Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Winter the dolphin gets a new tail

As she glides through the water, Winter the dolphin appears to be completely normal.
But she is the world's first sea creature after being fitted with an artificial tail.
Only closer inspection reveals the dolphin's rear end is entirely prosthetic.

Winter, an Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin, lost her own tail after being caught in a harsh crab trap. She was found at just two-months old in 2006, floating in distress off the coast of Florida. Rescuers rushed her to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, in Clearwater, Florida, where they battled to save her life.
David Yates, the director, said: "For the first few days, we really didn't think she'd live at all. She had 24-hour around-the-clock care by our veterinary staff, our animal care staff, and our volunteers. We literally watched her every second of the day."

Winter survived, but she lost her tail and was left with just a stump. "She had to learn how to swim without a tail, which no dolphin has ever done in captivity," said Mr Yates. "We didn't know if she could do that."Winter tried to master the art – but couldn't swish up and down like a normal dolphin, and could only waggle from side to side.
Vets were worried this unusual swimming might alter the long-term health of her spine.
So, they decided to make an artificial tail for Winter.
Kevin Carroll, one of the world's leading prosthetists, offered his services.
Besides his work with people, he has designed prosthetics for dogs, an ostrich, and even a duck

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