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Dolphin Marine Magic - exposing substandard aquariums

Dolphin Marine Magic
Caption: Bucky the dolphin is very elderly and recovering from cancer – he is still made to perform an intensive work schedule.

Bucky the dolphin is very elderly and has recently suffered from cancer. Despite his health and age, Bucky is still forced to regularly perform demeaning circus shows and pull heavy tourists around on his back. 

You might not believe it, but this abuse is happening in our very own backyard, at a theme park called Dolphin Marine Magic (DMM) in the NSW coastal town of Coffs Harbour.

Bucky has been the “star” performer at DMM for over 40 years. Even though dolphins are not endangered, four other dolphins have been purposely bred at the park. AFD is working to give Bucky and his family the old age they deserve - in an ocean sanctuary.

DMM is breaking NSW animal protection legislation, and the dolphins in its “care” are paying the price. 

To start, four of the park's animal enclosures are too small. DMM has an unusual “exemption” for its dolphin show pool (so it can operate although the pool doesn’t meet even the minimum size required by the law) and has applied for a further exemption for its non-compliant seal pool.

As DMM privately admits in its annual reports, the pool that Bucky and his family are crowded into as their living quarters is also too small to meet minimum legal standards. 

In the wild, Bucky and his family would travel tens or hundreds of kilometres each day. At DMM, they are cramped into swimming pools which do not even meet the minimum requirements of the 20-year-old, outdated legal standards.

In contravention of the NSW Dolphin Standards, which ban direct contact between the public and dolphins, DMM also allows paying tourists to ride on the dolphins, “boogie board” on the dolphins, and hang their heavy bodies off the dolphins’ fragile fins. DMM also markets dolphin “kisses" (its phone number is 1300 KISSES), even though NSW law bans the kissing of animals. There is a good reason for this legal ban - mouth-to-mouth contact with humans exposes the dolphins to dangerous pathogens and diseases.

Thanks to AFD's investigations and public campaign, these breaches have been exposed in The Australian, the ABC and Fairfax newspapers. In late 2014, as a result of our petition which was signed by thousands of supporters, the authorities announced an investigation into DMM for animal welfare breaches.

In 2015, AFD is continuing to pressure DMM on all fronts to provide better conditions for Bucky and his family. We are working with a local dolphin rehabilitation organisation to promote the establishment of a sea sanctuary near Coffs Harbour, where Bucky and his family could have the lives they deserve in the ocean.

If you would like to help achieve this for Bucky and his family, we’d love you to become an AFD member. Please sign our petition calling for an end to dolphin captivity in NSW and we’ll keep you regularly updated on this important campaign!

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