Currents of Compassion

Current Systems’ Riverflow pump has been programmed to replicate an ocean current, which helps Winter (pictured) use her prosthetic tail in a natural-feeling environment.
Current Systems’ Riverflow pump has been programmed to replicate an ocean current, which helps Winter (pictured) use her prosthetic tail in a natural-feeling environment.

The Clearwater Marine Aquarium, a marine-mammal rescue center located Clearwater, Fla., is widely revered for providing critical care to sick and injured ocean animals. The facility has also enjoyed widespread notoriety as home for two of the most famous members of the animal kingdom: Winter and Hope, a pair of bottlenose dolphins. When she was just a few months old, Winter was found tangled in a crab trap with extensive injuries and was taken to CMA for treatment. While her tail had to be amputated as a result, scientists were able to fit her with a prosthetic tail. Winter's story was dramatized for the screen in the 2011 film "Dolphin Tale," while Hope was the subject of the 2014 sequel. Together, they've won the hearts of devoted fans around the world.

For the past two years, Winter and Hope have been enjoying the benefits of a specialized pool and spa technology that has become popular in human habitats. Current Systems (Ventura, Calif.), manufacturer of the Riverflow pump, has teamed with CMA staff to develop and fine-tune its system to furnish Winter and Hope's habitat with an adjustable current that helps them stay active, healthy and happy.

"Our Riverflow pump was the perfect fit for Clearwater Marine Aquarium," explains Phil de Tournillon, vice president of Current Systems. "Not only do we have the right system for the application, but we also wanted to align ourselves with an organization that does such important and inspiring work."

Inspired by the stories of these two remarkable mammals as well as the dedicated people who worked to save them, Current Systems teamed up with CMA to replicate an ocean current, a key component in creating a healthy marine environment.

"The Riverflow system allows [Winter] to swim longer distances with her tail on without having to make turns. It allows her to swim as if she was able to be back in the ocean," says Kelly Martin, Director of marine mammals at CMA.

While the existing equipment has performed beautifully, Current Systems is developing a new system that will provide a more vigorous flow that is better suited for both the dolphins and their large habitat.

"The system has performed beyond expectations," explains Davidson. "But while our human users can't swim 25 miles per hours, bottlenose dolphins do. We're developing a system that will be an even better fit. Much like the people who care for these animals on a daily basis, we're also dedicated to perfecting this very special form of 'customer service.'"

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