The story of Winter

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

There is a genuine TV star, bit-time celebrity at the aquarium. Her name is Winter. She has appeared on every TV channel, and she has been written about in periodicals all over the world. Here's an abbreviated version of Winter's story. Seeing her is worth the trip to Clearwater all by itself.

The Clearwater Marine Aquarium is actually a hospital for marine life. One night they received a call from many miles away about a baby dolphin caught in the strings holding up crab pots. When the medical crew arrived, they found a baby dolphin, only two months old, with its tail caught and bent in the twine. She was half dead.

The staff loaded her into a special van and brought her back to the aquarium. No one thought she would survive. Her tail was so injured, the marine doctor gave her little chance for surviving the night.

In the morning, still weak and with her eyes still closed, she was at least breathing. The tail looked worse, and everyone knew it would fall off. A dolphin must have a tail in order to survive. But Winter, so named because she was found in the winter) continued to live, even though the tail rotted and fell off. If the dead flesh reached her vertebrae, it would kill her. Everyone watched, fearing that' exactly what would happen.

When the necrosis stopped its deadly march only a few centimeters from the first vertebrae, everyone was filled with hope, although her chances still did not look good.

Winter seemed to thrive. She even learned to swim, but not in the normal dolphin style. Dolphins move in the water by moving their big tails up and down. Fish move from side to side. Winter was swimming like a fish.

Because of the worldwide publicity, In Orlando, a guy named Kevin Carroll heard NPR's version on his car radio. He called the aquarium's CEO, David Yates. The caller introduced himself as vice president of a national company that makes artificial limbs - Hanger Prosthetics & Orthotics.

"I can put a tail on your dolphin," he said And thereby hangs a "tail." To celebrate Winter's rescue, on the third anniversary of her rescue, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium produced a video, Winter, The Dolphin that Could! It's available for purchase on You can read all about Winter at the website, and see many photos and videos of her. Her prosthetic tail works just fine. She now swims like a dolphin, but only for about an hour a day. It's going to take a long time to train her to use it longer.

You can also read about what an inspiration Winter is to children and service men and women who have suffered the loss of one or more limbs. Winter survived overwhelming odds and decided to live no matter what, and so can they.

You will be inspired, and be prepared to shed a tear or two. It's a truly heartwarming story.