Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Winter the Dolphin {We Knew Her Before She Was Famous}

By now I am sure you have heard of Winter the Dolphin.

The star of "A Dolphin Tale" know, the newly released movie starring Harry Connick Jr? Too bad he's such a homely and unattractive man....

::crickets chirp::

Where was I?

Oh yeah...Winter.

Turns out we knew her before she was famous.

In July 2010 the kids and I made a road trip to Tampa to visit grandma.

As a homeschooling family, seeing Winter was on our list of things we must do while there.

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We were lucky enough to walk up right when they were moving her from a private tank in the back, into the tank where the public views her. It was beautiful to watch.

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Then she did what she does best.

She put on a show for us.

A "look at me defying all odds, doing exactly what no one thought a dolphin without a tail could do" kind of show.

The trust between this dolphin and her trainer was almost palpable.

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After the show, a staff member happened to single out my kids and ask them if they would like to come into the "staff only" area {at Winter's private tank} and hold Winter's tail.

Would they ever?!?!?!

Literally we were the only ones there at that time afforded the opportunity.

It was super special.

While we were talking one on one with the staff, we asked them about the strange props we had see all around Winter's tank.

Notice the lighting rig behind my kids and the guy standing to the right?

There was a broom strapped to rope hanging horizontally over the water, a large plastic gasoline can painted black, a large board reflecting light, and about 6-8 people that were just standing in their places holding these objects around the edge of her private tank.

That was when they informed us that starting September 2010, filming would begin on a Major Motion Picture starring Winter herself.

Dolphins are so intuitive, and sensitive to their surroundings, that they had to condition Winter to the new people and objects that would be entering her world.

I was touched to find out that the people we saw standing holding these strange objects were volunteers that would spend 4-6 hours per day, for the next 3 months, preparing Miss Winter for her new life as a Hollywood star.

Seems Winter had stolen the hearts and the devotion of the folks in the Tampa/Clearwater area.

Next? The country.

Dolphin Tale

The kids and I went to see this movie last night and it did not disappoint.

No language, no violence, no sexual content.

Just a good family movie.

Heck, they didn't even try to hook up Harry Connick and Ashley Judd. {My 15 year old thought for sure they would}

All throughout the movie, my kids kept looking over at me saying things like, "Mom, we stood right there!"...or, "That's where we parked."...and, "That's her tail that we held!"

It was a very neat experience.

I give "A Dolphin Tale" two thumbs way up.

Inspirational, funny at times, and the kind of movie that just makes you feel good.

I also give Clearwater Marine Aquarium two thumbs waaaaay up. A wonderful place to visit if you are anywhere within the Tampa area. You will not want to miss seeing Winter.

If you would like to see Winter right now, see a behind the scenes preview of the movie, or maybe even help support the efforts of the Clearwater Marine Aquarium {A rescue, rehab, release facility} you can click here.

The live webcam button is at the top of the page.

Winter shares an enclosure with a dolphin named Panama. You may see her in the video as well.

And just a side note...she only wears her prosthetic tail a few hours a day so she may or may not have it on.

And homeschoolers, you can also click here for a curriculum that Scholastic has put together to go along with Winter's story.

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Linking up at the The Homeschool Post

"My every mortal breath, is Grace and nothing less"

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