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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..


I took my two children years ago and loved it now I have a 5 year old who desperately want dolphin and seal kisses.. making plans to go again very soon Thank you Jenny, Good Luck :)..

Joy Cook

The last time I went it was called "Pet Porpoise Pool". Took the Grandkids last Saturday. We all had a fantastic time. Well done everyone, keep up the great work. The Cook, Welsh and Beverleys. Great thank you!!! ..

Sharnie henderson

We adore dolphin marine conservation park the staff are so caring and lovely and the food is great .. the dolphins are well cared for .. my partner and 5 year old cuddle a dolphin i was disappointed becoz i was pregnant at the time and couldnt ... definitely on the cards to come back asap ... we love the park sooooooo much .. its really a blessing to have them x Thank you Sharnie, yo..


Family had a great time Kids keep asking to go again. Lots of fun and heaps of information too Thank you Tracey..

Stacie frost

This places is amazing it’s a must see every time I go there Thank you Stacie - we look forward to seeing you again soon :)..

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..

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