CLEARWATER — Winter, the stranded dolphin who stars in the movie Dolphin Tale, has inspired millions with her story. Now, people are returning the sentiment.
The Clearwater Marine Aquarium announced Sunday that preliminary blood tests showed Winter, who lost her tail in 2005 and learned to swim with a prosthetic device, may be fighting a gastrointestinal infection.
Just one day later, the outpouring of comments from far and wide has topped 1,400.
On the aquarium’s Facebook page, fans of Winter have responded to a request for get-well wishes with stories of their own Winter experiences and of how she has touched their lives.
Kayla Hartwig said her daughter, 10, has a deep love for marine life and hopes to become a marine biologist. The girl still talks about Winter, seven years after she visited the aquarium.
Stacy Edwards said her 15-year-old daughter beat stage 4 Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The Make-A-Wish Foundation arranged for her to see Winter — an amazing experience, the mom said, despite a 17-hour drive.
The words of encouragement are coming from across the globe.
Heather Lucas, from the United Kingdom, called it an honor to meet Winter. She hopes she’ll pull through.
Janette Chapman from Australia said Winter’s story and her accomplishments have moved her to tears.
The Clearwater aquarium has cared for Winter since she was rescued on Dec. 10, 2005, in Mosquito Lagoon near Cape Canaveral on Florida’s east coast. At just 2 months old, Winter’s tail became entangled in a crab trap. She ultimately lost the tail but became famous for the prosthetic with which she was fitted.
Winter starred in Dolphin Tale, a 2011 movie based on her recovery. A second movie, Dolphin Tale 2, was released three years later and also featured Hope, another rescued dolphin at the Clearwater aquarium.
Caretakers on Monday were running more tests on Winter, aquarium spokesperson Kelsy Long said.