Winter who starred in her own movie Dolphin Tail has been wearing a prosthetic tail. It is found out that her prosthetic is not as efficient as it should have been.
At the annual meeting of the American Physical Society Division of Fluid Dynamics, scientists reported that dolphin's body is streamlined for fast movement and a prosthetic tail can not match its real fluke
Winter, a bottlenose dolphin and currently living in Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Florida, lost her tail after being trapped and entangled in a crab line in 2005. She has also developed scoliosis along the way making it harder for her to maneuver her prosthetic tail.
A dolphin's stride is the distance covered by movement in one flap of a fluke relative to its body length. It is found that Winter has stride of just 0.35 while able-bodied dolphins have stride lengths of 0.80–0.90.
The scientists studied Winter's wake patterns and movement in a 3D model and a high fidelity Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) flow solver. They studied the kinematics and hydrodynamics and fluke deformation of Winter. They found out that when wearing her prosthetic tail, the downward stroke of her fluke propels her forward but the upward only generated a drag. Winter's decreased efficient might be caused by her lopsided, downward profile due to her scoliosis.
The researchers are hopeful that the dolphin prosthetics in the future can resolve this minute issue that can make vital stride improvements.
Prosthetic or not, Winter's fluke does not make her a little less happy. Her unique story and courage landed her a Hollywood job and inspired people.