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Legacy of Dingle dolphin Fungie to live on in dedicated eco-tours

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Missed: Fungie at play with Jimmy Flannery, a founding member of the fishermen’s group which set up the original Fungie tour. Photo: Domnick Walsh/Eye Focus LTD

Missed: Fungie at play with Jimmy Flannery, a founding member of the fishermen’s group which set up the original Fungie tour. Photo: Domnick Walsh/Eye Focus LTD

Missed: Fungie at play with Jimmy Flannery, a founding member of the fishermen’s group which set up the original Fungie tour. Photo: Domnick Walsh/Eye Focus LTD

Missing dolphin Fungie is to be commemorated with special eco-tours in west Kerry next summer.

The news comes as marine experts indicated that the famous Bottlenose Dolphin who made Dingle his home since 1983 has either moved to new waters or has died.

Heartbroken locals are now adapting to a future without the town’s beloved dolphin, who underpinned an entire tourism segment.

More than a dozen reported sightings of Fungie since he mysteriously vanished around October 15 have now been dismissed as well-intentioned but incorrect.

Locals including fisherman Jimmy Flannery and Dingle OceanWorld director Kevin Flannery stressed that Fungie had never vanished for more than 24 hours since he first arrived off the west Kerry fishing port 37 years ago.

Despite scouring waters where Fungie had frolicked since 1983, there has been no trace of the dolphin.

Now, Dingle locals hope that Fungie’s legacy will be a greater awareness of the environment and an ongoing appetite for eco-tourism focused on west Kerry.

Three firms and up to 10 boats plied waters off Dingle each summer offering Fungie sight-seeing trips.

Several are now planning special eco-tours for 2021 – focusing on the legacy of Fungie, local seal and seabird colonies as well as the chance to spot common do lphins and whales.

It is also hoped the local OceanWorld attraction will keep the town at the centre of Irish marine and eco-tourism.

Kevin Flannery said Fungie’s legacy in Dingle is undisputed – and the dolphin has disappeared as mysteriously as he first appeared 37 years ago. Fungie is estimated to be anywhere between 45 and 55 years old.

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He partnered with a young female dolphin a decade ago but she left west Kerry waters when pregnant, apparently unhappy with all the attention from day-trippers.

“I think the likely and sad inevitability is that Fungie has moved on. But Fungie will never be forgotten here in Dingle and I believe his legacy will live on.”

Mr Flannery said that people in Dingle and across Ireland are slowly beginning to understand just how fortunate they were to have Fungie for 37 years. “Fungie helped highlight the incredible marine environment off our coast," he said.


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