WATCH: Winter the Dolphin Returns to the Sea

CLEARWATER -- The people who cared for Winter the Dolphin for most of her sixteen years of life said farewell to her, by returning her to the water.

Clearwater Marine Aquarium, with the help of the U.S. Coast Guard, brought Winter's ashes out into the Gulf of Mexico Thursday morning. The ashes were dropped into the water with a biodegradable urn.

The ceremony included a flyover by a Coast Guard C-130 and the reading of a poem. Staffers tossed flower petals into the Gulf and blew bubbles.

Winter was freed from a crab trap at two months old, losing her tail. The aquarium fitted her with a prosthetic and she learned to swim again, although her injury made her unable to survive in the wild. She became a permanent resident and her story inspired the DolphinTale movies. It also brought tremendous economic impact to the region.

See video of the ceremony below:

Photo: CMA

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