7:56 PM PT -- The aquarium says Winter passed away around 8 PM as a veterinarian was prepping her for what they hoped would be a lifesaving surgery.
Clearwater Marine Aquarium said a team of 15 vets and technicians were going to attempt to treat the gastrointestinal blockage, but they noticed vital signs declining. We're told a necropsy will be done to determine the cause of death, but at this point, they believe it was heart failure.
Winter was 16-years-old.
Winter, the dolphin that grabbed global attention after being the focus of the movie "Dolphin Tale" is fighting for her life after developing a serious infection.
Winter, who lost her tail in 2005 at just 2 months old when it became entangled in a crab trap, had been cared for at The Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Florida for her entire life. Her caretakers announced that while they treated her for what they thought was a gastrointestinal infection, her condition got worse this week ... and she's now in critical condition.
The aquarium announced they'll be closed until at least Saturday "to create the best possible environment for her medical team."
A statement from the Clearwater aquarium team says, "We thank everyone for the incredible outpouring of love and support you have shown Winter since her rescue in 2005 and especially these last few days.”
They continue, “Many are inspired by her resiliency and this amazing response reminds us of how deeply she has affected millions, including so many on their own health journey.”