Fears for a world-famous dolphin in the small town of Dingle in west Ireland are mounting. Fungie, the oldest living solitary dolphin in the world, is still missing from Dingle Harbour, Co. Kerry.
A team of divers have searched a 12km stretch of west Kerry coast extensively. Local fisherman have been searching for the dolphin this past week, however boats have stood down due to bad weather. Now, there are fears that Fungie that has died or perhaps finally moved on.
The town of Dingle has built a popular tourism industry around the dolphin. Visitors can enjoy regular boat trips, gift items and even a statue in his honour. Since 1983, Fungie has made Dingle Harbour his home. He is best known for his playful and friendly behaviour with tourists on boat trips in the harbour.
Fungie the Dingle Dolphin is a Star Attraction of Kerry
The friendly bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) was named the oldest solitary dolphin in the world in 2019 by the Guinness Book of World Records.
“I think he is fond of Dingle because it’s a very sheltered harbour… He may have been orphaned here and therefore he feels secure here. Dolphins are highly intelligent, and I think he knows he is an honorary member of Dingle.”
Pádraig Whooley, sightings officer for the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG), tells the BBC that while solitary bottlenose dolphins are not unheard of, Fungie is different.
“It’s not hugely unusual for them to seek out an area and stay there for a while but to spend practically their entire adult life in one little harbour is really exceptional,” he said.
The entire town of Dingle – and the rest of Ireland – remains hopeful that the friendly dolphin returns home safe and sound.