September 15, 2011


Posted by at 1:57 am in Movies & TV | Permalink


This blog post is sponsored by Dolphin Tale.

The Dolphin Tale movie (rated PG) about the dolphin named Winter with a prosthetic tail, comes out in theaters on September 23. To prepare you for the movie, Abby Stone, Winter’s actual trainer from the Clearwater Marine Aquarium (CMA), has answered some of YOUR questions. Read on to find out more about Winter, the amazing dolphin with a fake tail, and what the life of a dolphin trainer is like.

Q: How did Winter feel about the tail and what was her reaction?

Abby: The prosthetic tail has been a positive experience for Winter and she continues to respond with energy and enthusiasm based on trust and the strength of our relationship. Winter certainly was, and continues to be, an active participant in the training process, helping us determine how and when to advance to the next step. And of course, our approach to training is always fun, motivating Winter to try new things. We were definitely encouraged by Winter’s reaction of curiosity to the various stages as well as her eagerness to test her new tail without the aid of her trainers.DolphinsTale_600w

Q: Is Winter the only animal with a prosthetic, or is it more common now for injured animals to be cured like this?
Abby: Winter is the only dolphin in the world to have a prosthetic that involves the entire tail as well as the joint that connects to the peduncle [the narrow part of the tail that attaches to the fin]. There are a variety of animals that have prosthetic devices to assist with the quality of life – including horses, elephants, turtles, kangaroos, and birds!

Q: Can Winter have babies?
Abby: Physically, Winter has the proper internal anatomy to have a calf although at this point, she is still too young. Because Winter does not have a tail, it would have to be discussed with our veterinarian.

Q: Does Winter have any enemies at the aquarium?
Abby: Winter is provided with a very safe and loving home at CMA free of any natural predators.

Q: How do you train dolphins to do tricks?
Abby: We teach our animals to do behaviors that come naturally to them in a very slow process using positive reinforcement. We ask the animals to do bits and pieces of a behavior until the animal has the understanding to put all of the pieces together! This process can take a few training sessions, months, or years to train to its entirety!

Q: When will Winter be introduced to Hope? [Hope is the latest rescued dolphin living at CMA. She was found orphaned last December when she was only 3 months old!]
Abby: Our plan is to introduce the two later this year. We are looking at introductions around October or November.

Dolphintale_600w Q: Is it true that dolphins can recognize themselves in mirrors?
Abby: There is plenty of research regarding this theory. “Nicholas,” one of CMA’s resident dolphins, had an opportunity to participate in a self-recognition study that had encouraging results, suggesting that dolphins do in fact have this ability. The extent of dolphin self-awareness remains to be explored!

Q: Why did you decide to become a trainer?
Abby: I’ve established good relationships with the dolphins and I feel very comfortable in the water with them. I appreciate dolphins for their intelligence and ability to express a lot of emotion. Each dolphin is truly an individual with their own “dolphinality” that comes from their own unique experiences and perspectives. Trainers have an incredible opportunity to establish a bond with these amazing animals and this is a truly beautiful experience.

Q: How did you get your job as a dolphin trainer?
Abby: I visited CMA as a kid and was convinced that I would one day work there. I was drawn to CMA’s mission of rescue and release. While in high school, I was afforded my first internship and continued on through college. I received a degree in psychology and was offered a full-time job upon graduation in 2002.

Q: What is a typical day at the aquarium like for you?
Abby: In a typical day I spend several hours interacting with our animals one-on-one for exercise, fun, and stimulation. Outside of animal interactions, I assist with food preparation, exhibit maintenance, record keeping, and observations of the animals. Education and guest interaction is another big part of my day too. I enjoy the more intimate times building relationships with the animals as well as teaming up with the animals to make a fun show for the guests.

Q: What is the most important thing people can do to protect ocean animals?
Abby: Educate one another about the animals that live in the water environment. Through knowledge, people make better decisions about how to interact within the marine environment — decisions like recycling, using caution with equipment when fishing and boating, and calling the proper authorities for assistance if an animal may be in distress.

To learn more about Winter, watch the Dolphin Tale movie trailer.

Interview courtesy of Clearwater Marine Aquarium
Photos courtesy of Warner Bros.

  1. natalie

    Attention veyone! I a vote for a new movie eveyone vote if you want a Wings of Fire movie!!! I wan’t a wings of fire movie but the athour doesn’t have a movie making factory. So if you vote then a movie maker would say yes to the athour to make a wings of fire move!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Anonymous

    PLEASE Abby te me that Winter will not be bred. That would be the cruelest thing ever. She has enough to go through.

  3. Syd

    i LIke dolphins!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. anonymous

    they forgot someone i think maja kazazic she has the same kind of prosthetic only for her leg i read about her in readers digest

  5. A person who Wishes Not to be Named

    The story of Winter is amazing, and I was so excited when I heard they were making a movie about it. Honestly, I wasn’t thrilled by the movie. It was a bit slow-moving. However, Winter is an amazing dolphin and her trainers must be like magic to winter. I still like the movie, and again, Winter is amazing-she is my favorite dolphin and her story makes me cry every time i hear it!! :) I would love to be one of her trainers, helping her everyday. I wonder how old winter is?? Sorry, I know this has been long but Winter inspires me SOOOOOOOOO much!!

  6. Shadow Princess

    i watched the movie and i loved it! these r some cool things i didnt know about dolphins! i mean they can recognize their own REFLECTIONS! cool



  8. julia

    I want to see this movie SOOOOOOOOO bad you don’t even know I think it looks so good don’t you guy’s

  9. Katrina

    I want to see this movie so…… badly!Winter is so strong and cute.She makes me wanna cry because of her story.

  10. alicia39

    I a m in love with dolphins now they are make a movie of a dolphin it makes me happy. It is so sad there the dolphin lost it tail. It you there we need to clean the ocean animals in the sea are losing there homes. I want to help clean the ocean!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. chloe

    I can’t wait for the movie to come out im going to buy it. I want the book to i’m going to buy that to. I’m going to see it in the movies in a week.If the tickets were a thousand dollars i’d buy them I love ture stories

  12. cristina

    this book is really sad when i read it the first time i was about to crying its so sad….but i least reade it and it was fun and awsome to read it good has action and motion

  13. halley

    well to me the book and the moviesound very sad.I want to read the book and watch the movie it sounds pretty sad on tv any way

  14. birdband118

    I love the book so I’m looking forward to the time I go to Florida I will go to the aquarium

  15. TigerChasing7

    I really want to go see the movie. It looks sad and enjoying at the same time. I really wish that the dolphin at the end of the movie would talk.

  16. Miryam

    I like because it sad and happy at the same time I think it going to be the best true story ever mad in the world

  17. christina

    it is sad and very toughing if i was on i would feel bad for the people in the world it makes me want to cry

  18. chattyaqua25

    this is such a touching story. i hope people with disabilities are inspired to keep trying to do things regular kids do!

Comments are closed.