Loved by millions across the world, Winter the Dolphin has passed away due to intestinal issues.
The 16-year-old dolphin had a story that inspired hope in many, and her life was turned into the movie, 2011 film, Dolphin Tale, in which she starred and captured the hearts of people across the globe.
For most of her life, Winter’s home was at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, and she was doted over by the staff at the aquarium even during her last moments. In the days prior to the dolphin’s death, the aquarium revealed that Winter was fighting a gastrointestinal infection, and her intestinal abnormalities were jeopardizing her health.
Animal care experts at the aquarium began working to save the dolphin’s life and gave her the best care possible. Sadly, on November 11, 2021, the aquarium announced that Winter had passed away.
“While we are heartbroken by Winter’s death, we are comforted knowing that our team did everything possible to give her the best chance at survival,” said Veterinarian Dr. Shelly Marquardt, DVM, CVA in a statement put out by Clearwater Marine Aquarium. “We worked with specialists and marine mammal experts from around the country to provide her with the best care available. Our staff worked around the clock during this challenging time. I’m honored to work alongside such dedicated and talented professionals who gave their all for Winter.”
The very first time Winter became the subject of headlines across the US was in the year 2005. The bottlenose dolphin was just two months old and her tail got entangled in a crab trap near Cape Canaveral. Winter was eventually rescued off the Florida coast and lost her tail due to the incident, according to WFLA.
Winter arrived at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium back then and had to have her tail amputated, according to TODAY. But even after she lost her tail, the dolphin learned to swim again much like a shark by wiggling her body from one side to the other. She proved, with time, that she was a special creature and was given a prosthetic to replace her lost tail.
The dolphin’s inspiring story was turned into the movie Dolphin Tale, which had Winter being an absolute star beside actors, Harry Connick Jr., Ashley Judd, Morgan Freeman, Kris Kristofferson, and Nathan Gamble.
Much of the movie was shot at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and other Tampa Bay locations. Along with showing Winter’s incredible recovery, the movie helped amplify the great work that the people at Clearwater Marine Aquarium do on a daily basis.
A sequel to the movie, Dolphin Tale 2, was also released in 2014 and had Winter and Hope, another rescued dolphin looked after by the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, in the spotlight.
Following Winter’s death, the aquarium released a statement and said, “The CMA team expresses our deepest gratitude to the thousands of people from around the world who sent caring messages for Winter. She truly inspired hope and was loved by millions of people worldwide. Winter, we love you.”