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In the Florida Keys and a Winter and Hope Update


Here's a kiss to the Keys saying "This is the life".

Here’s a kiss to the Keys saying “This is the life”.

Hey there everyone,

This is Jenna writing finally, after a while. I have been very busy lately due to online college work and my current internship at a Theater of the Sea in Islamorada, FL which has slowed me down a lot recently to the point where I no longer had anytime to blog about my experiences. So, now that my finals for the semester are out of the way, I can finally get to blog about how things have been going down here in the Florida Keys.

Theater of the Sea

I personally love my internship at Theater of the Sea. So, far, I have had the best five weeks of my life getting my foot in the animal training field through some hands-on experience with the dolphins, sea lions, and rays at the park. So far, I have done some water-work training sessions with the dolphins and a sea lion named Bella as well as a couple of feeding sessions here and there with the sting rays at stingray beach. In addition, I have been assisting a lot with getting music ready for the shows and picking out volunteers to meet the animals up-close in person. Some of these people have even asked me to picked them to meet the animals too like this one grandmother from France who came to the Keys with her young grandson because he wanted to see a dolphin. When she came up to me, I was so touched by her story how it was her grandson’s dream to meet a real dolphin that I had to pick him to meet one and so, after I fulfilled his wish, I picked him for a second time to toss rings to Wilbur the sea lion and believe me, he wowed the crowed by throwing the ring from a far distance. It felt so good granting some kid his life-long wish because this is the kind of stuff that most people may never get the chance to do and also, it was Christmas and I was taught for a long time that Christmas is not really about the presents you get under the Christmas tree, it’s more about caring for those who really want to be cared for.

Winter had been paired with Hope (Photo by Bay News 9)

Winter had been paired with Hope (Photo by Bay News 9)

Winter has Finally been Paired with Hope

With a lot of delight, I am very happy to day that Tampa Bay’s Bay News 9 has confirmed that Winter the dolphin has finally been paired with Hope almost one year after Clearwater Marine Aquarium’s youngest bottlenose dolphin was first moved to the Winter Zone from the Dolphin Zone where she had been residing since the winter of 2011. The CMA staff is reporting that Winter and Hope have been getting along very well and the introduction has been a huge success. Congrats to Winter and Hope and a very successful introduction.

Theater of the Sea Family Portrait

Theater of the Sea Family Portrait

Back to Life in the Keys….

Since my internship is a paid one, I have decided that I will be using all my current paychecks to pay to have my SCUBA lessons be done down here in Key Largo since I found out that it’s very expensive to get certified up north while it’s cheaper down here. Plus, I have always wanted to go scuba diving in Florida’s coral reefs  and see the ship wrecks that are down there. This would mean I would have stay in the Keys long after my internship ends and that would also mean finding a job down here too so that I would be able to help pay for the condo my mother and I are renting at the Moon Bay condominiums in Key Largo.  I am so glad that I’m spending the holidays in paradise because I don’t have to worry too much about the cold weather. Any way, I hope you all are having a great Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Merry Christmas everyone,

~Jenna~

Merry Christmas from the Florida Keys.

Merry Christmas from the Florida Keys.

 

Dolphin Tale Inspired Poem by South African Poet S.C. Duvenhage Pypers


During it’s theatrical run, “Dolphin Tale” was a Number 1 Box Office Hit in the United States, Canada, and Brazil. (Photo of Winter and Sawyer (Nathan Gamble) is a screenshot from “Dolphin Tale).

Since the movie Dolphin Tale was first released last fall, there has been a lot of feedback from people everywhere who said that not only were they in love with the movie and it’s storyline, but also, they were in love with Winter herself. Last night, I was checking The Winter Dolphin Chronicles facebook page when I was a posting from a South African poet named S.C. Duvenhage Pypers who wrote this beautiful poem about the story of Winter the dolphin and the people who rescued her in the movie. Her poem is titled A Dolphin Named Winter and it’s inspired by Dolphin Tale and I am more than happy to share this poem with all of you.

A Dolphin Named Winter……By S.C. Duvenhage Pypers

Stranded you were on the beach the ocean

 too far to reach caught in tight strings of rope

your body unable to cope Alone, scared and in pain

but hope you kept remain a little boy came helping you

and connected with you so true

Sick you were and sore and to eat you

didnt want to anymore but once again

the boy came through and with heart and

soul your bond grew You lost your tail and could not swim

but that did not keep you from gaining a win you taught yorself

to swim and move you were happy, friendly and with new groove

But then again the sad news came you will die if swimming remain

your heart was strong and the boy faught long A prosthetic tail you

would gain there will be sunshine after this at first it did not go

so well but given up was not about to sell The boy knew what

was wrong and got it fixed before too long now you’ve got a

brand new tail and into hearts of many you sail Winter, you

are our friend you are a dolphin angel to the end you

 are my inspiration and i now have a new destination.

Winter i’m swimming with youin my dreams… 😉

written by S.C.Duvenhage Pypers now after watching Dolphin Tale

Thank you very much Ms.Pypers for writing this beautiful poem about Winter. It’s just beautiful.

Hope you all have a great morning everyone,

~Jenna~

Merry Christmas Everyone


Even Winter says Merry Christmas too (photo of Winter was taken by a CMA photographer and the card was made on pizap.com)

Merry Christmas Everyone and may you all have a Happy New Year too. I hope you all got the chance to see Winter and her friends at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium this year and may you all get that same chance next year too.
~Jenna~

CMA Dolphin Story: Winter


Winter just relaxing in the "Winter Zone". She is an inspiration to millions of people worldwide.

 

Winter is an almost 6-year old sub-adult female bottlenose dolphin who was born around September 2005 off the coast of Florida. One day on December 9th, 2005, Winter found herself entangled in a blue crab trap in Mosquito Lagoon nearCape Canaveral, FL while playing with a buoy on the surface of the water. She would remain trapped for the next 36 hours. Then, the next day, Winter was saved by the rescue staff from the Harbor-Branch Oceanographic Institute and the Hubbs-SeaWorld Institute the next day on December 10th, that same year. The rescuers arrived after receiving a distress call from a local fishermen who found Winter entangled in the fishing gear. When she was freed, Winter was in serious condition that she was not expected to survive. She was then sent to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Clearwater, FL four hours later. There, her rehabilitation began. With blood cut off as a result of being in the trap for so long, Winter lost both her entire tail and two vertebrae a few days later. Most dolphins who get entangled in fishing traps often die either during the process or shortly after getting trapped. Winter on the other hand, despite the prediction that she would not survive her ordeal, her condition later began to improve. But, this was only the beginning of an amazing story of survival from the dangers that many dolphins face as a result of human activity.

How Winter Got Her Prosthetic Tail…..

In the Wild, dolphins having no tail can lead to either serious injury or even death. Winter on the other hand, was now in human care but still had to learn how to swim in a very different pattern that is similar to that of fish and snakes. She had now adapted to this swim pattern as well as eating on her own for the first few days of her arrival, she was hand fed by the vets and volunteers who rescued her. They used a tube to feed her. In 2006, CMA announced plans to create a bionic tail for Winter. So for several months, people everywhere collected money for the project. In August 2007, Winter was fitted in her first artificial tail that was created by Hanger Prosthetics and Orthotics, Inc. Winter would only become the second captive dolphin to ever receive an artificial tail. Over the course of a number of months, Winter had to learn how to use the correct body position to be fitted for the stretchy plastic sleeve. This is the one that is mainly used for human prosthetics. Her trainers have also created one that is more form-fitted version of this sleeve. The sleeve will probably have to be adjusted as Winter gets older. So far, Winter has had 16 tails over the course of her lifetime. The tail fluke acts as a dolphin’s power house. The dolphin uses it to swim at the fastest of speeds, and to sometimes defend themselves predators such as sharks and killer whales.

 

 

 

 

I shake hands with Winter Dolphin at Clearwater Marine Aquarium during my day off from work.

Today, Winter continues to thrive as a “bionic” but tailless dolphin at one of  Clearwater Marine Aquarium’s three dolphin exhibits. Over the years since her rescue and arrival at CMA in 2005, She has inspired people from around the world to know, love, and care about the plight of dolphins in the wild. She has even inspired those who suffer from disabilities to overcome their limits. In fact, Winter’s amazing story has appeared on NBC, The Bonnie Hunt Show, CNN, BBC, and a number of newspapers worldwide. She has even become the subject of a 2009 direct-to-DVD documentary called Winter, the Dolphin That Could. Winter currently weights in at around 230 pounds and has completely healed from her injury from the crab trap. Winter is very calm, and studious. However, she can sometimes be very playful and interactive towards guests when she has her moments. She has even been adopted by an old female dolphin name Panama shortly after being paired with her in the main tank. Winter does both public training sessions and guests interactions like all the other CMA dolphins. As of 2006, Winter has been declared as unreleasable by NOAA Fisheries due to serve injuries from the entanglement at Mosquito Lagoon. You can currently see Winter and Panama at the “Winter Zone” exhibit at Clearwater Marine Aquarium.

 

Floating Bed Wars: Starring Winter and Panama


Oh, Winter and her beloved floating bed

Panama relaxing on the bed Winter tries to steal from her all the time.

Winter always tries to steal the floating bed from Panama whenever it’s in the water and Panama’s using it. As a result, the two dolphins will “fight” over the bed although they might be actually playing around with each other. In most cases, Winter ends up winning the floating bed; but, on some occasions, Panama will give in to get back her beloved bed and will continue to rest on it. It is such the funniest moment at Clearwater Marine Aquarium.

In your opinion, who did you think won the battle? Was it Winter or Panama?

Funny Video by the Marine Mammal Team at CMA: Winter Watches “Dolphin Tale” Trailer!!


On July 5th, members of the marine mammal team allowed Winter to watch a movie trailer for her upcoming film Dolphin Tale. I just watched it myself and believe me, I think it’s the funniest thing ever to see a dolphin watch herself on a lab-top. What do you guys all think?

Oh, in case you wanted to see the trailer yourself like Winter, here it is below:

My Dolphin Encounter with Winter and Panama Plus a Snorkel Party


The author (me) with Panama, an elderly bottlenose dolphin in her forties.

So About a week before I returned home to New Hampshire, my sister Janis and I did a dolphin encounter program that Clearwater Marine Aquarium offers as one of it’s many dolphin interaction programs that are available to the public. The encounter usually begins with a behind the scenes tour, where you can see how the aquarium works and some of the sights and sounds of the upcoming movie “Dolphin Tale”. But because Janis and I were working at the aquarium for the summer and we simply knew everything about the facility, so it was decided by trainer Abby Stone and her team that our session would last an additional few minutes. So, at about 3:30 PM, Abby led us to the Winter Zone and that was when our encounter began.

Here is me feeding a fish to Winter the Dolphin with my sister Janis and hero Abby at my side.

When I got my feet into the watery platform, man, it was cold but at the same time, it felt pretty much relaxing too at the same time. The temperature of the water was about 77 degrees. It was just the perfect temperature for such a hot day as it was. Back to the encounter, Abby introduced us to celebrity dolphin Winter. My sister and I got to feed her fish, touch her flipper, and give her a few signals. However, While we got all touchy with Winter, we also got to learn a little bit about dolphin anatomy like the dorsal fin, and pectoral fins. Winter was a bit vocal too. But while, we focused on Winter, her adopted mother Panama come right up to us like it was her turn or something. Abby on the other hand, instructed us to not look at Panama and focus on interacting with Winter for the rest of the first session.

 

It's now Panama's turn to interact with us.

After our session with Winter was over, it was now time to play with Panama. But first, we started off her session with three photo sessions with Panama before the encounter began. Some of the behaviors we gave to Panama included “singing” to us, splashing and waving at us. It was like Panama was putting on a show of her own. It was such a great day to play with Winter and Panama while getting to know some great trainers who spend their time educating everyone about dolphins and other marine life while working the animals at the same time.

Here's how I celebrated a great summer at CMA.............Snorkle Party!! (photo is by fellow intern, Jackie Lewis)

So, on the last Thursday of my internship, CMA’s education interns held an evening boat party that took you out to go snorkeling in the harbor. When we got to a nearby sand bar, I just jumped off the boat and I began  my snorkeling experience. I swan through a bed full of sand dollars, conchs, and crabs. I would find sand dollars that were the size of my hand, and show it off to everyone before putting back in the water because they were all alive. Soon after, I found a blue crab that was resting inside an old pipe. At first, I thought there was nothing but sand inside the pipe, but after taking a good peek inside the small pipe, I found the crab in there and allowed everyone to see him for a while. Don’t worry, we did not bring him back with us, instead, we let him be by returning him to the same spot where we found him.  After our little encounter with the blue crab and more snorkeling, I ended up finding a large lighting whelk. Once I picked it up, I tell everyone “hey look what I have on me…it’s a whelk, please come take a look. Soon, everyone took a look it before it began to move around my hands for a few minutes before fellow intern Amy sighted a loggerhead turtle who was 100 yards away from us. When Amy broke the news about the turtle sighting, I put the whelk back into the water so, that I could try to get a good glimpse of the turtle myself. Eventually, she surfaced for us a few times before she swam off to sea. It was not long before it was time to head back to the aquarium because it was about to storm in Clearwater. Overall, it was such a great evening and good way to end a great summer.

I am so going to miss seeing Janis playing Tina the turtle.

My last day was the following Friday and I got invited to intern at the aquarium again next year. Don’t worry, This blog will have new entries year around. So stay tuned.