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Dolphin Tale

Updated on April 10, 2018

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

Winter's Tail
Winter's Tail

Winter's Gel

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

Winter and Savage
Winter and Savage

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.

Winter's Rescue

"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
Katrina Simpkins

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 stopped.

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 and Elaina
Katrina and Elaina

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!

Katrina and Winter: Partners in Courage
Katrina and Winter: Partners in Courage

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.

Meet Winter
Meet Winter

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

Kevin Carroll, MS, CP, FAAOP
Kevin Carroll, MS, CP, FAAOP

Kevin Carroll

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!

Dusky Dolphin - Tail walking! Maybe Winter can do this with her new tail someday!
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"

Dolphin Tale Featurette
Dolphin Tale Featurette

Tell us about it! Or just comment on your thoughts about this lens. Thanks for visiting!

Did you see the movie? - Or have you heard about Winter's Tail?

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    • profile image

      aurora 2 years ago

      I missed a part in the 2nd movie when the dolphin dies

    • profile image

      katie 2 years ago

      i enjoy watching winter play when i am sad i like to look at pictures of her i love her i am going to work there

    • DreamingBoomer profile image

      Karen Kay 3 years ago from Jackson, MS

      How bout that! I hope you tell Winter hello for me! Best of luck to you!

    • profile image

      angelina 3 years ago

      i watched the second one and the first one and it was awesome i am about to watch it again after i take a bath but thang she is the custest thing i ever seen tomorrow im going to see her thank you so so so so so much for putting it up but a special thanks to the pub author love you so much i hope you get the comment and tell winter that i sayed hi winter and guess what else i am going ywork there byyyyyyyye.

    • profile image

      laurie-chambers-58 4 years ago

      I love the movie

    • profile image

      laurie-chambers-58 4 years ago

      I also love dolphins and whales and have seen the movie

    • profile image

      heather0513 4 years ago

      Dolphin Tale is GREAT movie!!!This movie made me think about becoming a marine biologist. I can't wait till the second one comes out. I was gonna go see Winter but they were working the second movie so i couldn't:( I hope get to meet her one day.:)

    • profile image

      brooklynlexus0227 4 years ago

      yes I saw the movie it is awesome and winter is adorable

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Sea is the best choice

    • profile image

      samah-adballah 5 years ago

      Absolutely fantastic

      i love it

    • profile image

      samah-adballah 5 years ago

      Absolutely fantastic

    • profile image

      TanoCalvenoa 5 years ago

      I haven't seen it but I want to now.

    • netangel profile image

      Melissa 5 years ago from Florida

      I live in Tampa, so I've been lucky to visit Winter. Such a beautiful story!

    • cgbroome profile image

      cgbroome 5 years ago

      I have not seen the movie but would love to. I'll have to have a box of tissue with me I'm sure.

    • BunnyFabulous profile image

      BunnyFabulous 5 years ago from Central Florida

      I've seen the movie, and my daughter is completely in love with Winter. We live a couple of hours from the Clearwater Aquarium, so we'll be making a visit to see her sometime in the near future. Thanks for the accurate story!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Kathy thanyou for save winter because is so much beautiful to save a dolphins and other kind of animals THANKYOU KATHY I LOVE YOU.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      i love winter i would love to see her but i don't have any money xxxxxx

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      this movie is amazing i love it like i love my mum and dad winter is so inspire ring

      i would love to see her xxxxxxxx

    • northwestarkansas profile image

      northwestarkansas 5 years ago

      Yes, I saw the movie and loved it! Thank you for such a wonderful lens.

    • DreamingBoomer profile image

      Karen Kay 5 years ago from Jackson, MS

      @anonymous: Thank YOU Katrina! I've added your book to the page! Congratulations!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Thank you so much for your blog. Every time I check in I see something new. I think your blog is the most accurate.

      My book, "Katrina and Winter Partners In Courage", is out now. It can be purchased at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Nancy Stewart books, and Guardian Angel Publisher.

      I just saw Winter last month at Clearwater Marine Aquarium and she is doing wonderful. I did my first dolphin show with Hope the dolphin, the upcoming star. Clearwater Marine Aquarium still feels like home to me.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      it was sad the movie dolphin tale i was crying when i very first saw this

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      it was a sad movie i was crying when i fist saw it it is sad now i am going to watch it in theaters kool but sad at the same time :( i am crying right now i saw the preiveiws

    • OrlandoTipster profile image

      OrlandoTipster 5 years ago

      No but it was all over the news here

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 5 years ago

      Great story thank so muck. Blessings!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      thanks for the making of the movie it was great and thanks to little Winter and of cause the people that help little Winter

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      thank you for making this movie it showed me we all get 2nd chances and thanks to little WINTER and the the people that help her you really did make a difference in my life

    • profile image

      sheezie77 5 years ago

      Beautiful lens, great job! Squidlike

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I love dolphins and do fall in love with this wonderfully real story behind the movie lens. Very proud to be here. Have wonderful times.. always.. dear lady Karen Kay :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      @anonymous: ur a good kid hazel

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      i love dolfin tale

    • XxSadieLadyxX profile image

      XxSadieLadyxX 6 years ago

      Great lense. I really want to see this movie!

    • DreamingBoomer profile image

      Karen Kay 6 years ago from Jackson, MS

      @anonymous: Thanks for the visit Katrina! You're our hero!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Loved Dolphin Tale....Love Winter more! She is my greatest inspiration in life.

      Thanks for the nice article.

    • DreamingBoomer profile image

      Karen Kay 6 years ago from Jackson, MS

      @kathysart: Thanks so much Kathy!

    • kathysart profile image

      kathysart 6 years ago

      Wow.. this is really a nice lens, so well done! Thumbs up and angel blessed.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 6 years ago

      I saw it and found it to be so moving.

    • reflectionhaiku profile image

      reflectionhaiku 6 years ago

      How dolphins are so friendly to humans are incredible. The tale of Winter and your lens are both exceptional. Thanks for your inspirational lens -

    • DreamingBoomer profile image

      Karen Kay 6 years ago from Jackson, MS

      @sousababy: Wow! I am truly honored! Thanks so much! Bless you for the work you do, too!

    • sousababy profile image

      sousababy 6 years ago

      Indeed, I have heard about Winter's Tail. I am an orthotic/prosthetic technician (graduated in 1994) and I have the utmost respect for Kevin Carroll (who designed her tail). I'm not surprised at how difficult this would be to make (I mean anchoring a functional prosthetic to a dolphin that is strong enough to endure being in water to propel - would take some ingenious modifications and lots of trial-and-error, for sure). On the recommendation of haikuwedding, I am adding this wonderful lens to my 'Living Articles on Squidoo.' Incredible story and great video feeds. Thank you for sharing. Google +1ed too.



    • adamfrench profile image

      adamfrench 6 years ago

      Thumbs up, great lens

    • profile image

      Joan4 6 years ago

      Oh our young grandchildren just saw this movie. Their Aunt Kathy took them. Kathy said she cried and cried. The children were fascinated with the soldier's and little children's prostheses. and they loved the entire movie! Congratulations on your 100th!!!!!!!!

    • Nancy Hardin profile image

      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 6 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      I haven't yet seen the movie, but I've heard and read about Winter and the story of how she was saved and rehabilitated. Wonderful lens! Thanks for sharing.

    • jptanabe profile image

      Jennifer P Tanabe 6 years ago from Red Hook, NY

      Seen the trailer but not the movie. Now I'm more interested in the movie!

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 6 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      This is interesting. Haven't seen the movie yet.


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