The Real Story behind the Movie
"Dolphin Tale", the movie, released September 23, 2011, is based on the story of a young dolphin found caught in a crab trap in 2005. She was found on Mosquito Lagoon at Canaveral National Seashore by fisherman Jim Savage. Savage released her from the trap and so began a cherished love affair between "Winter', the dolphin and the world. Winter's injuries caused her to lose her tail, which raised the question of her being able to survive. Winter's courage and determination inspires others, especially those who have trouble adjusting to losing a limb.
In the film, Winter is found by a lonely kid, whose relationship with Winter was at least partially inspired by a real relationship between the Dolphin with no tail and a little girl named Katrina. See more on her story in the module below. The story line is changed, but Winter still gets to play herself. Her story of courage and perseverance is inspiring both in real life and in the film version.
Photo from Clearwater Aquarium
Healing a Dolphin leads to Healing Humans too!
Here's evidence that one good thing really does lead to another.Dolphins move differently than humans, and her prosthetic tail had to be able to move with her. So that the device was not too tight or too loose on her delicate skin, her team developed a special sock for her to use with her tail. The sock was dubbed "winter's gel", and is made of a soft, rubbery material which reduces friction between the skin and the prosthesis. It creates a suction, which helps her tail stick to her body like a surgical glove sticks to your hands.
Turns out, many would be users of prosthetic limbs simply could not do it because of the pain of wearing their prosthesis. Enter Winter's gel! Now many who could not wear their prosthetic limbs are able to, because of using Winter's gel. So, if our hero had not helped rescue that baby dolphin caught in a crab trap, many people missing an arm or a leg would still not be able to wear their prosthetic limbs.
Way to go, Jim, Winter, and team!
Winter and her real life rescuer - Share a special reunion
After her rescue, Jim Savage lost touch with her progress until he heard of a local school participating in a documentary about her. He was reunited with Winter and visited with her during the filming of the movie.
"When I cut her loose,
..She was kind of bloodied,
but I figured she'd swim away."
"Then, she was just leaning on
her side, and I knew she wasn't
doing real good,"
"I didn't want to lose sight of her,
I definitely wasn't going to
leave at that point."
"We rounded her up a few times,"
"When it was in waist-deep water,
I jumped in and held on to her."
.... Jim Savage,
on his real life rescue of Winter
Katrina Simpkins: Winter's Real Life Friend who Inspired the Story
She Shares a Special Bond with Winter
Before the soldiers and the many others who started visiting Winter for healing, there was a visit from a lonely little girl named Katrina. Back in 2007, Katrina and her Family came to the Aquarium one summer while on vacation. Like Winter, Katrina had mobility issues, but it wasn't just that. She was having a tough time coping with her disability. The prosthetic leg she wore made her feel different. And, to top it all off, there were kids teasing her at school. The visit to Clearwater Marine Aquarium was a quick stop on the way to Disney World. The family had no idea how profound this visit would become.
The friendship that blossomed between Katrina and Winter, and the whole staff, was the beginning of what would become the touching story we know today. So much of the inspiration for the movie came from this little girl and her relationship with Winter.
Read the full write up in the Tampa Bay times by John Barry.
Be on the lookout for a book about their bond coming out soon:
Katrina and Winter: Partners in Courage
Written by Nancy Stewart
From "Winter's tale: Entourage"
Katrina crept to the tank's edge.
Winter came to her.
She lifted her head.
She made eye contact.
She seemed to be speaking to Katrina:
We're the same.
John Barry - Tampa Bay Times
Katrina - the Junior Trainer
Katrina's Mom, Maria Simpkins, sent me this picture of Katrina getting to be a Junior trainer at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium with Elaina Franklin. It was Maria who let me know of Katrina's story. Big thanks to both Katrina and Maria for your courage and for sharing your story with us!
The Book on Katrina and Winter - Such a dear story!
This is a great book for all ages, but is especially great for kids with challenges of all kinds. Thanks to the courage of Katrina and her incredible bond with Winter, children are inspired to live life more fully than they ever believed possible!
Thank you so much, Katrina for sharing your story about Winter! Best of luck to you both always!
Winter gave Katrina confidence. After they got to know each other, Katrina went on to do all kinds of wonderful things - she completed modeling school, played basketball, gymnastics, horseback riding, and acted as a role model for people with special needs among other things.
Would you like to meet Winter
in Real Life?
She lives at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. This is where she has been rehabilitated. A big shout out to them for donating the cost of rehabilitation and saving Winter, as well as the many other marine animals they save. Way to go, CMA! "Ambassadors of the Sea"!
Winter the Dolphin - Inspired the film
Expert Prosthetist who created Winter's Tail
"I came straight down, saw Winter (and) felt really sorry for her. And I came in and I said, 'OK, we'll fit her little tail. Not a big deal.' Little did I know it was going to take a year and a half to do,"
....Kevin Carroll in an interview with CBS News
Dusky Dolphin - Tail walking! Maybe Winter can do this with her new tail someday!
Why Doesn't She Wear her Tail All the Time?
Winter's trainers decided it's best to increase her time with the tail gradually, allowing her to build up strength and prevent injury.
The Soldiers' Angels Premier - Winter's Story is Healing
The Featurette - On Winter, the Dolphin - of "Dolphin Tale"
Where to find more on the Movie - and the Real Story of Winter
- IMDb - Dolphin Tale (2011)
Directed by Charles Martin Smith. With Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd, Harry Connick Jr., Nathan Gamble. A story centered on the friendship between a boy and a dolphin whose tail was lost in a crab trap.
- Dolphin Tale - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Dolphin Tale From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- Dolphin With Prosthetic Tail Gets Ready For Waves Of Publicity
Tourists who visit Hollywood are often disappointed when they discover that the celebrities they love aren't exactly walking up and down the street. That's not the case in Clearwater Beach, Fla., where visitors are guaranteed to see at least one cele
- Clearwater Marine Aquarium
Visit Clearwater Help Build Winter's New Home--> Things to Do at CMA
- Prosthetic tail dolphin's story made into film - CBS News
The Early Show: Prosthetic tail dolphin's story made into film - Winter, saved from a net and nursed back to health by a Florida aquarium, stars in movie with A-list celebs
- Winter's Tail
Winter's Tail How One Little Dolphin Learned to Swim Again. Told by Isabella Hatkoff, Juliana Hatkoff, Craig Hatkoff, and Dr. Paula Kahumbu Winter is a dolphin. Just over two years ago, when she was a baby, she was rescued from a crab trap, her tail
- Dolphin Tale
The movie's site at Warner Brothers
- Yates knew that dolphin with prosthetic tail had a message to share | Lubbock Online | Lubbock Avala
David Yates never thought much about dolphins while growing up.Oceans were not on his mind during the five years he called West Texas home as a boy. He attended Evans (then) Junior High School and Monterey High School in Lubbock in the late 1970s, ba
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