Coffs Harbour local tourist attraction Dolphin Marine Magic has a brand new name – Dolphin Marine Conservation Park (DMCP). This iconic attraction has operated for almost 50 years. FOCUS chatted with Managing Director Terry Goodall, to find out more about this milestone and the changes ahead.
Terry, can you please tell us about your recent appointment as MD?
I have been on the Board of Pet Porpoise Pty Ltd, which is the holding company of Dolphin Marine Conservation Park, for around three years. When former MD Paige Sinclair announced her decision to retire after 14 years, I thought it was an excellent opportunity to become more involved in a hands-on capacity. I had been working with the Board on a new direction and business strategy for the park and to have the opportunity to implement that strategy and re-focus was a fantastic honour, particularly given my association and connection with the park.
Tell us about your special connection and personal interest in Dolphin Marine Conservation Park and what it means for you to continue this vital work?
I used to come up to Coffs to holiday with my uncle (Hec Goodall) as a teenager. Dad would drive straight through from Melbourne, drop me off at Hec’s place, stay for a day or two, and then drive back. Being able to spend my Christmas holidays with dolphins, seals, wombats and other wildlife at the park and learning all about marine life from Hec was like a dream come true for an aspiring marine biologist. Hec was one of the foremost authorities on the subject in Australia at the time. He still keeps an impressive library of books and newspaper cuttings on the subject.
My career led me to follow a business path in industries from pharmaceuticals to retail to tourism, so to contribute to the ongoing success of the park now is a privilege. The opportunity to work in marine conservation and further the vital work of DMCP and build a higher public profile for our organisation is like a second chance to make a difference in an area I have always loved.
Tell us more about the conservation that has been carried out to date and your future plans?
DMCP was set up by Hec and his supporters almost 50 years ago as a rescue, rehabilitation and release marine wildlife park for stranded, sick or injured animals. Unfortunately, some of those animals were unable to be released back to the wild, and so they found a home at the park. Today that work continues, with the DMCP team being called out to stranded and injured animals regularly. Often those animals can be treated on-site at the beach and returned to the water. Otherwise, we take them back to our rehabilitation area at the park to give them more intensive or prolonged treatment. When they recover, they are then released back to the wild.
In some cases, animals cannot be released. For example, Scotty, our New Zealand Fur Seal, needed to have one of her eyes removed due to an injury she sustained, which meant she could not be released. She has joined the colony of Australian Sea Lions at the Park and is now one of our most popular members of our extended animal family with visitors to the park.
To quantify the amount of work that is performed at the park, over the last 12 months our team has been called out to 28 on-site strandings or injured animals, and we have had an additional 75 brought back to our rehab facility for more intensive treatment. We work closely with NSW Parks and Wildlife and other animal welfare groups, and we are often the first option for members of the public who come across injured marine animals.
Besides the rehabilitation side, will Dolphin Marine Conservation Park still play a vital role in education and delighting visitors?
Over the past 49 years, our wildlife park has hosted hundreds of thousands of guests, who have left the park with a far greater appreciation for the animals we care for and the environment we share with them.
In addition to hosting the public on a day to day basis, DMCP also has a very active education program, where we host students of all ages from schools as part of their curriculum. We run Junior Marine Ranger programs over the holidays for school-aged children, who can spend a day at the park under the guidance of one of our team members and learn what it is like to be an animal carer.
The animals help us to educate our guests about how they live in the wild, their behaviours, their intelligence and how important it is to conserve our shared environment. If we continue to pollute our oceans with plastics and rubbish, we will eventually create an environment that is unsustainable for these beautiful creatures. That is the message we communicate daily and have been since the park began. Now, we plan to refocus on this message and give the conservation activities we practice a much higher profile.
What new and exciting changes will we be able to look forward to in 2019?
Without a doubt, one of the most exciting changes for 2019 will be the additional resource we will be providing to our charitable trust, Dolphin Marine Rescue and Animal Rehab Trust (DMRART). DMCP will be working with DMRART in the creation of an entirely revamped rehabilitation facility on site at DMCP and the establishment of a Wildlife Hospital to service the local and broader Coffs Coast area.
This relationship will also provide the opportunity for those many people out there who wish to “make a difference” to become involved as volunteers.