In the sequel to Dolphin Tale, Winter, the main character of the first movie, and audiences will meet Hope, a baby bottlenose dolphin who was orphaned when she was about two to three months old. She was still attempting to nurse from her mother, who died after she has been beached.
Hope’s journey to the aquarium started when a call came in to the Hubbs Sea World Research Institute (HSWRI) at about 9 a.m. on December 11, 2010. A dolphin calf was spotted by a local fisherman in the shallow waters of the Indian River Lagoon near her deceased mother. A rescue team rushed to the area and several hours later, the calf was found.
The baby dolphin weighed 58 pounds and was extremely dehydrated from a lack of milk. She had suffered from trauma and at the time of her rescue, her condition was fragile. Later, the HSWRI’s specialists decided the dolphin calf should be transferred to Clearwater Marine Aquarium (CMA) for rehabilitation.
Doctors, staff and volunteers worked round the clock to save the dehydrated dolphin calf, giving her special fish milkshakes every two hours to make sure she got the nutrition she would have normally received from her mother.
The CMA staff asked their fans and supporters to vote for their favorite name for the baby dolphin. She was named Hope.
In February, it was determined Hope would not survive in the wild. She was never taught to hunt or how to defend herself – things typically taught dolphins by their mothers. Even though people can teach Hope how to hunt, they couldn’t teach her how to identify predators, how to avoid boats or how to use sonar to navigate through murky waters.
Hope was introduced to a new friend at CMA – Winter. The two dolphins share similarities in their journey to the aquarium. Hope was rescued exactly five years and one day after Winter had been rescued, and she arrived at CMA at the day of the wrap party for the first Dolphin Tale movie.
As of 2014 Hope was doing great — she was taken off her formula and is now fully on fish diet. Hope’s story touched thousands and became an inspiration to many, such as Stacie Mosteller, a young woman struggling after a serious head injury.
“After the fall, I didn’t know what I was going to with my life. I spent a year at the Carl Perkins Rehabilitation and Vocational Center... and when that was over, I didn’t know what I was going to do,” Stacie told Kentucky newspaper KyForward.
After watching Dolphin Tale, Stacie and her parents decided to go to Florida and visit Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Stacie had a chance to interact with Hope. "I got to touch her [Hope] and when I did, a shock went through me like a lightning bolt. I realized at that moment that training dolphins was what I should be doing with my life."
Hope currently shares a tank with Winter and another dolphin named Panama.