Celebration of life for ‘Dolphin Tale’ star Winter set for this weekend at Clearwater aquarium

CMA will remember Winter and fundraise for research with reduced admissions.

click to enlarge SEEWINTER/FACEBOOK

Days after the death of beloved dolphin Winter, veterinary experts at Clearwater Marine Aquarium shared findings from her necropsy, which pointed to a likely cause of death.

Winter’s necropsy results indicated that she likely died from intestinal torsion, which means her intestines had twisted, CMA veterinarian Dr. Shelly Marquardt said in a Saturday morning news conference. The aquarium said there was nothing more Winter’s caregivers could do to save her life beyond keeping her as comfortable and pain-free as possible.

Winter died on Nov. 11 at age 16.

Remembering Winter: A Celebration of Life
Saturday-Wednesday, Nov. 20-24.
Clearwater Marine Aquarium, Clearwater

The aquarium also said the condition is not unique and can be found in other stranded dolphins “as well as any living being with intestines.” 

“We have found there is much to learn as a community about what causes this conditions, and what experts found in yesterday’s necropsy means Winter will continue helping scientists and animal rescue teams worldwide better care for these amazing animals,” CMA wrote in an update on its website.

The aquarium noted that Winter’s original injury and the distortion the loss of her tail caused in her body made her more prone to health complications over the last 16 years since her rescue. 

Winter was found 16 years ago stranded and tangled in a crab line just north of Cape Canaveral. The fishing material had cut off circulation to her tail flukes, and the tail had to be amputated. But whereas most dolphins wouldn’t survive without tail flukes to swim, Winter thrived along with the help of a specially made prosthetic. 

Her story of survival and prosperity made her an inspiration for people with disabilities and limb differences around the world. It also turned her into a movie star and put Clearwater Marine Aquarium on the tourism destination map through the “Dolphin Tale” movies.

In honor of Winter and her legacy, the aquarium will host a celebration of life beginning Nov. 20 through Nov. 24 for the public to attend. 

“Guests are invited to bring their memories of Winter and to enjoy the beautiful home she helped Clearwater Marine Aquarium build for her and all non-releasable animals,” CMA wrote in a release.

To remember Winter’s 16 years, admission to the aquarium will be reduced to $16 on Nov. 20 and 21 with part of the proceeds going towards CMA’s rescue and rehabilitation efforts. 

During the celebration of life events, there will be floral arrangements and other tributes to Winter and a special presentation of original footage from her rescue shown in the Dolphin Tale theater.

The aquarium is also planning to host private ceremonies for CMA staff and other aquarium community partners. A private memorial Saturday evening after the celebration of life will be live streamed on the aquarium’s website, winterthedolphin.com. 

“We look forward to welcoming Winter’s fans and followers and in celebrating the life of an amazing dolphin – one that will live on forever in our hearts,” CMA wrote.

As for the aquarium’s other rescued animals, CMA said they have all been checked out by veterinary experts and show no signs of illness. They are, however, getting “extra love and attention.”

You can share your condolences and memories of Winter the dolphin through her online obituary at rememberingwinter.com.

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About The Author

Chelsea Zukowski

Freelance contributor Chelsea Zukowski is a Tampa Bay native who started her journalism career in 2014 at the Tampa Bay Times, working her way up from editorial assistant to entertainment reporter and copy editor. After four years in print, she moved on to broadcast as a digital producer with 10 Tampa Bay-WTSP,...
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