A Winter’s tail, the sequelNovember 24th, 2011 by Chris Henry
In September, I wrote about Isabel Powell, 11, of Port Orchard, whose lower leg was amputated when she was 2 due to a vascular malformation.
Isabel has worn a prosthesis since then, and very little slows her down. She’s taken up karate and loves to swim.
Through the clinic in Bremerton where she has the prosthesis
checked, Isabel met Kevin Carroll the famous prosthetist who
designed an artificial tail for Winter the dolphin. Winter got
tangled in a fishing net and lost her own tail. She now lives at
the Clearwater Marine Aquarium
and stars as herself in a recently released
movie. That’s Winter on the right being nuzzled by a
Carroll used his connections to send Powell and her mother to Florida for an expense-paid visit to Winter and participation in Camp No Limits, for children with prostheses. Isabel, who got back from the trip last Sunday, felt a “connection” with the dolphin, said her mother. “She was really excited.”
Through the camp, Isabel took part in a range of activities including swimming at the beach, yoga and a high ropes course. But her favorite part of the trip was meeting Winter.
Through no particular plan, I, too, happened to be in Clearwater recently, since my sister lives there. We visited the aquarium, and my sister described how it has blossomed from this quiet and slightly run-down roadside attraction to a bustling tourist destination. We saw a large new wing under construction, thanks no doubt to whatever cut the aquarium gets from the movie, plus revenue from increased traffic and gift shop sales of Winter paraphrenalia.
The aquarium remains focused on its first mission, animal rescue, rehabilitation and (if possible) release. We saw sea turtles, otters and other dolphins who had been found injured and nursed back to health.
The newest addition is Hope, a baby dolphin who was found trying
to nurse on her dead mother. Staff members are working with Hope to
train and socialize her as they have Winter. Like Winter, Hope
would not survive in the wild and so will remain at the aquarium.
Here’s Hope during a training session.
Winter’s story of misfortune and inspiring adaptation, and the movie that resulted from it, have been a tremendous boon the the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, according to staff, who have quickly learned how to manage the crowds of curious visitors. Although is seemed a bit hectic, especially in the gift shop, I can testify that nobody is complaining about the extra work.