Meet Winter the Dolphin - Clearwater Marine Aquarium, Florida
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Meet Winter the Dolphin

Winter's Tail: Discussion Guide

Read the book, watch the Webcast, and discuss!

At only three months of age, Winter (an Atlantic bottlenose dolphin) found herself wrapped tightly in a crab trap line and was unable to escape. She was rescued from Mosquito Lagoon (near Cape Canaveral) and transported to Clearwater Marine Aquarium to begin a long rehabilitation. Unfortunately, Winter lost her entire tail as well as two vertebrae as a result of the serious injuries that she had sustained.

Although her story is intriguing, it is also very rare, as many dolphins unfortunately die in monofilament and crab trap lines. Despite the odds against survival, Winter's energy and ability to adapt to her new physical form has surpassed the expectations of many experts. Winter has done amazingly well in the short time since her stranding. She has completely healed, adapted to a new swim pattern, and learned to eat fish on her own...about twelve pounds a day! She is growing quickly, and now weighs in at 250 pounds!
Thanks to Hanger Prosthetics & Orthotics, Winter now wears a prosthetic (artificial) tail. Her current tail took a long time to develop, including several different models along the way. She will likely need updated tails throughout her entire life.

Questions for Discussion?

  • Why do you think it took so long to develop her tail?
    • No dolphin has ever needed such an extensive prosthetic before, so it had to be designed from scratch. Each new design offers improvements in swimming motion and comfort. We never know for sure how well it will work until we try it.
    • Dolphin skin is sensitive and a protective sleeve had to be developed first.
    • She had learned to swim moving sideways without a tail and had to be trained to move up and down with the prosthetic tail. Training can be a long process.
  • What are some of the reasons she keeps getting new tails?
    • She currently outgrows her tails. She's only a few years old and may not reach full size for several more years.
  • What about Winter's story do you think people find most amazing?
    • Many people have been inspired by Winter and her tail. CMA receives letters, calls and e-mails from around the world telling us how she has affected their lives.
  • Why do you think people who wear prosthetics themselves might be inspired the most?
    • First of all that she even survived her injury.
    • That she learned to use a prosthetic tail.
    • She keeps trying and never gives up.
    • Some people wearing prosthetics themselves have told us that they feel more comfortable using their artificial limbs because they see how hard Winterworked to use hers. They also like all the positive attention Winter has received from her tail, and see that being different isn't a bad thing.


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