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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.






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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...

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