Winter (born circa October 2005) is a bottlenose dolphin at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Clearwater, Florida, US, widely known for having a prosthetic tail. She is the subject of the book Dolphin Tale, and the 2011 film of the same name, a dramatization of her story, and the sequel Dolphin Tale 2. Winter was found in the coastal waters of Florida in December 2005, caught in a crab trap, which resulted in the loss of her tail. She was then taken to Clearwater Marine Aquarium. The loss of her tail caused her to swim unnaturally with her tail moving side to side instead of up and down. As a result, she was fitted with a silicone-and-plastic tail that enabled her to swim normally. She has since become a highly popular attraction at the aquarium, which led to the film's making. She lives in her pool with another dolphin, Hope, who is the subject of the 2014 sequel to Dolphin Tale, Dolphin Tale 2.
Injury and discovery
Winter was found in the ropes of a crab trap on December 10, 2005, in Mosquito Lagoon of the coastal waters of Florida. At the time of her rescue she was estimated to be around two months old.
Winter received her name because she was found in December, traditionally considered a winter month, even though the exact date of her rescue (December 10) is actually within the American definition of autumn. The rope cut off the supply of blood to her tail. She was spotted and caught by a small fishing boat and a SeaWorld team (with assistance from the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute), who brought her to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
Irish prosthetist Kevin Carroll and a team of experts took a year and a half designing and testing a tail for Winter, eventually settling on a simple silicone and plastic tail in 2007. A gel-like sleeve was used under the tail, in order to prevent it from irritating Winter's skin. In Winter's case however, both the flukes and the caudal peduncle had been severed, making the task much more difficult.
Lessons learned from Winter also have been applied to human amputees. Carroll used the same gel sleeve concept to ease painful prosthetic limbs for US Air Force Senior Airman Brian Kolfage, who lost both legs and his right hand in a 2004 mortar attack in Iraq.