CLEARWATER, Fla .– A Florida aquarium has created a legacy for its famous Winter the Dolphin after his recent death, including virtual reality encounters with the prosthetic tail star of the Dolphin Tale films.
The Clearwater Marine Aquarium announced Friday that Winter’s legacy will include a permanent memorial, a financial endowment, a special song and a plan to release the cremated ashes of the animal in the Gulf of Mexico.
Winter died on November 11 at the age of 16 from an inoperable bowel problem. She was rescued in December 2005 along the east coast of Florida after her tail got caught in a crab trap rope. The tail had to be amputated.
The uplifting story of his recovery using an unprecedented prosthetic tail was the subject of both Dolphin Tale films in 2011 and 2014, making the marine mammal a hero for people with disabilities and chronic diseases around the world. .
James “Buddy” Powell, president of the aquarium, said the virtual reality experience will allow people from January to interact with Winter even though she is gone. It was built on videos and photos taken of Winter throughout his life.
“We have the technology at our disposal where guests can virtually swim with Winter and experience her personality as if she were still alive,” said Powell.
The aquarium, a former water treatment plant that recently completed an $ 80 million renovation largely due to Winter’s fame, will have a permanent memorial that encourages people to bring cards, notes and memories of the dolphin. The renovation includes new 1.5 million gallons (5.6 million liters) habitat for dolphins.
The Winter’s Endowment will use the contributions for the investment to continue the work of the aquarium, which includes the rehabilitation of other sea creatures such as turtles and manatees, Powell said.
There is also a winter song called “In Our Hearts You’ll Be” with lyrics by Stephen Page and music by Rudiger. It’s now available on music streaming services, Powell said. A portion of the song’s proceeds go towards aquarium operations.
Finally, the aquarium plans to disperse Winter’s ashes in the adjacent Gulf of Mexico next month, Powell said.
“Returning Winter to his natural home is a poetic end to his 16-year journey and we couldn’t think of a better way to rest his mind,” said Powell.
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