On Thursday evening, Nov. 11, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium witnessed the death of the prosthetic-tailed dolphin named Winter, the star of the “Dolphin Tale” movie, despite intense efforts to treat her gastrointestinal abnormality.

As animal care experts were preparing to perform a treatment procedure on the 16- year-old female bottlenose dolphin, she had already died, as Fox News reported.

Veterinarian Dr. Shelly Marquardt said in a statement released by the aquarium that they were all shocked by the loss of Winter. However, they were partially relieved, having done their best to help the famous marine mammal’s chances at survival.

Marquardt said that specialists and marine mammal experts across the country were dispatched to the aquarium, contributing to the life-saving efforts.

Unfortunately, owing to Winter’s critical condition and declining health, they were unable to save her.

In an interview with reporters on Thursday, the president of the aquarium James “Buddy” Powell, said that the facility’s staff and outside experts have applied every possible measure to restore the dolphin to health but failed.

Powell said that Winter had not responded to treatment of intestinal issues as in the past, which severely affected her health. Intestinal problems are common among dolphins.

Winter wasn’t recorded as having the coronavirus.

The aquarium remained closed on Friday, providing staff grieving time. The aquarium had intended to close on Friday to allow workers to focus on the dolphin’s medical care before reopening it on Saturday.

Footage of “Dolphin Tale” film, Apr. 9, 2011. (Warner Bros. Pictures/Screenshot via TheBL/YouTube)


Winter got her tail entangled in a car trap near Canaveral, which forced its amputation, and was given a prosthetic tail at two months old.

The movie “Dolphin Tale,” based on Winter’s real story, was released in 2011. The film recorded Winter’s recovery and the extraordinary, tireless attempts to fit her with a prosthetic tail.

The film starred Harry Connick Jr., Ashley Judd, Kris Kristofferson, Morgan Freeman, and Nathan Gamble. The Clearwater Aquarium and surrounding Tampa Bay locations were chosen as venues for making the film. The Dolphin Tale’s success has made the non-profit aquarium well-known worldwide. It was first opened in 1972 on the site of a former water treatment plant.

“Dolphin Tale” is not merely an entertaining movie; the disabled worldwide have found Winter’s rehabilitation story a great inspiration, and the aquarium received thousands of support messages since Winter’s illness became known.

“Many are inspired by her resiliency and this amazing response reminds us of how deeply she has affected millions, including so many on their own health journey,” the aquarium statement said.


Following the success of “Dolphin Tale,” “Dolphin Tale 2” was released three years later, featuring another rescued dolphin named Hope and, of course, Winter.

Clearwater aquarium took care of both of them.

The pair of bottlenose dolphins, known as the most intelligent creatures with life spans up to 60 years, became the most famous residents of the Clearwater Aquarium, which also manages sea turtles and manatee rescue programs.

Although it was released a decade ago, the popularity of the Dolphin Tale movie has never waned, inspiring crowds of people to visit the aquarium. To cater for the large crowds, an $80 million expansion of the facility, including a 1.5 million-gallon new dolphin complex, was built.

Powell shared: “This place wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Winter,” Fox News reported.

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