Amplitude / blog / amputee to amputee / Dolphin Tale 2: Winter Now Has Hope

Dolphin Tale 2: Winter Now Has Hope

Exclusive live coverage from Amplitude.

Winter the dolphin made an appearance at the blue carpet event. Photographs by Laura Fonda Hochnadel.

The blue carpet was laid out at the Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater,
Florida, on September 10 for that city’s premiere showing
of Dolphin Tale 2. Various cast and crew members were in
attendance including Nathan Gamble (Sawyer Nelson), Cozi
Zuehlsdorff (Hazel Haskett), Austin Stowell (Kyle Connellan),
Betsy Landin (Kat the dolphin trainer), and dolphin mascots
Winter and Hope. Also walking the blue carpet were Dan
Strzempka, CPO, a practitioner with Hanger Clinic’s Sarasota,
Florida, patient care facility, and Kevin Carroll, CP, vice president
of prosthetics, Hanger Clinic, Austin, Texas.

From left: Pedro Pimenta, who has quadruple amputations, was Carroll’s guest at the event.

The two practitioners have gained a following for the prosthetic
tail (now in about its 18th iteration) and specially formulated
gel prosthetic sock they developed for Winter the
bottlenose dolphin who first made headlines in December
2005 when she was found off the coastal waters of Florida. She
was ensnared in the rope of a crab trap and was brought to the
Clearwater Marine Aquarium (CMA) for rehabilitation. The
rope cut off circulation to her lower tail and fluke, which she
subsequently lost. Winter’s real-life saga was introduced on the
big screen in the 2011 movie Dolphin Tale.

Prior to the showing of Dolphin Tale 2, the colors were presented
by the Amputee Veterans of America Support Team
(AVAST) Color Guard, billed as the only amputee color guard
in the United States. That was followed by country music star
and Tampa Bay, Florida-area native Carolyn Kole, who performed
for the full house. Kole sang “Winter,” a song she wrote
after first reading
about the dolphin’s
story. Her rendition
of Sheryl Crow’s
“Soak Up the Sun”
also got the audience
singing and clapping

The AVAST Color Guard presents the colors.

The Dolphin Tale
story line picks up
several years later,
and also is inspired
by true events. When
the movie opens,
Winter had been paired with another bottlenose dolphin who,
shortly into the film, succumbs to old age. Due to her companion’s
death, Winter suffers from depression and refuses to
wear her prosthetic tail. By refusing to wear the prosthetic tail,
Winter’s accommodative, side-to-side swim style is causing
her spine to curve even more. The worsening scoliosis is not
only worsening her health, but so is the depression. (In reality,
according to Mike Atwell, CMA’s former marketing director,
Winter does not wear the prosthetic tail full time. Rather,
because Winter learned to swim without her tail, it caused her
dorsal muscles to build disproportionately to her remaining
tail, which caused the scoliosis. The prosthetic tail is used for
rehabilitative measures and she wears it about three times per
day.) Under threat of Winter being relocated to another facility
by the U.S. Department of Agriculture-due to their social
natures, dolphins are required to be paired-CMA comes
under pressure to find another poolmate for Winter or risk the
loss of a treasured animal and possibly face serious financial
ramifications with the loss of a featured draw to the aquarium.

Hope the dolphin also made an appearance at the Clearwater premiere.

However, finding another companion is not that easy. CMA
practices rescue, rehabilitation, and release, so a suitable
replacement must, first of all, be another female dolphin and,
second, must be unable to survive in the wild, meaning it will
become a permanent CMA resident like Winter.

Dolphin Tale 2 is about friendship, resilience, and hope. In
this case, the embodiment of hope comes in the form of another
dolphin that eventually is rescued and found to be compatible
with Winter, and aptly named Hope. The movie opened to
audiences across the country on September 12.

-Laura Fonda Hochnadel