Weekend Fun: The Prosthetic Dolphin Tail
Winter, a bottlenose dolphin, was discovered floating off the coast of Florida with only a stump instead of a tail. Apparently, she got her tail stuck in a crab trap when she was only two months old, and it severed, leaving her with not only a useless nubbin, which could not propel her successfully, but also in major distress.
Luckily for Winter, she was rescued and brought to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, where she recovered from her wound, but still couldn’t swim effectively. The vets then solicited the help of animal prosthetics wiz Kevin Carroll who has designed prosthetics for dogs, an ostrich, and even a duck. Carroll thought that he’d simply attach a prosthetic tail and that would be the end of it. Little did he know that it would take a year and a half of tweaking before he got the formula right.
The end result is a 30″ silicone and plastic tail that successfully moves in relation to a dolphin’s unique spine. The new tail has enhanced Winter’s life allowing her to thrive in her new environment, and making her one happy-go-lucky bottlenose.