AN INCREDIBLE video of a dolphin playing with people off the coast of Galway has raised hopes that Dingle's famous dolphin, Fungie, could be back.
The clip, taken over the weekend as Ireland enjoyed rare good weather, shows a playful dolphin jumping several feet out of the water to say hello to a boat floating nearby.
The fantastic video, originally taken by Steve Sweeney, immediately went viral across Ireland, with many wondering-- or hoping against hope-- that the dolphin could be Dingle's missing celebrity, Fungie.
Fungie was world-famous for being the longest-living solitary dolphin, and was renowned for being exceptionally friendly towards humans despite being a wild animal.
Galway Bay Today 🐬
🎥 Steve Sweeney pic.twitter.com/DVDqtTBjFs
— Howya Galway (@howyagalway) February 28, 2021
He lived in Dingle Bay for more than 30 years, creating a huge tourist industry for locals in the Kerry town, with thousands flocking to Dingle each year to catch a glimpse of the playful creature, who would jump alongside boats to cheers and applause from tourists.
Tragically, Fungie disappeared in October last year, forcing people to accept that the elderly dolphin may have finally passed over the rainbow bridge-- but as his body has never been found, there remains hope that he could still be alive.
Now, with the video of the Galway dolphin making the rounds on social media, many have asked the burning question: Could this be Fungie?
Oh my goodness is it Fungi?
— Samantha Kelly (@Tweetinggoddess) March 1, 2021
"Fungie moved to Galway and now has dreadlocks and plays bodhrán in a trad band," one person joked, while another said "If this is Fungie, we have a chance of 2021 being a great year!"
Another simply asked: "Could this be him?"
While everyone in Ireland would love for the Dingle dolphin to be alive and well, having simply moved up the country to bring joy to the people of Galway, sadly it looks like this is not the case.
Zoologist and Whale Watch West Cork member Nic Slocum appeared on Newstalk where he said it was "very unlikely" the dolphin in the new video is Fungie.
He told the presenter:
"The dolphin you saw jumping in that video is almost certainly a short-beaked common dolphin.
"It's kind of difficult because the film was taken into the sun, so it's difficult to tell exactly what species it is.
"But it's most likely to be a short-beaked common dolphin - and Fungie of course, as you probably know, is a bottle-nose dolphin."
While he said that the Galway dolphin is "almost certainly not" Fungie, he admitted that "you can never say never, until you're right up close to him to identify the species".
So there's still hope-- Fungie may one day return.