical form and made a complete recovery!
The team at Clearwater Marine Aquarium worked with the Hanger Clinic to develop a prosthetic tail.
Throughout her time with (CMA), she thrived, and her story of survival inspired millions of people around the world. From her countless “Dolphin Tale” fans to her visitors, she has touched the hearts of everyone. Every day, Winter showed us anything is possible if we believe. --CMA
Post from June 2017
I was recently reminded of the adventures my husband and I experienced while swimming with dolphins in Cabo several years ago. Since all of the dolphins had been rescued themselves and had previously worked in rehabilitation centers, my disability wasn’t an issue to them. I suited up in the closest fitting life vest they had and entered the water, with Guy holding onto me. Even though we were with a small group of people, Jenny (that’s what I named her) kept swimming close to me. It was incredible!
The real adventures began when she took each of us for a spin around the pool. I hung onto her fins and let her rip. Those little mammals are really powerful BTW. Before I was halfway around the pool (it was a very large pool) my strength gave out and I found myself face down in a deep pool of water. The not so well-fitted life jacket kept me afloat, however, being a bit oversized it also pushed my head down.
I patiently held my breath and hoped my husband could swim really fast (he was at the other end of the pool). Fortunately, I grew up around water and knew not to panic, but it's amazing how long a few seconds feel when you're holding your breath. Eventually I was rescued by the trainer (clothes and all) as he was able to dive off the platform and reach me quicker than Guy could.
As the trainer towed me to safety, I felt something touching my toes (I may not have mobility anymore but I do have physical sensation). It took me a minute to realize Jenny was pushing my dragging feet with her nose. Even the trainer was surprised when I pointed it out to him. The only thing we could figure was it was something she'd learned while working in the rehab center.
I will never forget that experience and always treasure it – especially after the photographer suggested I try again with the exact same results.