<\body> Stories in America: Winter the Dolphin

Monday, September 25, 2006

Winter the Dolphin

The news from Indian River Lagoon was too familiar: another dolphin gravely injured because of human action.

But marine scientist Steve McCulloch immediately saw this rescue was unique. The baby bottlenose dolphin lost her tail, but perhaps her life could be saved.

McCulloch, director of dolphin and whale research at the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution, decided to channel his anger into a solution.

The solution for the dolphin -- dubbed Winter -- may be a prosthetic tail. If the logistics can be worked out, Winter's prosthesis would be the first for a dolphin who lost its tail and the key joint that allows it to move in powerful up-and-down strokes.

"There's never been a dolphin like her," said Dana Zucker, chief operating officer of the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, which is now Winter's home.

Winter was a frail, dehydrated 3-month-old when she came to the animal rescue center in December. A fisherman found her tangled in the buoy line of a crab trap in Indian River Lagoon near Cape Canaveral. The line tightened around her tail as she tried to swim away, strangling the blood supply to her tail flukes.

"It looked like paper," Zucker said of Winter's tail. "Bit by bit over the weeks it just fell off." Winter was left with a rounded stump.

A team of more than 150 volunteers and veterinarians spent months nursing Winter back to health. Zucker and her family cuddled with Winter and fed her a special mix of infant formula and pureed fish in the aquarium's rescue pool.

Winter learned how to swim without her tail, amazing her handlers with a combination of moves that resemble an alligator's undulations and a shark's side-to-side tail swipes. She uses her flippers, normally employed for steering and braking, to get moving.


At 10/09/2006 12:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In a world where people are fighting over territory,all over the world it's good to see that some people prefer to care for the other living creatures which share our Planet'

At 1/31/2007 4:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anybody know how Winter is doing?

At 4/06/2007 9:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, I know how Winter is doing. I am on the board of directors at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. She is doing great, gained over 100 lbs now and a perfect 1-year old dolphin calf with the main exception of now having a tail, also know as a fluke. She has been in the news alot, even Good Morning America did a story on her. We are working with a major prostetic company to develop a tail for her sometime soon. You can follow her progress on our website. www.cmaquarium.org

At 4/24/2007 8:07 AM, Anonymous John McNamara said...

Hi there,
I am not sure you know but in the news today, Winter the dolphin got her new tail. Good news for Winter and the staff that takes care of her.
God Bless,

At 5/10/2007 11:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw Winter last week and she looked great! Did not see any prothesis...but she was moving really well. the folks at the little rescue aquarium are doing a wonderful job - wish I was rich - they need some monetary assistance to keep up their good work!

At 5/27/2007 11:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

She was only fitted for the prosthesis - the design isn't even finalized yet. The actual appendage could still be a year away.

At 12/28/2011 2:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

as do i winter is doing great sawyer is to they have a bond some how they are one like brother and sister they fight like to weeks a go winter smacked sawyer in the face lol so funny - hazel


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