Winter's Daughter
Shelley, Age 13, Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia

About three years after Sawyer had befriended a dolphin named “Winter,” she had been caught in a crab trap, and he arranged for a prosthetic tail to be made for her when her tail had to be amputated. Because of that, he had been granted a membership at the aquarium, which meant he’d get newsletters once a month, telling him any interesting things that had happened at the aquarium.

One day he received one that was exceptionally thrilling. It was one that told him Winter was pregnant. Sawyer was thrilled and told his mother about it, who said “Well, Sawyer, I’ll certainly arrange some way of getting you to Clearwater Marine Aquarium to see her new baby. When are they expecting the baby to be born?”

“Didn't say, Mum,” replied Sawyer, “but I can look up the gestation period of bottle-nosed dolphins, and that should give us a rough idea of when we should book our transfers and hotel rooms.”

Sawyer went to the computer and typed, “What is the gestation period of bottle-nosed dolphins?” into the search engine. He soon came to a reliable-looking website that told him that the gestation period was twelve months. He went back and told his mother and she initially said, “Twelve months, huh. No real rush to book anything, then." But then a thought struck her. The thought was, “On the other hand, lots of other people will probably have heard about Winter being pregnant, and I bet most of them have booked tickets. I’d hate for everything to be booked up and for us not to be able to go.” And the next day, she booked a bus and a hotel room for them and they soon came back confirmed. As soon as they did, she went and told Sawyer, and he was thrilled.

Finally the big day arrived, and they were at the aquarium, but Winter’s keeper did not look as pleased as they expected. When Sawyer asked what was wrong, he said, “Unfortunately, Winter’s baby was born without a tail. We do not know how that could have happened. I mean, her mother lost her tail, but that wouldn't affect the baby.” Sawyer and his mother were very concerned when they heard that, but they still wanted to see the baby. Soon Sawyer had the solution, or at least he thought he did. As soon as they went back to the hotel, he rang Dr. McCarthy. When he answered, Sawyer said, “Oh, thank God I managed to get hold of you. Listen, you know that dolphin called Winter who you made the prosthetic tail for three years ago?

“Oh, yes,” said Dr. McCarthy.

“Well,” continued Sawyer “she’s had a baby now.”

“Oh, lovely,” the doctor said, and Sawyer said, “Well, wait. The baby’s been born without a tail, and she really needs your help.” “I’ll be up first thing tomorrow,” he said, and the next day he and Sawyer were at the dolphin tank. They discussed the situation and decided that the same sort of tail that Winter wore would be the best for the baby. That evening, however, both Dr. McCarthy and Sawyer received the news that the company that used to make “Wintersgel” no longer made it, and they’d have to use a substitute. They agreed and soon the new tail was ready, but both the doctor and Sawyer had fears that Winter’s baby would reject the tail, and as soon as the doctor slipped it on, their fears came true. The baby squealed loudly, swam frantically round the tank and finally banged the tail on the floor of the tank, totally destroying it. They contacted the manufacturer, who soon made another tail with a slightly different formula for the “sock,” but they got the same result. They tried again and again and the baby kept rejecting the tail. It was getting really frustrating for them, and Sawyer wondered again and again what on earth the baby could possibly have against the tail.

Then one evening, he got a possible answer from the news. There was a report that a young girl had been arrested for shoplifting and when the police put handcuffs on her, the lady started screeching like a cat that had fallen into acid and Sawyer could make out the words, “Get those handcuffs off me! They hurt too much! Get those bloody handcuffs off me!” and when the lady’s mother was interviewed she said that she was sure that her daughter had not been shoplifting and that her daughter couldn't stand any pressure at all on her wrists; she couldn't even wear a watch, because it was excruciatingly painful, and Sawyer thought to himself, “Maybe Winter’s baby is the same. The little bit of pressure that the “sock” is exerting might be too much for the baby.”

The next day, on the way to the aquarium, he bought a really cheap piece of ribbon from one of the stores on the way. He told himself “Well, Winter, her baby and the staff are going to hate me for what I’m going to do, but experimenting is the only way to solve the problem.” He marched straight up to Winter’s tank, pulled the piece of ribbon out of his pocket and tied it round the stump of the baby’s tail. Instantly, she squealed as though someone was holding a red-hot poker to her and began swimming round the tank as though she was possessed. Sawyer dived in, grabbed her and untied the ribbon and the baby stopped. “A-ha,” thought Sawyer to himself, “just wait till I tell the doctor.” The doctor came up just then with a rubber band and Sawyer knew that both he and the doctor had been watching the same segment of news. He said, “I can tell you right now it wasn't any of the ingredients in the ‘sock’ that the baby had it in for; it was the light pressure that the ‘sock’ was exerting that was the trouble.”
The doctor said, “Well, in that case, the only solution is to graft a tail onto her, and the trouble with that is we need to find a dolphin that has died, but whose tail is still usable.” That problem was solved within a few minutes. They soon saw a baby dolphin with horrific injuries being wheeled to the operating room for urgent surgery, but for all Dr. Haskett’s efforts, the baby died, and while Sawyer was very upset about that, he knew that a window of opportunity had opened and everyone agreed. The baby was soon down for surgery, which went superlatively well. The baby would have to be in a very sterile environment because of the immuno-suppressive drugs that the baby would require, and nobody apart from a very special keeper would be allowed to come in contact with her, but after about three months the baby was taken off the drugs and was able to be reunited with her mother.

Sawyer was delighted, and Dr. Haskett said, “Well, I owe this success to you. Without you, this baby would probably have died, but now the baby’s problems have been solved. I have decided you should have the honour of naming the baby. The name gave him no pause for thought. He had heard of the movie “Mrs. Winterbourne” and thought the name “Winterbourne” would be the perfect name. “Let’s call her “Winterbourne,” he said, and Dr Haskett laughed and nodded. He thought it was a good name, too. After all, the baby was born of “Winter.” Soon Winterbourne became almost as famous as her mother.

                                                         The End

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