Dolphin Marine Magic has been one of our favourite places to visit so far. The combination of once-in-a-lifetime animal encounters and learning about the conservation and rehabilitation efforts of the award-winning park made it a day to remember for a long time.
We knew we were in for a unique experience when we entered the park, and almost tripped over Athena – one of the resident seals on her way to her daily photo shoot. We followed her through the garden and found ourselves first in line to get a seal hug and kiss – an absolutely incredible feeling (if not a little fishy smelling!) The seal hugs are included in the price of entry and happen twice a day before the show so make sure you get there early enough so you don’t miss out – you can buy the photos later in the day if you want but there is no obligation.
Before we could wave goodbye to Athena the boys were off into the gardens again, having spotted two beautiful peacocks proudly presenting their tail feathers for all to admire. I mentioned to the boys that it would be cool to find a peacock feather so to keep an eye out on the ground for one. Unfortunately, Arthur (3) took this as a challenge to try and remove one manually so we had to get him out of the area quick smart. Thankfully the first show of the day was about to begin so we had plenty of distraction!
We headed into the pool arena, but before the main event started we joined another short line and made our way to the front to get a kiss from the stars of the show – the dolphins! We had no idea that this was all included in the entry ticket so it was a lovely surprise – the looks on the boys’ faces when they got so close to these incredible marine creatures was priceless!
During the show we learned so much about all the animals at the park – as well as about some of Dolphin Marine Magic’s mission.
For over 40 years (originally known as ‘The Pet Porpoise Pool) they have been ‘edutaining’ visitors – educating them in important marine issues as well as entertaining at the same time. The park originally opened as a rescue and rehabilitation centre for native marine animals and their work still has this strong emphasis today. Dolphin Marine Magic is the largest captive breeding centre of the endangered Australian Sea Lion, with less than 8,000 left in the wild. They also care for marine animals that have been brought into captive care as a result of an injury or event that means they can’t be released back into the wild. Currently, the park is home to 5 Indo-Pacific Bottle-nose Dolphins, nine Australian sea lions and one New Zealand fur seal. Dolphin Marine Magic is also home to a flock of Little Blue Penguins, Green Sea Turtles, Fresh Water Turtles and a host of endemic fish species. You can get up close and personal with all the residents throughout your visit.
A massive highlight for us was when Renner (4) was called out of the crowd to help as part of the show – he was so excited! See our video for his cameo appearance
After the show, all the kids got to approach the pool and say g’day to the dolphins again who swam past for a belly rub or fin stroke – which the kids were all happy to give.
But there was no time to rest! Straight after the show, it was time for the fish feeding – Arthur still talks about this as one of his favourite moments – we were given tongs and fish food which the giant fish snapped up. To be honest, I was a tiny bit worried about Arthur’s fingers!
After the fish feeding, we watched a talk about the beautiful giant turtles, then headed back to the main garden in search of the Little Blue Penguins – a hungry flock of 17 waiting for us to feed them fish!
This was probably my favourite thing – they are just too adorable and luckily grown-ups got to take part too. Most of the penguins were rescued from local beaches with injuries meaning it wasn’t safe to release them again, with some of the younger ones being born at Dolphin Marine Magic as part of the managed Australian breeding program.
Then just like that, the day was over. We had arrived before 10am and the park closes at 3pm. The time just flew by with all the activities on offer – there is a cafe on site for lunch so you can spend the whole day.
Our kids are still too young, but for older kids and adults you can experience a whole variety of wildlife experiences where you can get in the water and swim with the seals and dolphins.
Dolphin Marine Magic is located in Coffs Harbour on Australia’s East Coast, about half way between Brisbane and Sydney. It’s definitely worth staying for a few nights as there is a lot to do in the area – but make sure the park is high up on your list. They are open every day of the year (the animals need love and attention every day!) from 9am – 3pm.
If you’re a dolphin lover and heading to Queensland – did you know that you can hand feed wild dolphins in Tin Can Bay?
***** We were guests of Dolphin Marine Magic for our visit but all thoughts and opinions are our own ****