LOCALS in West Kerry were none too impressed with a nasty rumour that spread via the internet at the weekend claiming Fungi the Dingle dolphin had washed up dead on a beach.
By Monday morning the online world was abuzz with word that the beloved dolphin had passed away. But, although Fungie is old enough to be a pensioner in dolphin terms, most locals took the rumour with a large grain of sea salt, confident that rumours of his demise had been greatly exaggerated.
Just to be sure though, some took their boats out to the harbour's mouth to check, among them dolphin lovers Jeannine Masset and Rudi Schmart who found Fungi alive and flipping.
"He started to play right away. He was happy to see us!" said Jeannine who took this great photo of Rudi giving Fungie a friendly pat on the head. A RUMOUR which circulated on the internet last weekend claiming that Dingle's beloved dolphin Fungie had died has been slammed by locals as "ridiculous" and "absolutely baseless".
The Kerryman received a call late on Sunday night from a concerned member of the public who had seen a status update on social media website Facebook from someone who claimed they had heard that Fungie was found dead and had "washed up on a beach".
The rumour-mill quickly gathered steam with status sharing and ' RIP' wishes on the site before the rumour graduated to social media site Twitter. By Monday morning the online world was abuzz amid fears that the beloved dolphin had passed away.
Thankfully the Dingle boatmen, who encounter Fungie on a daily basis as they bring people out to see the world famous dolphin who has inhabited Dingle's waters since 1983, quickly dismissed the rumour as nonsense.
"Fungie was there this morning," Tom Hand of the Dingle Boatmen's Association told The Kerryman on Monday morning, "this rumour is absolutely baseless."
In an effort to further dispel the rumour as fiction, Jeannine Masset and Rudi Schmart who photograph and document Fungie's movements on a daily basis, made the trip out into the harbour to see Fungie (who obviously hadn't checked his phone) who was, by all accounts, in flying form.
"We were out today, even if the weather was really miserable, because we wanted to show and prove to everyone that Fungie is alive, well and happy," Jeannine told The Kerryman on Monday.
"I met a few people who were very upset – it is important that people know Fungie is alive. He was in great form and came flying towards us and started to play right away. He was happy to see us!" she added.
Jeannine and Rudi have also provided The Kerryman with photographic evidence of Fungie's good health, taken on their trip last Monday.
Kevin Flannery of Dingle Oceanworld also described the rumour as "ridiculous".
"Some people find it hard to believe that he has lived this long," he said, "but he has been with us here in Dingle since October 1983."
Fungie, who has a specific 'v' notch in his tail fin, is set to celebrate his thirtieth year in Dingle in 2013. He is also set to star in a travel documentary due to be screened on ITV in the Spring, presented by actor James Nesbitt who made Fungie's acquaintance over the summer.