Dolphin Marine Conservation Park

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FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

If you can’t find the answer to your question here, please contact us and one of our friendly team will be in touch with you shortly.

General

Can I take my own photos?

Yes, private photos and videos can be taken of any public activity at the park.  Please respect our animals and other visitors and allow plenty of space for our animals. All requests for images and video for commercial use must be approved by management. Please email info@dmcvp.com.au

Do I need to print off my receipt when I buy tickets or vouchers?

No, you do not need to physically have a printed receipt, just show us the image from your smart phone or quote the receipt number and the name who bought the tickets/voucher.

Do you have food available on-site?

Yes we do, the Creekside Cafe overlooks Coffs Creek and is open from 7:30 am for breakfast, and then lunch. Through select school holiday dates, we also offer a Sausage Sizzle in the park at a very reasonable price.  

Check out the Creekside Cafe here >>
Do you have group rates?

Yes we do.  We have discounted prices for groups 10 -25 people and over 26, if you arrive in a coach the driver is free of charge.  Please give us a ring at 02 6659 1910 for group bookings so that we can reserve seating.

How much time should I allow to experience everything at the park?

Please check the daily schedule link on our website before you arrive to check the most up to date & current times.

Is your Marine Dreamtime presentation on every day?

Our main Marine Dreamtime presentation is on every day.

Please head to our daily schedule for the most up to date times.

When are you open?

Dolphin Marine Conservation Park is open from 9 am to 3:30 pm every day during the NSW school holidays. Our dedicated team is here every day because our animals need love, care and attention every single day. We welcome you to come and meet our animals and support our conservation programs.

Creekside Cafe is open from 7:30 am to 2:30 pm every day of the year to eat in or take away. Fully licensed from 10:30 am so you can enjoy a beer, wine or cocktail with your meal.

Where are you located?

We are located at 65 Orlando Street, Coffs Harbour, NSW which is on the beautiful Mid North Coast 6 hours by car from Sydney or only 4.5 hours from Brisbane. Find out more about getting to our park here.

Which days are the busiest?

Our busiest days are Saturday and Sunday.

What do we do at Dolphin Marine Conservation Park?

At Dolphin Marine Conservation Park we inspire realistic, attainable and sustainable behaviour changes to conserve the marine environment through the empathy guests feel for our marine life after our unique, hands-on animal interactions and educational Marine presentation.

As a part of this work, Dolphin Marine Conservation Park cares for the amazing animals that call our park home. We also rescue and rehabilitate sick and injured marine animals and release them back to their natural homes.

Aside from presenting our animals to the general public, we also take our role as educators further by inspiring the next generation to change their behaviour through unique, hands-on education programs at the park where school children interact with our animals in lessons they will remember forever.

Dolphin Marine Conservation Park also leads the way within the local business and industry community through our partnership with the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage in their Sustainability Advantage Program. Through these programs, Dolphin Marine Conservation Park demonstrates realistic and attainable ways for businesses to go ‘green’. Our park was recently honoured with a Bronze Partner Award and achieved ‘Zero carbon footprint for waste to landfill’.

For more information on what we do at Dolphin Marine Conservation Park, please continue reading our website.

Animals

Do you breed dolphins?

As of the 14th March 2018, we no longer breed our dolphins in line with the future direction of the organisation.

The dolphins we have in our park have either been rescued or born here, and they all participate in a full range of behaviours; from play to mock foraging for their food. While reproduction will be no longer be part of their lives, we are confident that the dolphins will continue to experience dynamic and enriching social interactions.

There is strong scientific evidence that supports the link between breeding and the positive welfare of animals under human care that cannot be released back to the wild, so we will be working with the Zoo and Aquarium Association (ZAA) to ensure that our animals’ welfare remains positive in the absence of our females rearing young.

Are your dolphins captured from the wild?

No, absolutely not! Aside from the fact that it is against the law in Australia to bring healthy marine mammals into captivity for public exhibition, Dolphin Marine Conservation Park does not support at either a company or operational level the live capture or trade of any species of wild marine mammal for display.

All our dolphins and seals have either been born under human care or have been rescued and rehabilitated but then deemed unsuitable for release by an independent body (usually National Parks and Wildlife Services) and so must remain under our care in order to survive.

We deplore the annual drive catches at Taiji and strongly believe that all animals belong in the wild wherever possible, doing our utmost to return all rescue and rehabilitation cases to the ocean if we are able.

Do you breed any animals at Dolphin Marine Conservation Park?

We have had many animals that have been born at the park including penguin chicks, sea lion pups and dolphin calves. Breeding plans for all these species are carefully developed in collaboration with organisations such as the Zoo and Aquarium Association (ZAA) and with other zoological facilities within the region. These plans are designed to ensure a healthy gene pool and to make sure each and every animal born or hatched in Australia will have a home. All the breeding at the park is carefully monitored in accordance with these plans and unwanted breeding is prevented through the use of contraceptives.

Does Dolphin Marine Conservation Park meet the standards for keeping dolphins?

Every year we must apply for and be granted a licence from the NSW Department of Primary Industries.
On the 21st February 2017 the Minister for Primary Industries, the Honourable Niall Blair, confirmed in NSW Questions to parliament “The Department is satisfied that the primary and secondary dolphin pools at Dolphin Marine Conservation Park meet applicable standards and licensing conditions”.

Does Dolphin Marine Conservation Park rehabilitate marine animals?

Over the years Dolphin Marine Conservation Park has rescued, rehabilitated and released thousands of sick or injured marine animals and is the only facility in NSW which is licenced to rehabilitate dolphins and whales onsite and in 2019 alone Dolphin Marine Conservation Park was involved in the rescue of over 60 marine animals including dolphins, seals, whales and marine turtles.

To help expand on the rescue and rehabilitation services that Dolphin Marine Conservation Park has created a charitable trust. This was formerly known as the Coffs Harbour Animal Rescue Trust (CHART) however now you may know it as Dolphin Marine Rescue Animal Rehab Trust (DMRART).

DMRART works closely with the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and is currently raising funds to build a specialised triage hospital for both native wildlife and marine animals.

How much time do the animals spend interacting with people at Dolphin Marine Conservation Park?

The recently gazed ‘Standards for Exhibiting Seals in NSW’, which are among the most modern and stringent marine mammal standards in the world, allow seals to interact with people for up to two hours each day. Presently the NSW dolphin standards do not place any limits on the number of time dolphins are allowed to interact however Dolphin Marine Conservation Park has taken it upon its self to develop in-house standards that are based on the NSW seal standards and limit the interaction time to a maximum of two and half hours a day. This limit includes any time when the animals participate in shows, educational lessons, swims and other water-based programs, feeding interactions or any other time when the animals are asked to interact with members of the public.

It is important to note that these are maximum limits and the reality is that most days the animals spend much less time than this interacting with the public. Just like the staff, the animals have rostered days and shows off and they all take it in turns to do the various jobs at the park. For example, Bella might have a morning off and then do a show in the afternoon, have the following day completely off and then do two swims on the day after that.

What is your stance on the dolphin captures at Taiji?

Dolphin Marine Conservation Park deplores the drive catches and senseless slaughter of dolphins in the ‘Cove’ at Taiji and fully supports the efforts of the brave volunteers in Taiji who attempting to record the horrific slaughter, bringing attention to the world through peaceful and law-abiding means.

Because of our strict stance on the capture of wild dolphins, Dolphin Marine Conservation Park has never and will never purchase or obtain a dolphin or the offspring of a dolphin that has been captured through driving catches that occur in Japan or any other location around the world nor do we associate with or support any facility that does.

There are many people who claim that simply by having dolphins in our care, we are supporting the capture of the dolphins from the wild, regardless of the fact that all our dolphins have been rescued with injuries or born at the park.

We believe that through our strict stance on wild dolphin capture, along with similar stances from other like-minded facilities around Australia and the world, we are leading the way in the marine mammal care industry and we hope that we can one day change the views and stances of these facilities that do still support the needless capture of dolphins from the wild.

What should you do if you find a sick or injured marine animal?

Contact Dolphin Marine Conservation Park, Dolphin Marine Rescue Animal Rehab Trust (DMRART), or National Parks and Wildlife Services (NPWS) immediately.

Dolphin Marine Conservation Park can be reached on (02) 6659 1910 during office hours.

DMRART can be contacted 0455 591 901

NPWS can be contacted on (02) 6652 0900.

It is important to remember that seals regularly haul to rest on beaches and rocks.  This is not a sign that they need help, but if you are worried about them please contact either Dolphin Marine Conservation Park or National Parks and Wildlife Services on the numbers provided above.  Please do not approach these animals and make sure you keep your domestic animals at bay. Wild animals may have an illness that might be transferable to you or your pet.

What sort of experience and qualifications do your staff have?

Our staff come from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences. Roughly half of the marine team come from a marine science background and have studied at university before beginning their career in the care for animals. Other members of the team have previous experience at other parks and have formal zoo keeping and animal management qualifications which is the benchmark qualification for anyone working in a zoological facility in Australia. In all, the small team of animal keepers at the park have over 100 years of combined experience in the care of marine animals.

No matter their background, the one thing that all our staff have in common is a passion for marine conservation and a love for the animals in their care. Not only do the marine team frequently volunteer their own time, day or night, to rescue, rehabilitate and release injured marine life at the park but many members of the team also volunteer their time to help other animal rescue groups or voluntarily assist organisations such as the New South Wales National Parks And Wildlife Services in scientific research.

Why can’t your animals be released into the wild?

The animals at Dolphin Marine Conservation Park are unable to be released into the wild due to either injury that they have previously sustained in the wild (which were the reason that they were rescued) or because they have been born under human care and don’t possess the necessary skills and abilities they need to survive in the open ocean.

Past attempts that have been made to retrain animals that have lived under human care for release into the wild have not only been notoriously expensive but also has a very slim track record of success. Even Paul Watson, the founder of Sea Shepard, noted in his article “The cult of Animal Celebrity” (Animal People: June 1995) that money spent attempting to release high profile animals back into the wild is wasted money that could have been better spent highlighting other major environmental issues.

Many famous release attempts have ended tragically for the animals released including Keiko, the Orca made famous in Free Willy, who died suddenly after tens of millions of dollars were spent attempting to training him for release back into the wild or the dolphins from the Atlantis Marine Park in Western Australia who either vanished upon release and are assumed to have died or had to be returned to human after been found in extremely poor health.

Although our animals cannot be released, we firmly believe that we provide our animals with the best possible care at Dolphin Marine Conservation Park and through the hands-on experience our friendly animals offer our guests, we believe our animals inspire guests to make more of an effort to conserve and protect the wild animals that could our oceans home.

In-Water Experiences

Can my children get in the water with the dolphins and seals?

Yes they can, they do have to meet certain age requirements, and advanced bookings are recommended.

Do I need to print off my receipt when I buy tickets or vouchers?

No you do not need to physically have a printed receipt, just show us the image from your smartphone or quote the receipt number and the name who bought the tickets/voucher.

If I am pregnant can I get in the water with the dolphins and seals?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. While we would love to allow you to experience the magic of being in the water with our animals whilst pregnant, we do not wish to endanger you or your baby.

Although our animals are all well trained and very friendly, some of our animals weigh more than 150 kilos and if they could still cause you harm or injury by mistake if they were to bump against you by accident during your program.

If I have a disability can I get in the water with the dolphins and seals?

Yes, we allow disabled people in the water with our animals, although we need to ensure your safety. To address this issue, we will ask you some questions. We will need to know if you are mobile and can follow direction from our trainers, if not we will ask that you have your personal carer in the water to assist you, free of charge. We offer ‘Special’ experiences all year round, but if you want to do it in the peak holiday periods, it can be more than triple what it would cost on the shoulder and off-peak periods.  Therefore, to guarantee you a ‘one-on-one’ with our animals, we ask that you try to book your ‘Special’ experience in our shoulder and off-peak seasons, which are outside all school holidays and not from about mid-December to the end of January.

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Aboriginal Artwork

We acknowledge the Gumbaynggirr people
who are the traditional custodians of this land.
We pay respect to the Elders, both past and present,
of the Gumbaynggirr Nation and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.