Warner Bros. Pictures and Alcon Entertainment’s Dolphin Tale 2 continues the story of the brave dolphin Winter, whose miraculous rescue and rehabilitation—thanks to the invention of a groundbreaking prosthetic tail—made her a symbol of perseverance to people around the world and inspired the 2011 family hit movie Dolphin Tale.
The film reunites the entire main cast, led by Harry Connick, Jr., Ashley Judd, Nathan Gamble, Kris Kristofferson, Cozi Zuehlsdorff, Austin Stowell, Austin Highsmith and Oscar winner Morgan Freeman (Million Dollar Baby). The remarkable dolphin Winter returns as herself. Charles Martin Smith, who directed Dolphin Tale, wrote and directed the sequel.
Several years have passed since young Sawyer Nelson (Gamble) and the dedicated team at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium (CMA), headed by Dr. Clay Haskett (Connick, Jr.), rescued Winter, a young dolphin who lost her tail after being entangled in a crab trap. With the help of Dr. Cameron McCarthy (Freeman), who developed a unique prosthetic tail for Winter, they saved her life against all odds. In turn, she helped save the Aquarium—as people came from far and wide to see the courageous dolphin firsthand, enabling CMA to greatly expand their mission to “rescue, rehabilitate and, when possible, release” injured animals.
Yet their fight is not over. Winter’s surrogate mother, the elderly dolphin Panama, passes away, leaving Winter alone and grieving, unwilling to engage with anyone, even her best friend, Sawyer. However, the loss of Panama may have even greater repercussions for CMA. The USDA warns Clay they will have to move Winter from the Aquarium because regulations require these social creatures to be paired. If they don’t find a female companion for her—one that she accepts—CMA will lose their beloved Winter.
But as time runs out, there may still be Hope…
Reprising their roles, Kristofferson plays Clay’s father, Reed; Zuehlsdorff is Clay’s teenage daughter, Hazel; Judd returns as Sawyer’s mom, Lorraine; Stowell plays Sawyer’s cousin, Kyle; and Highsmith is Winter’s lead trainer, Phoebe. Champion surfer Bethany Hamilton, who herself has been an example of courage, also appears in the film.
Inspired by true events, Dolphin Tale 2 was filmed at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, the non-profit rescue and rehabilitation facility that Winter calls home. It is now also home to Hope, the baby dolphin that was rescued the very night of the first film’s wrap party. As the cast, filmmakers, crew and CMA staff celebrated the completion of photography on Dolphin Tale, CMA received word of a baby dolphin that had been rescued and was on its way to the facility, though she was so young there were fears she would not survive the trip. When the van carrying the newly named Hope arrived at CMA, several members of the cast and filmmaking team were on hand to witness her being hand carried to the pool—a scene closely re-created in the film. Hope not only survived but, thanks to the efforts of the CMA team, thrived. Like Winter, Hope can never be released to the wild, as she was too young to have learned the life skills necessary for survival. Instead, the two dolphins have formed their own small “pod” and become part of the family at CMA, where they inspire visitors from all over the globe.