Buy Online Freecall 1300-547-737
Shopping cart is empty.
Vale Bucky

Vale Bucky

Posted: 25-Jul-2019

Beloved Coffs Harbour icon, Bucky the dolphin has sadly passed away overnight. 


Bucky was Dolphin Marine Conservation Park’s (DMCP) oldest and much-loved resident. He was rescued from the Nambucca River over 45 years ago as an infant dolphin, extremely sunburnt and dehydrated. Bucky’s mother Sandy was with him but also severely injured, so both were brought back to the park for rehabilitation. Ultimately, neither dolphin was deemed releasable and so made their home at the Park.


In 2008 carers noticed an ulcer in the back of Bucky's mouth. When it did not respond to treatment, biopsies were collected from the abscess, and the DMCP team were devastated when the lesion was diagnosed as cancerous. Bucky underwent surgery which was very successful. The cancer went into remission with no evidence that it had spread outside his mouth.


Five years later Bucky's carers identified new suspicious growths inside his mouth which led to Bucky’s brief television career. He appeared on the TV show "Bondi Vet", and the nodules in his mouth were examined by celebrity vet, Dr Chris Brown. Fortunately, the results of this examination concluded that the growths were not cancerous.


Bucky retired from presentations at DMCP many years ago but had still been participating in some of the education programs for his own enjoyment and enrichment. He has spent his days over recent years happily socialising with his family group, playing with his favourite toys, joining in play and learning sessions with the trainers. Bucky loved to play with basketballs and yoga balls, swim with his long-time pal ‘Calamity’ and interact with his trainers.


Recently Bucky’s cancer returned and invaded his lymphatic system. On 30th March Bucky underwent surgery to remove a cancerous mass, which had formed on his shoulder. To ensure that Bucky was given the greatest possible chance of a positive outcome world leading cetacean anesthetist – Dr James Bailey – was flown across from the USA with nationally renowned surgical oncologist – Dr Maureen Thompson from Brisbane carrying out the operation. The surgery was an enormous success, having been the first time in the world that a dolphin of Bucky’s age had been anesthetised, operated on with such invasive surgery and successfully brought back out of the anesthetic.



Despite Bucky’s brave and phenomenal recovery following this major operation and the many health battles he has had to endure he passed away surrounded by his family during the evening. Bucky was 49 years’ old which is impressive considering most dolphins only live to about 30 years of age in the wild. He was a much loved ambassador for conservation and the father of two of the other dolphins at the park, Zipper and Jet.


“Bucky will be greatly missed by everyone at DMCP and especially his trainers, many of whom have cared for him for over 10 years with one – Greg Pickering – for his entire time at the park since his rescue. Everyone involved enjoyed an extraordinary connection with this amazing animal,” said Managing Director, Terry Goodall.






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..

Jody Hunt

I have been saying for years that I have wanted to visit Coffs Harbour since learning about Dolphin Marine Conservation Park. We finally were able to visit last Thursday and it was an even greater experience than I could have ever imagined or hoped for. From the amazing staff that made us feel so welcome, and the obvious passion and care for their animals and allowing such a hands on experienc..

Chrisavalanti manolakis

I got the opprotunity to swim with amazing jett last year. He was all over me and little did I know I was actually pregnant! One year later we are bringing our beautiful boy to come visit my good old friend jett in the next fortnight. Can't wait to reunite with all the gang. Such an amazing park and outrun sea world any day Thank you, we look forward to welcoming you all back here ag..

Sumit Thapa

Our 2 kids under 3 and 5 had great fun watching the dolphins, penguins, turtles and the seal. We arrived around 1.30 as we travelled all the way from Sydney and missed all the big shows but kids still looked so excited just watching the animals play free. Staff were very lovely and caring and they seemed to have real love and passion towards what they do which was great to see. We hope to retu..

Leah Cunningham

I would like to thank the staff at the park. My son swam with the dolphins today and had the most wonderful experience. Something he will never forget made his dreams come true. Thank you Leah that is so great to hear :)..

Emma Baker

My son and I came to visit the park in January, it was my sons second visit to the park we came in 2012 when he was 1, the smile on my son’s face during the show and seeing all the animals was well worth the 5 hour drive to get there, while sitting in the grandstand watching the show I heard about the in the water hugs with the seal so I thought to myself why not and I paid for my 8 years old ..

Rob Brigden

My wife and I are on a two week working holiday in Coffs Harbour and we are trying to see some of Coffs while we are here. Yesterday we walked from our accommodation to the Jetty Markets and were a little disappointed. Walking back to our resort, we passed the dolphins conservation park. My wife said "Would you like to go and have a look?" I didn't immediately know what the facility was. I was..

Shana Ghadially

Pet porpoise pool holds a special memory for our family. Our 6 year old daughter was thrilled as she had the experience of brushing the dolphin's teeth. And our four month old couldn't have dreamt in his wildest dreams that he was being kissed by a seal! we don't need the pics to remind us of those memories ... they are etched in our minds. It was a brilliant holiday we had at Coffs Harbour , ..

Stay Updated

Receive the latest news, promotions and events