September 21, 2011 HSWRI plays a major role in the rescue of Winter, star of Dolphin Tale
the inspirational story about Winter, the tailless bottlenose dolphin, is
scheduled for release this weekend. While her story of rehabilitation is remarkable
and certainly deserving of Hollywood’s attention, the movie only touches on
Winter’s amazing rescue by Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute’s (HSWRI) Marine
Mammal Stranding Team and other animal care experts who struggled for almost an
entire day to save her life.
morning of December 10, 2005 Teresa Mazza, research assistant for HSWRI
received a call from Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FFWC) asking her to
respond to a call from a fisherman who had found a baby dolphin tangled in a
crab pot line in Mosquito Lagoon in Canaveral National Seashore, Florida.
When Teresa arrived on the scene,
the dolphin was bleeding and gasping for air. Her tail already destroyed by her
struggles and lack of circulation to it. She was sure the dolphin was
dying. Teresa called her colleague and friend Claire Surrey at the FFWC, who
came right out to help. There were able to guide the dolphin to a sandbar and
took turns holding her in the across their laps in the frigid water.
Teresa said, “When we first got close she was squealing in pain and freaking
out. But once I had her in the shallow water, she lay with her head in my
lap. I kept splashing her and tried to shade her from the sun to stop her
burning.” Teresa and Claire continued to monitor her vital signs,
and did their best to keep the young dolphin calm.
Finally at dusk, a SeaWorld
rescue van arrived. Teresa, Claire and a team from Harbor Branch carried the baby
dolphin ashore in a stretcher. It was a
five-hour trip to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, her new home, where she would
be named Winter.
The dolphin squealed loudly as
they took her away on a stretcher. "You could tell she still had a lot of
energy and fight left in her," Teresa said. "It's a good sign,
did survive, but her tail did not. Those hours she spent trapped by
the crap pot lines cut off circulation and her tail rotted off taking
three vertebrae with it. But we all know by now the story has a happy
ending. Winter was fitted with a prosthetic tail to aid in her recovery
and she is now the star in a Hollywood movie.
this is an incredible story, this is just one example of the lengths
to which our Marine Mammal Stranding Team and other marine mammal
specialist will go to in order to care for these wonderful animals on a