When pulling up to the tiny Clearwater Marine Aquarium just outside of Tampa over the bridge near Clearwater Beach Florida, one would never realize a famous dolphin swims within this quaint little building. Her name is Winter and she is a miracle. It is well worth the fourteen hour drive to sandy beaches and sunshine, from Evansville, to meet this marvelous dolphin with quite a tail (pun intended). Winter was found at three months old wrapped in a crab trap line in Mosquito Lagoon. She had tried, but was unable to escape her entwinement. Due to the significant damage and blood flow loss to her tail, Winter lost her tail and two vertebrae.
She now leads a life of fame as she swims with a prosthetic fin.The fin is amazing to look at and an effort of many to make and alter. The credit goes to Hanger Prosthetics and Orthotics, Inc. as well as marine veterinarian Dr. Mike Walsh. Many months and attempts went into the current version of Winter’s tail that she wears with ease. The challenges that come with fitting a dolphin were many. Between a dolphin's delicate skin and the unique fit and propulsion required, the fin stands as a medical achievement that has drawn much attention.
Winter’s fame has extended to a new feature film staring Morgan Freeman, Harry Connick Jr. and Ashley Judd at AMC on Evansville’s west side (free popcorn on Tuesdays) and Showplace theaters located throughout Evansville and Newburgh now. Winter is featured in most of the movie with some parts being played by a robotic double (the double is suppose to go on display at the Marine in the future). If your family is looking for a truly inspiring story, go splash into a Dolphin’s Tale.
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