PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Winter the Dolphin, star of “Dolphin Tale” and Tampa Bay icon, has sadly passed away following her battle with intestinal issues.
Team members at Clearwater Marine Aquarium noticed on Monday, Nov. 1 that Winter “wasn’t acting like her normal self” and was not interested in eating.
Test results on Wednesday, Nov. 10 showed that, despite “aggressive” treatment from aquarium staff, abnormalities in her intestines intensified, making Winter’s condition critical. Animal care experts at CMA worked with veterinary specialists from all across the country and world as they explored all possible options to help save Winter.
Unfortunately, despite battling intestinal issues in the past, Winter died at approximately 8 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 11 while being held by her caregivers.
“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 said in a statement.
The aquarium will close its doors Friday, Nov. 12 to allow staff members to grieve. A grief counselor will be made available to the team.
“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. 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,” said Veterinarian Dr. Shelly Marquardt, DVM, CVA. “I’m honored to work alongside such dedicated and talented professionals who gave their all for Winter.”
Plans for a memorial for Winter, honoring the positive impact she made on the world, will be announced soon.
Winter made national headlines in 2005 when she was rescued off the Florida coast and taken to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. The bottlenose dolphin had become entangled in a crab trap line and lost her tail. She later received a prosthetic replacement.
Her story inspired the 2011 film “Dolphin Tale,” starring Harry Connick Jr., Ashley Judd, Kris Kristofferson, and Morgan Freeman. The movie would go on to receive a sequel, called “Dolphin Tale 2.”
Winter was 16 years old.