Fungie the Dolphin has been a bit of a local celebrity in Dingle, Ireland since he was first spotted in the harbor by Paddy Ferriter back in 1983. The famously playful dolphin would dance with humans and leap excitedly through the air, entertaining tourists and fishermen alike.
But no one's seen Fungie since October 13. As RTÉ reports:
Boats and divers have been carrying out an extensive search of Dingle Harbour for the past week, but there has been no sign of the famous dolphin.
Marine biologist Kevin Flannery said that Fungie may have joined other dolphins or headed out to sea to feed, but given Fungie's age, he also fears the dolphin may have died.
"We think he was about nine years of age when he first arrived here in 1983 so that puts him at 45. The experts tell us that the usual life-span of a dolphin is in and around 45-50," he said.
"He is a wild animal living in the wild. Attempting to catch fish at that age is challenging for him. There's a possibility he could have picked up an infection and could have died," he added.
The community is devastated — Fungie was a local icon, who also helped turn the 2,000-person County Kerry town into a tourist destination along the Atlantic Coast.
Slán agus go raibh maith agat, Fungie, wherever you may be.
Locals fear 'strong likelihood' Fungie will not return [Seán Mac an tSíthigh / RTÉ News]
Image: Osioni/Wikimedia Commons (CC 3.0)