A lonely and friendless boy finds and untangles a hurt dolphin that is caught in a crab trap. He becomes very attached to the dolphin when the tail must be taken off to save the dolphin's life. The boy believes the dolphin would be able to swim normally if it was given a prosthetic tail.
Fatherless smart rascal Sawyer Nelson's gloom already landed him in summer school, where he makes no effort when his closest kin, Florida home town's swim champion Kyle Connellan, leaves for Afghanistan to have the army pay for studies he can't afford. Ditching class at the beach, Sawyer spots a dolphin caught in a fishery net, helps untangle it against adult angler's bad advice, watches oceanography Dr. Clay Haskett's marine animals rescue team take charge, and follow them to the center, which is in dire financial trouble. Intruding, he meets and befriends Clay's imp daughter Hazel, who helps him discover the listless, dangerously tail-wounded dolphin somehow only reacts to the boy's presence and thus earns exemption from the outsider entry ban. Even Sawyer's nurse mother is impressed by his dedication to the smart dolphin, enough to take him off summer school despite teacher Doyle's doubts if he can pass just by essay. The tail must be amputated, and Kyle returns desperate with an amputated leg, but the broken cousin's veterans hospital prosthesis expert Dr. Cameron McCarthy offers hope to reboot both lives with custom-made artificial limbs. All seems lost when a hurricane wrecks the center's building, yet Sawyer and many friends come up with a daring plan.
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