Winter the dolphin died on November 11, 2021, at the age of 16, after losing her tail as a calf and being notably fitted with the prosthesis in 2007. Films, children’s literature, and even computer games have been inspired by her life. “With sorrowful hearts, Clearwater Marine Aquarium announced tonight that winter the Dolphin died at around 8 p.m. while animal care professionals from across the country battled to cure her gastrointestinal abnormalities,” a statement from the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Florida read.
Angler Jim Savage discovered winter wrapped in a crab trap line in Florida in 2005 when he was just two months old. Winter’s tale is cut off from circulation by the line, resulting in necrosis (death of tissue). Clearwater Marine Aquarium took winter in and nurtured him back to health. Winter, on the other hand, after losing her tail, swam with her tail stump side to side rather than up and down like dolphins do, resulting in scoliosis owing to strain on her spine.
“Her narrative is a melancholy understanding of the perils faced by animals in the wild as a result of human activity,” the aquarium’s website states about winter. Kevin Carroll, Vice President of Lower Extremity Prosthetics at Hanger Clinic, heard about winter on the radio in 2006 and volunteered to help by supplying the dolphin with a prosthetic tail. Dan Strzempka, the Sarasota Area Clinic Manager at Hanger Clinic, designed the prosthesis, having worn a prosthetic limb since he was four years old.
The process of the designing prosthesis, however, was not straightforward, according to Carroll, who stated, “When we put a socket on a person, we have one long, solid bone, and the socket isn’t sliding in every direction.” It must move in tandem with a dolphin’s whole spine.”
“Working with Winter forced us to think outside the box and come up with new approaches to how we think about prosthetic devices, so much so that we came up with a new material that we now call WintersGel that allowed Winter to use her prosthetic tail with comfort,” Carroll and Strzempka said in a joint statement following Winter’s death. Thanks to winter, our amputee community now has access to this cutting-edge technology, which is used by thousands of individuals all over the world.” Winter went on to appear in the Dolphin Tale (2011) and Dolphin Tale 2 (2014) films, both of which were based on her life.
Keepers had noted winter was not her typical self, growing disinterested in eating, according to a statement released by Clearwater Marine Aquarium on November 7, 2021. Winter was “presumably fighting a stomach ailment,” according to tests.
The aquarium started on November 11 that winter had “died while being held by her carers.” The cause of death, according to a necropsy, was intestinal torsion (twisted intestines) in a spot that surgeons could not reach. Winter surpassed all obstacles by demonstrating tenacity and courage, according to a tribute website for her. “Winter’s time with us has come to an end, but her spirit and inspiration will live on.” So far, the winter memorial has raised $26,468.71 for Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
Winter given back so much to us, Carroll and Strzempka said in a joint statement. “Especially when it comes to motivating individuals of all ages with life-threatening diseases, those who have undergone severe injuries and even veterans returning from battle.” “Winter has given pleasure to the world and will be remembered for her vivacious disposition and love of people for the rest of her life.” Winter has had a profound and long-lasting influence on us, and she will always have a particular place in our hearts.”