Winter was just two months old when she got her tail caught in a crab trap—and rendered a useless stump—off the coast of Florida. After a long recuperation and a year and a half of hard labour by one of the veterinary world's top prosthetics wizards, Winter became the first dolphin to receive a functional but fake tail, qualifying her, according to the Daily Mail, as the "world's first bionic sea creature." Here's the story:
When they found Winter injured and flopping around in the ocean, rescuers took her to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, where she recovered, but couldn't get her swimmin' skillz back. Worse, her doctors thought she might throw out her back trying to swim with her stump.
Enter prosthetics master Kevin Carroll who, says the Daily Mail, "has designed prosthetics for dogs, an ostrich, and even [one lucky]duck." Carroll checked out the situation and thought coming up with the prosthetic would be easy. In the end, though, it took a year and a half to construct the 30" silicone and plastic tail, due to the fact that inside the prosthesis' slip, the spine of the dolphin has to have the freedom to move any which way. (By contrast, a leg bone typically stays put when a prosthesis is slipped over it.)
Check out more pics of the happy-looking Winter at the Daily Mail. [Daily Mail]