NEW RESEARCH into the whereabouts of Fungie the dolphin indicates that he might have simply migrated elsewhere.
It's been over two weeks since Ireland's favourite bottlenose was last seen, and hopes are fading that he'll ever return to Dingle, the town where he's spent the last 37 years of his life, or be seen again.
Given his age, and the fact that he's never gone more than a day without being seen in the bay, many have speculated that Fungie may sadly be dead, but recent research into other missing dolphins suggests that a more likely explanation for his disappearance is that he's migrated.
According to research published by the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG), dolphins that frequent the Shannon estuary which were initially presumed to have passed away were found to have moved into nearby bays.
'Missing' dolphins were turning up just down the coast in places like Tralee and Brandon Bay, and the hope is that this might be what happened to Fungie.
It's thought that around 140 dolphins live in the Shannon estuary, so the study fares as a reasonable sample size.
Following his disappearance, the IWDG delved into its 27-year-old identification dataset to see if it could provide any clarity on Fungie's fate.
Dolphins and whales are highly mobile, ranging thousands of kilometres, and there's a chance that - despite his static behaviour of the last three-and-a-half decades - Fungie might suddenly pop up somewhere half-way round the country.
But the IWDG remained realistic about the situation, stressing that a lack of sightings in a fortnight, in spite of a continued extensive search for him, is probably a sign that Fungie is in fact dead rather than on holiday.
Whatever his fate, the IWDG insisted that "his legacy will live on for years."