Beloved ‘Dolphin Tale’ Star Winter the Dolphin Dies at Aquarium

by Leanne Stahulak

Winter the dolphin, who starred in the inspirational film “Dolphin Tale,” died on Thursday from an illness. She was 16 years old and passed away from a gastrointestinal infection.

The Clearwater Marine Aquarium, Winter’s home, broke the news late last night on their website. They were prepping her for a procedure when they noticed that the dolphin’s “behavior and vital signs were declining.” Despite several nationwide animal care experts trying to save her, Winter sadly died in the arms of her caretakers around 8 p.m.

“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,” said Dr. Shelly Marquardt in a statement earlier. “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. I’m honored to work alongside such dedicated and talented professionals who gave their all for Winter.”

Many people may recognize Winter from her earlier role in the 2011 film “Dolphin Tale.” She starred alongside Harry Connick Jr., Ashley Judd, and Morgan Freeman, according to Deadline. Winter also starred in the 2014 sequel, “Dolphin Tale 2.”

In real life, Winter lost her tail in 2005 to a crab trap line. The CMA rescued her and gave her a prosthetic tail to learn how to swim with. The “Dolphin Tale” films are based on Winter’s story and star the dolphin herself.

“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,” the aquarium said in a statement on Thursday. “Winter, we love you.”

‘Dolphin Tale’ Star Harry Connick Jr. Mourns the Loss of Winter the Dolphin

After hearing the news about Winter the dolphin’s death, “Dolphin Tale” star Harry Connick Jr. shared his grief on social media. He posted a touching video to Instagram earlier today dedicated to Winter.

“I was so lucky to be able to be in both ‘Dolphin Tale’ movies and get a chance to spend some time with this amazing creature, who really did change the world,” Connick said.

“I’m so sorry for all the people at Clearwater Marine Aquarium. And everybody who got a chance to be touched by this magical animal,” he continued. “And I was one of those people. Winter should be in my prayers tonight.”

The “Dolphin Tale” star concluded, “I know all y’all that got a chance to see ‘Dolphin Tale’ and maybe got lucky enough to see Winter in person at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium will be thinking about her tonight. She’s an amazing little animal, and she’s in a better place now.”