It’s a story that almost everyone across the globe knows……A little dolphin gets stuck in a crab trap for 36 hours before help came along. About 4 hours later, the animal arrives at Clearwater Marine Aquarium where months and years of rehabilitation began. But, it did not end there; just in a few weeks time, the young dolphin, named Winter, would lose her tail because of her violent ordeal. About two years later, when she was about 18 months old, Winter received her first prosthetic tail which was made by Hanger Prosthetics Inc.
Winter is currently believed to be the only captive dolphin in the western hemisphere with a prosthetic tail. In order to keep the prosthetic in place, a white, rubbery sleeve is places on her peduncle to protect her delicate skin. It is then, the prosthetic is inserted on to the sleeve afterward. The tail is mainly used twice a day as a form of physical therapy. While she swims fine without her tail, her spine has become curved due to swimming in a fish like pattern, instead of a natural horizontal dolphin swim pattern. Therefore, Winter undergoes physical therapy and exercises. Over the course of her lifetime, Winter has had 15 tails. These tails are both adjusted and improved by size and ability because Winter keeps on growing into her adult size.