Monday, January 24, 2022

Ashes Of Winter Movie Star Dolphin Released Into The Bay

CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) — The ashes of Winter the dolphin were returned to the sea on Thursday, about two months after the beloved movie-famous marine mammal died in a Florida aquarium.

Clearwater Marine Aquarium employees released a Himalayan sea salt urn containing Winter’s ashes into the Gulf of Mexico from a US Coast Guard rescue boat.

“Being able to bring Winter back to her natural home was the best feeling in the world,” said Kelly Martin, Aquarium’s vice president of animal care. “Our goal at Clearwater Marine Aquarium is always to rehabilitate rescued marine life so they can return to the wild.

“In Winter’s case, as with all animals that should not be released into the wild, she was unfortunately unable to complete her return to the wild in her lifetime. But today we were able to take her the last step – to return home.

Winter died on November 11 at the age of 16 from an inoperable bowel problem. The dolphin was rescued in December 2005 on the east coast of Florida after its tail caught on a crab trap and had to be amputated.

Winter’s uplifting recovery story with the help of an unprecedented prosthetic tail was the subject of two Dolphin Story films in 2011 and 2014, making the creature a hero to people with disabilities and chronic illnesses around the world.

A US Coast Guard C-130 trestle began the ceremony at sea, followed by the reading of a poem, aquarium officials said. Ashes were released by Martin and veterinarian Dr. Shelley Marquardt. Rose and orchid petals were released into the bay, and the crew blew soap bubbles in honor of one of Winter’s favorite enrichment activities.

The Clearwater Marine Aquarium will continue to honor Winter’s legacy by erecting a memorial on site, immersing in virtual reality and donating to the aquarium’s lifelong support.

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