REPORTS OF Fungie the Dingle dolphin’s demise may have been exaggerated.
The beloved aquatic mammal has reportedly been spotted alive and well off the Irish coast.
There had been some concern for Fungie’s welfare, following reports that the dolphin had not been seen around Dingle for the past two days.
Several boats had searched the harbour area for signs of life but were left at a loss to the dolphin’s whereabouts.
The apparent disappearance prompted Jeannine Masset and Rudi Schamart, the team behind the Fungie Forever Facebook page, who have visited the beloved dolphin on almost a daily basis for some 30 years to post a worrying update.
“It looks like we may have lost our best friend,” they wrote on Facebook.
"We all keep hoping for a miracle, but the bay feels really empty without him,” the post read.
“As you will understand, we are very upset for it looks like we may have lost our best friend."
While the message sparked some initial concern, there has since been an update offering hope that Fungie may yet prove to be alive and well.
“Important update,” a message on the Facebook group reads.
“We just got word that Fungie was seen this morning and this evening by Skipper Paul Hand as he went out early this morning and came back late this evening.”
— The Skipper (@SkipperEditor) October 15, 2020
The sighting was also reported by leading commercial fishing publication The Skipper.
Speaking to RTE, Hand said he was "one thousand percent certain it was Fungie."
"I've been looking at him for the last 40 years. It was definitely him. He swam alongside my boat for a spell as I headed out in to the bay".
He believes aa dolphin activity in the bay may be behind Fungie's absence.
"There's a share of other bottlenose dolphins out in the bay at the moment because the place is full of sprat. I saw at least five or six of them out there yesterday.
"There's a lot of feeding going on and what's happening is Fungie's is following the fishing boats out in to the bay and is deciding to stay feeding with the other dolphins. He is enjoying the company."
Dingle’s most famous mammal, Fungie the dolphin, previously set a new Guinness World Record for being the longest recorded solitary dolphin on the planet.
A Dingle resident for some 37 years, Fungie was first spotted off the Co Kerry coast way back in 1983 and has remained ever since.