Ireland's beloved wild dolphin Fungie mysteriously vanished for more than a week, and people fear he may have died

Ashley Collman
·3 min read
fungie dolphin
Undated footage of Fungie the dolphin before he went missing. RTE
  • Fungie, a solitary wild bottlenose dolphin, has lived Dingle Bay in County Kerry, Ireland, for 37 years.

  • He was first found in the County Kerry bay in 1983 and has become somewhat of a local celebrity and tourist attraction since.

  • But Fungie hasn't been spotted since October 12, prompting fears that he has either died or moved somewhere else.

  • Some locals claim to have spotted the dolphin, but it is highly unusual for him to be missing from the bay for so long. 

  • It's unclear how old Fungie was when he first arrived in Kerry in 1983. He set a record in 2019 as the oldest living solitary dolphin. 

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A beloved wild bottlenose dolphin in southwestern Ireland has gone missing for nearly two weeks, and locals fear he may have died.

Fungie first appeared in Dingle Bay in County Kerry in 1983, and has called those waters home ever since.

Since then the solitary dolphin has become a tourist attraction, and Dingle Bay has created an economy geared toward helping tourists catch a glimpse of him.

dolphin tour
A woman walks past a boat tour office in Dingle, Co Kerry. Hope is fading in the search for the missing Fungie, a celebrity dolphin that transformed the economic life of west coast harbour town over the last four decades. Niall Carson/PA Images via Getty Images

So when Fungie hadn't been spotted for two days in a row on October 14, some locals with boats started sunrise-to-sunset searches for the dolphin, to no avail, according to the Irish Examiner.

Fungie still hasn't been spotted, and fears are now rising that he may have died. It's unclear how old Fungie was when he first arrived in Kerry in 1983.

Gary Brosnan, a boatman aiding in the search for Fungie, told RTÉ on October 17 that the situation is "fairly serious now."

"Fungie very, rarely leaves the mouth of the harbor and he has never, ever been missing for this long," Brosnan said.

Some County Kerry locals have in recent days claimed to have seen Fungie since his disappearance, but not in the waters he frequents, according to the Irish Post.

A fisherman named Paul Hand also told RTÉ that Fungie came up along the left-hand side of his boat the morning of October 15.

fungie
Fungie in an undated photo. NUTAN/Gamma-Rapho via Getty

"It was definitely him?" the reporter asked Hand.

"Oh 100%, 1000%, definitely him. You can't mistake someone you're looking at for 40 years," Hand said.

Some locals have theorized that Fungie either followed a school of fish out to sea while hunting, or is avoiding other dolphin pods that have come into the bay in recent days, the Irish Post reported.

In 2019, Fungie set a Guinness World Record for being the longest-living solitary dolphin.

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