Winter the Miracle Dolphin Found Dead


AP Images/Chris O'Meara

Arguably the most famous dolphin, Winter spent years in the spotlight with several movies made to tell her story.

Kristen Thompson, Editor-in-Chief, Online

   On. the night of Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021, Winter the dolphin passed away at Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Winter’s death was caused by a twisted intestine, according to her necropsy. She was sixteen.

   Winter was known for using a prosthetic tail, after losing her real tail at a young age. She was also the main star of the 2011 film, “Dolphin Tale,” alongside Harry Connick Jr. and Morgan Freeman, as well as its 2014 sequel. On the aquarium’s website,, fans could also watch Winter live throughout the day.

   “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,” Veterinarian Dr. Shelly Marquardt shared in a statement posted to Clearwater Marine Aquarium’s social media platforms.

   At two months old, Winter was found on the shoreline of Mosquito Lagoon, Fla., with her tail caught in a crab trap. Because the ropes of the crab trap shortened the blood supply to her tail, she ended up losing it. Since she was found in the month of December, she was appropriately named Winter. Due to her condition and lack of skills needed to survive in the open waters, Clearwater Marine Aquarium deemed Winter as not releasable, which made her a permanent resident.

   Winter lived with another Atlantic bottlenose dolphin, Panama, until the latter’s death in 2013. Five years after Winter was rescued, another female dolphin, Hope, was found and made a permanent resident at the aquarium. In 2019, Clearwater Marine Aquarium rescued PJ, a 50-year-old dolphin who suffers from vision and hearing loss. PJ made her home in the same environment as Winter and Hope.

   Winter the dolphin was an inspiration to people around the globe. Her story brought faith to people who face the same challenges as her. On the website, guests are encouraged to share their memories with Winter and the impact she had on their lives. One user on the site, Savannah Hunt, has scoliosis. Hunt and Winter are connected in an interesting way.

   “When I found out that where I got my brace was the same place that made Winter’s tail, I couldn’t stop smiling.” Hunt shared. She added on by revealing that Winter helped her get through her challenges.

   Winter will be missed by many. Her triumphant story led to greatness and hope in others and her community. Winter showed people that our differences make us extraordinary.