Buy Online Freecall 1300-547-737
Shopping cart is empty.
Saving Bellingen's Black Swan

Saving Bellingen's Black Swan

Posted: 02-Sep-2019


Earlier this week, a post on the Bellingen Facebook page raised the alert about a well-known resident being in trouble.

"This is the black swan that lives at the Bellingen river," Ellie May Harris wrote. "It has a fishing lure stuck in its mouth. I was hoping by posting that someone who knows how to help it could see it."

But attempts by people from WIRES and community volunteers to capture the swan were initially unsuccessful.

Although he can't fly due to a damaged left wing, he proved quite adroit at foiling rescuers by making an on-water escape.

This morning, all the right circumstances aligned for a successful operation.

The veterinary team from Dolphin Marine Conservation Park were on their way with nets and towels (and as a backup, a dart gun), the swan was resting in the park near Lavenders Bridge, and Ainslie Jenkins, who moved to Bellingen only a few weeks ago, was on guard keeping curious children at bay.

Veterinarian Dr Duan March and vet nurse Kieran Marshall had a brief chat with Ainslie, who has been one of the key people watching the bird's worsening condition and trying to organise help.

Then expertly herding the swan away from the river, the pair managed to snaffle him in a net after a short chase, which you can see in the video:

Pinning him with the towels, they used a pair of pliers to cut and remove the fishing tackle that he had probably inadvertently ingested.

"There was a hook with three barbs on it and one of the barbs had gone in on the underside of the tongue, through the tongue, and was embedded in the top of the tongue, " Duan said. "So we just pushed it the rest of the way through, nipped the barb off, then took it back out the other way.

"He had about 70cm of fishing line going down his throat too, but that came out with the swivel on the end."

Duan said there was no sign of infection and the swan seemed in reasonable condition, so he was happy to release it straight back to its preferred habitat.

He thought the broken wing probably occurred months ago, and the white colour on the swan's left side is visible because the wing would have dragged on the ground at first, removing the black part of the feathers.

Duan said the damaged feathers should gradually be replaced by proper plumage, which will give the swan back his waterproofing but not the ability to fly.

"He doesn't have full extension of that wing, so there's obviously been a fracture. But it's stable now, it's all fibrosed up. And he doesn't really need to fly to be around here - he can paddle on the river and feed."

They were thankful that most of the equipment they had brought - wetsuits, flippers, dart gun - weren't needed

"If he'd got in the water, we could have been chasing him around for hours," Duan said. "And the last thing we wanted was to do was dart him.

"The less you intervene, the better. The motto is, as little as possible, as much as necessary."

Duan urged people to make a point of collecting and disposing of any fishing debris found in or near waterways.

"Fishing line kills more of the wildlife that we see than plastics do," he said.

Upon being released, the swan headed straight for the river for a good long drink and some assiduous preening of his feathers.


Story Courtesy

Janene Carey from The Bellingen Courier Sun 

August 15, 2019 

Go back to read more news or you can go to our home page

Share your experience & win

Write a short story, upload a photo and you could WIN free entry to the park for you and your family.


I seen Bucky on sash on TV just now. What an amazing spirit. I feel blessed to be kissed by a trooper. Xoxo thank you Greg for sharing an amazing dolphin. I work with Fuji and I am glad we have a photo booth for people to keep the memories. Sometimes it is all you have. I love my kiss picture with Bucky. Thank you for your photo. Paige Sinclair CEO..

Katherine Thompson

This was my last visit to The pet Porpoise pool 35 years ago I was 7. we used to go every year when I was little and my grandmother getting kissed by a seal was the highlight of the day. I loved feeding the fairy penguins and my dream is to one day swim with the dolphins. I would love to win passes to marine magic to experience it again with my family. What great memories Katherine, we hope to w..


My mum and I just spend the whole weekend at Pet Porpoise Pool, we travel from Tweed to Coffs just to see Buck and Zip, we love them and can't get enough. Already driven down 3 times this year, and every time it's amazing. And we loved seeing all 5 dolphins in the pool, Bella's a sneaky little thing! We got drenched by her plenty of times hahaha. Great to hear you enjoyed yourselves - Paige S..

Michelle Coad

My family with two teenage children travelled from Port Macquarie to visit on 15th July because my daughters school camp to Coffs Harbour was cancelled and the one thing she wanted to see the most was the Dolphin Marine Conservation Park. We arrived late so didn’t see the dolphin show but absolutely loved seeing the seals, dolphins, penguins and other marine life with their daily goings on. We..


I was a junior marine ranger for the whole day and it was such an incredible experience, it is definitely worth coming and having a look at, and even if you are not a junior marine ranger it is still mind blowingly awesome, one of my favorite moments there was being able to see the dolphin show and also being able to pat the dolphins belly, my favorite dolphin is Calamity because she is really..


We visited last year and absolutely loved it! We had been to the Gold Coast and stopped over on the way home to Sydney. My 3 teenagers all agreed it was the best place we visited! We didn’t have time to swim with the dolphins but we are planning on returning this October and will allow more time. Thank you for a great experience Thank you Melissa, we hope to see you in October :)..

Rosalind Cocker

Hi my entry is not about having been there it is about wanting to see photos of my two beautiful grandchildren having fun there. We live in the U.K. our two gorgeous grandchildren EVELYN 7 and OLIVER 5 left our shores to a new life in Australia 5 years ago. It’s tough sending gifts as postal charges are so high. I saw this Park whilst looking for possible gifts I could book online for them. I ..

Kristy Atkins

This spectacular place is my absolute happy place and has been since the age of approx 10yrs of age . I moved to Coffs Harbour when I was 7. I met a dolphin for the first time and swam with them for the first time at the age of 10 and since then my passion has grown so much more . I am now 28 yrs old and living in Qld , my last memorable time was volunteering here at the park for 3+ months eve..

Jeremy Edwards

Hi, I would like to thank all the staff, that made my families day at the park on mothers day. It started with we were running late, after having to wait for a table at the cafe. I took my 2 year old to get a dolphin kiss, my wife had to go finish feeding our 2 month old. The staff at the kisses waited longer for my wife, this was much appreciated. after spending a couple of hours here we had ..

Tammy Hawkins

By far the best family friendly park for children and adults to learn and interact with marine life. The staff are friendly and helpful, willing to answer any questions. There is something for everyone at any age. Love this park. Hi Tammy, thank you for your feedback, we hope to see you again...

Stay Updated

Receive the latest news, promotions and events