RIP Winter the Dolphin


Neely Burns, Editor-In-Chief

Winter, the beloved dolphin, recently passed away at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium on November 11, 2021. She lived for 16 years, primarily in captivity, and will be missed by her caregivers and fans from around the world.

Winter was rescued on December 10, 2005, after getting stuck in a crab trap. This incident cut off circulation to her tail, and doctors eventually had to amputate it. This left her struggling to swim and hurting her body in the process, so doctors caring for her eventually made a prosthetic tail for her to live a somewhat normal life. This tail helped Winter make a full recovery and resume a relatively normal, healthy life.

Fans of Winter were heartbroken to hear of her death, which occurred from an intestinal torsion caused partly by her injury. The aquarium held a Virtual Memorial Ceremony as well as a Celebration of Life for Winter. The band Red Marker 28 wrote a song for her called “In Our Hearts You’ll Be.”

If this story sounds familiar to you, it is possible you have seen the movies Dolphin Tale or Dolphin Tale 2, which star Winter and outline her journey. These movies brought the Clearwater Marine Aquarium revenue to support its animals including Winter, but also brought the nation this inspiring story. Fans around the world had their hearts warmed by the scientific breakthroughs shown in the film, as well as the dedication of Winter and her caregivers.

Winter’s influence expanded beyond that of a typical movie star, however. Her disability inspired children and adults around the world to be happy with their own disabilities, and show them that happiness is achievable. She also spread consciousness of conservation efforts, as it was a callously disregarded crab trap which caused her injury. Mrs. Miller, a biology teacher on campus who had the pleasure of seeing Winter in person says, “Winter was an amazing dolphin who inspired so many people with amputations or physical disabilities. Winter showed us that no disability is too difficult to handle, and that anything is possible when you believe in yourself!.”

It is clear that Winter’s memory will not be soon forgotten, and she will live on in the hearts of all who knew her.