With heavy hearts, Clearwater Marine Aquarium announced that Winter the Dolphin passed away on November 11, 2021, due to an intestinal abnormality. Winter the Dolphin has encouraged millions around the world through her remarkable rescue story. Her enduring spirit will live on in our hearts forever and her legacy will continue to inspire.
Give a gift to Winter’s Legacy Endowment and secure a meaningful future for Clearwater Marine Aquarium to continue our mission of preserving the environment while inspiring the human spirit. Your endowment gift will ensure we remain a leader in the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of marine life; along with environmental education; research; and conservation for years to come.
Winter the Dolphin was unlike any other. Winter has encouraged millions around the world through her remarkable rescue story. We want to honor her spirit and legacy by continuing to share her story. Whether you have visited CMA before and met Winter or always wanted to meet Winter, you now have the opportunity to experience our tribute to her.
The VR musical experience will feature her song “In Our Hearts, You’ll Be” by Stephen Page. CMA’s Virtual Reality Theater is an immersive experience that features state-of-the-art, motion platform VR technology that transports guests into a unique experience. This VR Experience is free with your VR purchase.
January 13, 2022
Today, Winter the Dolphin made her return to the sea. Encased in a Himalayan sea salt urn, the ashes of Winter were released into the Gulf of Mexico by her animal care staff aboard the U.S. Coast Guard’s 45-foot Response Boat.
In her honor, there was a C-130 flyover by the Coast Guard to begin the ceremony-at-sea. A poem was read in her memory before her ashes were released. Flower petals of roses and orchids were also released into the Gulf and the team blew bubbles, honoring one of Winter’s favorite enrichment activities
We would like to thank all of Winter’s fans who have shared their love and supported CMA during this time. Together we will keep her inspiration alive forever. Her legacy will continue at Clearwater Marine Aquarium with an onsite memorial for visitors, virtual experiences, and an endowment in Winter’s honor that will safeguard indefinite support of CMA. We look forward to welcoming all to visit and share her memory at CMA and continuing her legacy with future generations.
In Our Hearts You’ll Be
A poem adapted from the song “In Our Heart You’ll Be” ©2021, written by Stephen Page.
A beautiful baby when you first arrived
there was a tiny chance that you’d survive
but there nothing about you that was typical
your life was truly like a miracle
you became our heart and our soul
our inspiration to believe
in a world that you left more beautiful
as you were the greatest gift we could not
your life will never be forgotten
we are thankful for all you gave
you always healed the hurting
so many people you have saved
we will miss you sweetest girl
you now have oceans to explore
until we meet once again
we hope you’ll swim and play for evermore
now you’re free
may you jump ever high
with blue skies above the sea
may you forever splash in the sun
in our hearts you’ll always be
your light shines on everyone
you will live on and on
now you’re free
now you’re free
December 10, 2021
On the 16th anniversary of her rescue, Clearwater Marine Aquarium proudly announces its plans to honor Winter the Dolphin’s legacy.
“When a loved one passes there is a very real fear that we will forget the sound of their voice or even the way they walked. For those of us who loved Winter, I’m proud to announce that Winter will live on in the physical world as well as the digital world so her signature tweet, demeanor, and personality can never be forgotten,” said President Dr. James “Buddy” Powell.
Virtual reality experiences at CMA
“We have the technology available to us where guests will be able to virtually swim with Winter and experience her personality as if she were still alive,” said Powell. Throughout her life, CMA captured 360-degree videos of Winter and countless 2-D images which will be produced into a virtual reality immersive experience that guests will be able to visit onsite in CMA’s Virtual Reality theater starting January 2022.
On-going Memorial at CMA
Winter inspired so many people across the globe. CMA encourages the community and fans of CMA to bring notes, cards, and share their stories about how she impacted their lives, or those of a loved one, to a memorial onsite beginning December 26 next to the old Winter Zone where she spent most of her life.
Winter’s Legacy Endowment
“Through a collaboration with the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay, this permanent endowment establishes a long-term sustainability strategy for the future of our organization,” said Powell. Beginning January 2022, gifts to Winter’s Endowment are invested, and a portion of the annual income for the investment is used to address any immediate needs. The remaining funds are reinvested to safeguard indefinite support of CMA.
Returning her to the sea
After her necropsy, Winter’s body was cremated. In a final tribute to her, CMA staff will release her ashes into the Gulf of Mexico this January. “Returning Winter to her natural home is a poetic ending to her incredible 16-year journey and we couldn’t think of a better way to lay her spirit to rest,” said Powell.
Winter the Dolphin inspired millions across the world with her message of perseverance. Her story, as told in Dolphin Tale and Dolphin Tale 2 resulted in a $2 billion impact to Pinellas County from 2012 to 2015 when the rest of the country was coming out of a recession. In 2020, Clearwater Marine Aquarium opened an $80 million expansion including a brand new 1.5 million-gallon water dolphin habitat providing CMA with the ability to care for more rescued and non-releasable dolphins.
The memorial ceremony in honor of Winter the Dolphin below was livestreamed on November 20.
Share your memories and photos of Winter with us at RememberingWinter.com
A Song for Winter
A song made just for Winter ❤️
“In Our Hearts You’ll Be” – Red Marker 28
Lyrics by Stephen Page. Music by Rudiger. ©2021 all rights reserved
A: Preliminary results indicate the cause of Winter’s death was an intestinal torsion – essentially, Winter’s intestines had twisted deep in her intestine
A: We used pain control and did everything in our power to make sure Winter was comfortable. Our Animal Care team was there with her to comfort her at all times.
A: A full necropsy was performed to help us understand the cause of her death and to learn more about her anatomy. There is so much we can learn from her, even in death, to help save and care for rescued animals. Plans are being made for her body to honor her life and legacy.
A: There is a temporary memorial set up near the front entrance staircase at Clearwater Marine Aquarium for anyone who would like to drop off items. We welcome all to join us for a Celebration of Life at Clearwater Marine Aquarium Saturday, November 20 and Sunday, November 21, with extended days through Wednesday, November 24. For more details, visit the event page on our website.
A: Yes, Winter’s fans and followers are invited to share their stories and photos at RememberingWinter.com. We also have a temporary memorial set up near the front entrance staircase at Clearwater Marine Aquarium for anyone who would like to drop off items.
A: Yes, this is a condition that is found in stranded wild dolphins as well as any living being with intestines.
A: The community still has much to learn as to the cause, treatment and prevention of torsion. Because of Winter’s injury and the distortion it caused in her body, she was more prone to facing health complications since her rescue 16 years ago.
A: The community still has much to learn as to the cause, treatment and prevention of torsions. For Winter, her injury caused a distortion in her anatomy making her more susceptible to such conditions. The prosthetic tail created for her by Hanger Clinic helped delay the progression and gave her 16 wonderful years in our care.
A: The distortion in Winter’s anatomy has made her more susceptible to such conditions. The prosthetic tail created for her by Hanger Clinic helped delay the progression and gave her 16 wonderful years in our care.
A: The prosthetic tail created for her by Hanger Clinic helped delay the progression and gave her 16 wonderful years in our care.
A: Our dedicated team continues to provide the highest quality of care to all our residents and rescued animals at CMA 24/7. At this time, they are getting extra love and attention from our animal care team. Additionally, they have all been checked and cleared by our veterinarian who found no signs of illness and are acting normally.
A: CMA will keep her prosthetics onsite in memory of beloved Winter at CMA for her fans and extended family to visit.
A: Winter’s legacy will continue in many different ways and one of those will be through the Inspire Program. We remain committed to our Inspire program and guests.
November 14, 2021
In honor of beloved Winter the Dolphin, Clearwater Marine Aquarium is hosting several opportunities for her fans, followers, and extended family to celebrate her life beginning on Saturday, November 20.
A private early-morning ceremony will be held in Clearwater for all active CMA staff, interns and volunteers. Details are forthcoming and will be provided separately to the team.
All are welcome to join for a Celebration of Life at Clearwater Marine Aquarium beginning on Saturday, November 20 with extended dates through Wednesday, November 24 as we come together as a community to celebrate Winter’s life and the impact she made on each and every one of us. Guests are invited to bring their memories of Winter and to enjoy the beautiful home she helped Clearwater Marine Aquarium build for her and all non-releasable animals.
In remembrance of Winter’s 16 years of life, admission to CMA will be reduced to $16.00 on Saturday, November 20 and Sunday, November 21. A portion of all funds go towards the care of our rescued and resident animals as well as our mission to rescue, rehabilitate, and release marine life. There will be flower arrangements and visual tributes to Winter as well as increased guest interaction and a special presentation schedule – all focused on Winter’s life and legacy. Original footage of Winter’s rescue, her life and those she touched through her inspiring story will also be shown in the Dolphin Tale theatre throughout each day.
On Saturday evening, a private memorial will be held for all CMA community partners and elected officials. This event will be live-streamed on WintertheDolphin.com.
We look forward to welcoming Winter’s fans and followers and in celebrating the life of an amazing dolphin – one that will live on forever in our hearts. For those unable to attend in-person, we invite you to join us virtually at RememberingWinter.com
November 13, 2021
Yesterday morning, CMA veterinarian Dr. Shelly Marquardt and several veterinary medicine experts from around the country joined a team that conducted Winter’s necropsy, an animal autopsy. This is a crucial step in learning all we can about the health challenges Winter faced leading to her passing on Thursday night.
Preliminary results indicate the cause of Winter’s death was an intestinal torsion – essentially, Winter’s intestines had twisted deep in her intestine. While our team provided Winter the best care and treatment available, the location of the torsion made it impossible to reach through surgery. There was nothing more the team could have done to save her life.
Unfortunately, this is a condition that is found in stranded wild dolphins as well as any living being with intestines. We have found there is much to learn as a community about what causes this condition, and what experts found in yesterday’s necropsy means Winter will continue helping scientists and animal rescue teams worldwide better care for these amazing animals.
Because of Winter’s injury and the distortion it caused in her body, she was more prone to facing health complications since her rescue 16 years ago. Thanks to the dedication and care provided by the CMA staff, and advancements by partners like the Hanger Clinic who created her prosthetic tail, she beat the odds and inspired millions of people during her life. For this, we are forever grateful to her.
The Animal Care staff at CMA worked around the clock to care for Winter in recent days, providing love and support, as well as medical care, including treatment to control pain and keep her comfortable.
November 11, 2021
With heavy hearts, Clearwater Marine Aquarium announced tonight that Winter the Dolphin died at approximately 8 p.m. as animal care experts from around the country worked to treat her gastrointestinal abnormality. The CMA family is devastated.
During preparation for a procedure, the CMA Animal Care team observed that Winter’s behavior and vital signs were declining. The medical team tried several life-saving efforts, but she died being held by her caregivers.
“While we are heartbroken by Winter’s death, we are comforted knowing that our team did everything possible to give her the best chance at survival. We worked with specialists and marine mammal experts from around the country to provide her with the best care available. Our staff worked around the clock during this challenging time,” said Veterinarian Dr. Shelly Marquardt, DVM, CVA. “I’m honored to work alongside such dedicated and talented professionals who gave their all for Winter.”
The CMA team expresses our deepest gratitude to the thousands of people from around the world who sent caring messages for Winter. She truly inspired hope and was loved by millions of people worldwide.
Winter, we love you.
CMA will be closed on Friday to provide time for our staff to grieve. A grief counselor will be made available to the team.
Plans for a memorial for Winter, honoring the positive impact she made on the world, will be announced soon.
You can share your memories online at RememberingWinter.com.
November 10, 2021
UPDATE ON WINTER:
Earlier this week we shared that initial tests indicated Winter the Dolphin was likely fighting a gastrointestinal infection. Today, test results show that despite treatment her intestinal abnormalities have intensified, making Winter’s condition critical.
The dedicated CMA animal care experts are consulting with top animal care and veterinary specialists in the country and exploring all possible options to save Winter’s life.
As a marine life hospital, CMA’s priority is providing the best possible care to all rescued and resident animals. To focus that vital care for Winter and to create the best possible environment for her medical team, Clearwater Marine Aquarium will temporarily close to the public Friday, November 12, with plans to reopen at 10 a.m. on Saturday, November 13.
On behalf of the CMA staff and Winter’s care team, we thank everyone for the incredible outpour of love and support you have shown Winter since her rescue in 2005 and especially these last few days. Many are inspired by her resiliency and this amazing response reminds us of how deeply she has affected millions, including so many on their own health journey.
We will share updates as they become available. Thank you for your care and consideration during this time.
November 7, 2021
Last Monday evening, members of our Animal Care team noticed Winter the Dolphin wasn’t acting like her normal self. Because of the strong bond staff members have with Winter, they quickly noticed she was not interested in eating and began work to understand why.
While her care team is still running tests, initial bloodwork suggests Winter may be fighting a gastrointestinal infection.
Our dedicated staff will continue to keep a close watch on her through this healing process and provide her with the highest quality of care.
The Clearwater Marine Aquarium team has cared for Winter since her rescue after becoming entangled in a crab trap line and losing her tail in 2005.
During Winter’s time living at Clearwater Marine Aquarium, she’s thrived, and her story of survival has inspired millions of people around the world. She continues to show a strong, determined, and fighting spirit, and her resiliency continues to inspire us all.
As we hope for her quick recovery, our team is monitoring Winter around the clock. We will keep the public informed of any change in her condition.
Kelsy Long, Director of Media Relations