Visiting the set of the upcoming movie Dolphin Tale in the marine hospital in Clearwater, Florida, HFPA members were introduced to the star and the protagonist of the movie, Winter, the Dolphin whose tail had to be amputated and be replaced with a prosthetic one after sustaining an incurable injury in 2007.
Dolphins swim by fluttering their tails vertically, up and down, but after losing her tail, Winter started to swim by wiggling her body horizontally in order to propel herself forward, which resulted in damaging her spine. To save her from death, her trainers decided to explore the idea of a prosthetic tail, which had not been done or even contemplated before.
“There were many challenges in designing a new tail for Winter,” explains the hospital’s director, David Yates. “The biggest challenge was keeping the tail on without hurting her.”
The tail was designed by Dr. McCarthy (played by Oscar-winner Morgan Freeman), who used his experience in building human prosthetic limbs to create a socket made of soft gel that fits firmly over the base of the amputated tail and then strap the artificial tail around it.
“The other challenge was to make her swim with a tail after she had been swimming sideways in over a year and half,” Yates adds.
Initially, Winter had rejected the new tail, but in a few months she was humming. “She loved it,” Yates beams.
|15th September 2011,|