World's Oldest Solitary Dolphin Has Vanished

Residents of Ireland's Dingle Bay are searching for Fungie, a bottlenose who's lived there since 1983
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 26, 2020 3:06 PM CDT
A Dolphin Has Lived Here for 37 Years. Now He's Missing
Fungie, in happier times.   (Getty Images/PetraKosonen)

Has anyone seen Fungie? A dolphin that has resided in Ireland's Dingle Bay for nearly four decades has up and vanished, and residents aren't just missing him for sentimental reasons (though there's that, too)—Fungie had become a vital part of the local economy. Euronews reports that the bottlenose dolphin, who showed up in the bay's waters in 1983 and is believed to be in his mid-40s, has spurred a thriving sightseeing industry, with a dozen or so companies offering boat tours for a chance to spot him. He also holds the Guinness record for the oldest solitary dolphin in the world, per the Telegraph. Fishermen usually have Fungie sightings every few hours, but he disappeared completely last week.

Kevin Flannery, the director of a nearby aquarium, says Fungie was last spotted frolicking with some humpback whales and that it's possible Fungie simply took off with them, or perhaps left Dingle Bay in search of a "different environment," per Euronews. Or, Flannery notes, because the life span of dolphins in the wild is only about 50 years, there could be a more somber reason that Fungie is gone. Per the Clare Echo, a dead dolphin that washed ashore at the Trump International Golf Links resort, a couple of hours away in Doonbeg, is not Fungie. A search effort is now underway to track him down, and Dingle Bay locals are still hoping there will be a happy ending. "We're all feeling really sad," one woman who's lived in the area her whole life tells Sky News, via the Telegraph. "We've been sharing this body of water for 30 years. I grew up swimming with him." (More dolphins stories.)

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