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Featured Image Credit: Clearwater Marine Aquarium
Winter, the beloved star of the 2011 film Dolphin Tale, has sadly died after a 'gastrointestinal abnormality,' Clearwater Marine Aquarium has confirmed.
Winter was 16-years-old when she died. The bottle-nosed dolphin first came to the aquarium at just two-months-old, after she was found trapped in a crab net near Cape Canaveral. Her injuries to her tail fin were so bad, the team at Clearwater Marine Aquarium were forced to amputate it.
The heartwarming 2011 film Dolphin Tale chronicles Winter's recovery as she learns to swim again with the help of her carers and a specially designed prosthetic fin.
On 10th November, the team at Clearwater Marine Aquarium (CMA) said Winter had contracted a gastrointestinal infection and that she'd gone into critical condition. On 12th November 2021, the CMA announced the news that she'd sadly died as a result of the infection, despite the team working around the clock to try and save her life.
"With heavy hearts, CMA announced tonight that Winter the Dolphin died at approximately 8 pm as animal care experts from around the country worked to treat her gastrointestinal abnormality. The CMA family is devastated."
Officials said they noticed Winter's vital signs started declining while the CMA Animal Care team were preparing her for a procedure. The medical team responded immediately and tried "several life-saving efforts" but "she died being held by her caregivers."
During preparation for a procedure, the CMA Animal Care team noticed that Winter's behavior and vital signs were declining. The medical team tried several life-saving efforts, but she died being held by her caregivers.
"While we are heartbroken by Winter's death, we are comforted knowing that our team did everything possible to give her the best chance at survival," said Veterinarian Dr. Shelly Marquardt, DVM, CVA.
"We worked with specialists and marine mammal experts from around the country to provide her with the best care available. Our staff worked around the clock during this challenging time.
"I'm honoured to work alongside such dedicated and talented professionals who gave their all for Winter."
In a statement, the team at the aquarium said:
"The CMA team expresses our deepest gratitude to the thousands of people from around the world who sent caring messages for Winter. She truly inspired hope and was loved by millions of people worldwide.
"Winter, we love you.
The CMA remained closed to the public on Friday (12th November) to allow staff to grieve for the loss of the miracle dolphin.
They added that "plans for a memorial for Winter, honouring the positive impact she made on the world, will be announced soon."
Meanwhile, tributes to the beloved dolphin and the CMA poured in on social media. One Twitter user posted a photo of his daughters sat on an "I love Winter" towel and surrounded by other Winter merchandise.
"Her story was an inspiration to many worldwide. She'll be missed greatly... R.I.P. Winter..." wrote another.
"Rest in peace sweet girl, we loved every bit of your 16 years on this planet. We loved watching you overcome the worst and become the beautiful animal we knew today," said another.
At the time of this article's publication, Dolphin Tale is available to stream on Hulu in the US and on Amazon PRime in the UK. We suspect Netflix might also release the movie in honour of Winter.