Newspaper article Coffs Coast Advocate (Coffs Harbour, Australia)

{Dolphins Sassy, } {with Attitude.}; WENDY ANDREWS Takes a Look Behind the Scenes at the Pet Porpoise Pool

Newspaper article Coffs Coast Advocate (Coffs Harbour, Australia)

{Dolphins Sassy, } {with Attitude.}; WENDY ANDREWS Takes a Look Behind the Scenes at the Pet Porpoise Pool

Article excerpt

HAVING a quiet poolside chat with one of the trainers at the Pet Porpoise Pool isn't so easy.

When I was there on Wednesday we were constantly interrupted. One female in particular was most insistent about getting our attention. So insistent she started making rude noises and splashing us.

My visit to the iconic Coffs Coast attraction to talk with marine animal trainer, Chris Bull, had encroached on Calamity's playtime.

Calamity is the 'yummy mummy' of the dolphin family at the Pet Porpoise Pool and doesn't take too kindly to sharing Chris.

"It's my fault," Chris said about Calamity's antics.

"Calamity is clever, she's sassy and has a bit of attitude and knows how to work the system - I haven't walked away from the pool after finishing our playtime so she naturally thinks I'm still here to play, she'll keep eyeballing and trying to engage us until we walk away."

A normal day at the 'office' for Chris Bull can include training dolphins, attending planning meetings, chopping up fish and tending to exhibit care and maintenance.

"I have a degree in marine biology and picking up seal poop," he said, "it's like dog nuggets and has to be vacuumed out of the pool."

When the crowds have gone home and the front gate is closed it's seal free time and those 'nuggets' can be found all over.

"We let the seals roam so they feel comfortable in their environment. They love to drop in on the dolphins and play a bit of chasey - someone is always trying to nip someone on the bum but it's not only play, all this activity is great for building up their muscles and natural defence mechanisms."

Visitors to the Pet Porpoise Pool might prefer the icy poles at the cafe but the seals love the special ice-blocks the trainers make.

"We give the seals an iceblock with a fish or toy frozen into the middle of it," Chris said.

"It keeps them busy, they also love the water cannons that create a fountain and you'll usually find a seal sitting near the filling valve."

The Australian sea lions at the park are the most playful but it's the quiet one, Pearl the New Zealand fur seal, you need to watch.

"We have a lot of seagulls here and they take a risk flying low near Pearl - she's managed to grab a few over the years," Chris said. …

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