Saturday, September 13, 2008

Girl and dolphin bond together

A 9-year-old girl will never forget a trip to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium when she met Winter, a dolphin who lost her tail after being injured in a crab trap line.

Atrina Simpkins was born with a birth defect and is missing her right leg.

"What I love about Winter is she has the same thing as me," she said. "And I never saw an animal or a dolphin like that ever, the same as me."

Simpkins' meeting with Winter helped her realize she wasn't alone.

"Some people would try to ignore me," she said. "Some people would look at me different ways but when I came here and I saw the dolphin and we got in contact and I found out that the dolphin actually likes me as my friend."

When Simpkins needed a new prosthetic leg, the aquarium put her in contact a company developing a cutting-edge prosthetic tail for the dolphin.

"In the beginning, human prosthetics benefited Winter and now all the technology that's gone into Winter's prosthetics is now benefiting humans," said dolphin trainer Abby Stone.

Katrina lives in Indiana, but keeps in touch with aquarium staff for updates on her best friend.

"You can see it in their eyes. It means a lot," Stone said. "You can see there is a relationship there and a connection there that goes far beyond what we understand."

Quick "Facts about Dolphins"