Irish News


Fungie the dolphin 'lonely' in lockdown - but kind fisherman keeping him company



Buoyant mood: Jimmy Flannery is greeted by Fungie the dolphin off the coast of Dingle, Co Kerry, while out in his boat. Photo: Domnick Walsh
Gallery 1
Buoyant mood: Jimmy Flannery is greeted by Fungie the dolphin off the coast of Dingle, Co Kerry, while out in his boat. Photo: Domnick Walsh

A kind-hearted Kerry fisherman was so moved by the sight of Fungie the dolphin being lonely he now undertakes daily trips just to keep him company.

Jimmy Flannery, from Dingle, Co Kerry, is a hugely experienced fisherman and helped found the local fishermen's group.

However, he was taken aback by the realisation that Fungie, a famous solitary dolphin living off the west Kerry coast since 1983, had become lonely without any human interaction over the past two months because of the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown.

Already a subscriber? Log in

Please see our subscription terms and conditions

"Fungie was lonely alright," he said.

"He follows the (commercial) fishing boats out but they don't have time for him. They are too busy heading to the fishing grounds."

Fungie's loneliness stemmed from the fact the entire leisure craft industry which sprang up around the dolphin's antics off Dingle has been suspended since March because of the lockdown.

Without his normal array of admirers and photographers lavishing him with attention, Fungie had become lonely.

Instead of being the focus of hordes of Easter holidaymakers in Dingle, Fungie was left in quiet isolation except for the movements of fishing boats from the port.

Mr Flannery, who runs Dingle Sea Safari, noticed Fungie wasn't his normal self - and other Dingle fishermen who carefully watched the dolphin agreed.

Several noted how the dolphin had sped over to boats departing the port as if expecting company, attention or even a fresh fish treat.

Now, Mr Flannery heads out of Dingle harbour twice a day to undertake odd fishing chores - but, in reality, he just wants to give Fungie a little company.

He said Fungie had adapted to human company over the years - and, like most stars, loved an audience and apparently missed it when his fans weren't around.

The fisherman joked that he hoped the dolphin appreciated the company - and doesn't forget Mr Flannery when his legions of admirers return once the lockdown is lifted.

Dingle, like other Irish holiday destinations, is now hoping for a 'staycation' boom as Irish families replace planned foreign holidays with breaks at home.

The pandemic has threatened to slash visitor numbers across Kerry, Ireland's most tourism-orientated county, by a startling 80pc this year.

Kerry officials have now urged the Government to do everything possible to promote 'staycations' by Irish families this year.

For Fungie, any attention will apparently be welcome.

Also known as the Dingle Dolphin, Fungie is a male common bottlenose dolphin.

First spotted off Dingle in the summer of 1983, Fungie became a tourist sensation with his antics near leisure craft and his clear love of being watched.

Marine biologists were astounded at the manner in which the dolphin appeared to actively seek out human contact. The dolphin routinely interacts with people on leisure craft as well as swimmers, surfers and kayakers.

Fungie's age is unknown but males generally live for between eight and 17 years.

However, in exceptional circumstances, dolphins have been known to live for almost 70 years.

Fungie has also contributed to marine science, with his taste for garfish off Dingle being the first recorded instance of dolphins eating the sleek fish, also known as the sea needle.

The canny dolphin has also underpinned his own marine tourism industry in Dingle.

Irish Independent

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Whatsapp
  • Email