Winter is an Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin that made history when she became an amputee back in 2005. She found herself tangled in lines of a crab trap and when doctors could not save her severely damage tail a prosthesis was made for her. Her brave story is related in the recently released “Dolphin Tale” movie.
I recently visited Winter in her home at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Clearwater Florida. The aquarium is a non-profit rescue, rehab and release facility specializing in dolphins, sea turtles and river otters.
Winter’s incredible story heard both on the news and through the movie has caused quite a stir in Clearwater. People inspired by Winter’s perseverance to overcome her disability have flocked to the aquarium to meet the movie star.
Having seen the movie several times I confess I too wanted to see Winter. So during my recent trip to Florida I stopped in at the small aquarium. I watched as Winter’s prosthetic tale was applied to her stump. I was told it is put on several times a day, more as a physical therapy tool than anything. Winter is able to swim without the prosthesis.
When Winter’s trainer is not working with her she is quite vocal, having become very accustom to her celebrity status. She truly seems to enjoy the constant attention of the staff and the frequent flash of cameras from visitors.
I enjoyed my day at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and highly recommend it if you visit the area. The admission fee is very reasonable with additional donations accepted throughout the facility.
My only disappointment was that despite the educational programs by the volunteer staff and the movies I wish the facility would put more emphasis on the source of the rescue and rehab process. Had I not asked I would never have known that the dolphin Panama can never be released. Panama is a perfectly healthy dolphin, but due to a learned behavior from humans, begging, she nearly starved to death before her rescue. If she is returned to the wild she will beg again, the only life she knows. The movies say “Don’t feed the wild animals” but they don’t explain the importance of why.
Watch the amazing “Dolphin Tale” movie with your family and be inspired to protect our marine life.