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LIVE streams take us Australia - wide!

LIVE streams take us Australia - wide!

Posted: 04-May-2020

Despite the shutdown forced by COVID-19, local icon, Dolphin Marine Conservation Park (DMCP) quickly adapted using social media to share their animals and conservation messages with their community with surprising results.

Since 4th April, the park has shared 11 live streams and pre-recorded videos featuring the Marine Care Team and their animals on Facebook. Managing Director, Terry Goodall, said he has been blown away by the response.

“Nearly 200,000 people from across Australia have watched and interacted with our videos, including some people in America,” he said. “Our team is both shocked and delighted. Before the shutdown, we welcomed around 60,000 visitors to our park each year and now we have more than doubled our virtual visitors in just four weeks. The success has opened our eyes to a whole new communication medium with online audiences, expanded our community and raised our profile across Australia.”

However, keeping engaged with the community has not been easy. As a direct result of COVID-19, DMCP had to stand down 47 staff and reduce hours. But, despite receiving no visitor income, they have continued to care for the marine mammals and other animals in their care.

The dedicated Marine Care Team volunteered to make the videos. Tani Karaka, a Marine Carer at the park fortwo and a half years and video enthusiast has been a key driver of the program. “We’re at the Park every day caring for our animals, feeding them and looking after their welfare and making sure they receive vital enrichment so we thought why not share this with everyone while they’re at home in isolation and bring some joy to their day,” she said.

The live streams, in particular, have been very well supported averaging over 18,000 viewers for each event. The most popular live stream so far has been with Plugga, the three-flippered Green Sea Turtle who was rescued many years ago after being attacked by a predator. Gemma, Plugga’s carer, tried her best to encourage the 90kg turtle to swim closer to the camera but Plugga was more interested in sleeping which made amusing viewing for everyone. Despite being camera shy, Plugga’s live stream attracted nearly 25,000 viewers. Refusing to be discouraged, after the live stream the marine team uploaded a short video of Plugga swimming with Gemma which attracted a further 7,500 viewers.

Mr Goodall said that the team had invested a lot of time and effort into the live streams and videos, planning and writing the scripts, filming and editing and connecting to the Facebook and Instagram communities to attract viewers. “It has been a coordinated team approach which has exceeded all our expectations and we are now looking at how we can use new technology to continue to share our animals and conservation messages with a much wider audience into the future,” added Mr Goodall.


Mr. Goodall said that recent times have been incredibly stressful for everyone, especially in the past seven weeks.

"Before the global pandemic, we endured a long drought, horrific bushfires and then floods. Summer holidays and Easter are normally our busiest times. But this year people stayed home and visitors to the Coffs Coast, and our park, decreased by 40%. This has been an enormous challenge for our team. Along with many others on the mid-north coast, our organisation is suffering. Our financial capacity to continue the care for our beautiful animals is being tested."

This week's announcement by the Government to fund zoos, wildlife parks, sanctuaries and aquariums to the tune of $94.6M is a step welcomed by the marine park.

“Fortunately, we will receive some help from the Government JobKeeper program. And the Government funding announced yesterday is a lifeline for DMCP and many other animal care organisations.

It costs DMCP over $20,000 a week to care for our animals. This covers a skeleton marine care team, food, medical and utility charges. Our animals eat 63 kg of fish every day! What’s more, unlike organisations that care for land-based animals, DMCP incurs extra costs to maintain our saltwater quality. The water is monitored and tested several times a day.

We are still closed to visitors but our animal welfare continues. However, with no visitors, we’re not sure how much longer we could survive without Government assistance.”

However, the good news is that there is light at the end of the tunnel. With Government restrictions easing, domestic tourism is likely to re-open soon. Once borders re-open, people will be keen to get out of their homes and travel again.

Mr Goodall is optimistic. “The Coffs Coast is a stunning place to enjoy the fresh coastal air. We’re an outdoor park and with our new measures for physical distancing and upgraded hygiene regimes, we are hoping people will come and visit in person as soon as they are able. In the meantime, people can check in to our Facebook page and watch our library of videos and keep up to date with new content coming soon,” he said.

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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..


Every time I come to Coffs Harbour I visit marine magic! My family and I can’t get enough of these beautiful animals. Can’t wait to bring my partner this year so he can experience why I love it so much. Thank you Georgia, we look forward to welcoming you back to the park!..

Karen Purchase

I went up there nearly 2 yrs now after I turned 50. I had received money for my birthday and decided I wanted to do the “trainer for the day” experience. Was the best thing I have ever done in my life, seeing the behind the scene as well getting up and close to all the animals, my favourite parts were taking Elle for her walk around park twice, involved in show, and of course my experiences wi..

Bianca W

Thank you for our tour of your park. We have attended 3 times within the last 11years and have found this way was an amazing way to get up close with the animals and learn more about them. Our guide had lots of information to share and was very good at engaging with the children in the group. Highly recommend. We attended on the 14/7/20 Thank you for taking the time to share your lat..


My son had a brilliant dolphin swim with Trainer Stacey yesterday morning. Stacey was fun, informative and professional and zippy the dolphin was the perfect student loved loved our morning with these beautiful animals Thank you for your lovely feedback Jo, we will let Stacy & Zippy know!..

Diane Binks

Had a great visit to DMCP on Tuesday 30/6/2020, we had an escorted tour of the park with a very informative guide showing us around the park. This visit was very different to our normal visits but my granddaughter and I thoroughly enjoyed our visit! Thank you to all the wonderful people at the DMCP, you are all amazing! Hi Diane, Thank you for your lovely feedback, this is new to all..

Sharon Page

I took my two youngest grandchildren there in July 2018, they both loved it and still talk about it to this day, so we are planning to return with my oldest grandchild as well. They don't like the drive from Sydney, but they do love it there so it makes it worth the trip. Great place, educational and fun. Thank you Sharon, we look forward to seeing you again..

Sharon Fisher

My husband, daughter and my two grandchildren are driving up from Forster on the 26/06/20 to spend the weekend in Coffs Harbour for a getaway weekend.. My daughter , a single mum has just passed her paramedic course and is now in placement in Tea-gardens. She has been so flat out working 12hr shifts. So the reason to get them away for some quality time . I would love to surprise my grandbabies..

Jason lowe

The park is amazing I want to take my daughter their on November for her birthday she would love it so much Thank you Jason..

Rachel Knight

Best birthday ever! I spent two days at Coffs Harbour on January 6 and January 7. I travelled down on the 5th and left on the 8th, my sole reason for traveling 7 hours by train each way being to spend my birthday at your park which is on January 6. I loved it so much and everyone was so friendly that I have already booked my next holiday for 2021 so I can see you all again. My first day I book..

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