Tributes pour in for Fungie from heartbroken locals as fears grow that missing Dingle dolphin is gone forever

Tributes pour in for Fungie from heartbroken locals as fears grow that missing Dingle dolphin is gone forever

FUNGIE the dolphin hasn't been seen now for over six days as hopes fade that the famous Dingle resident will ever be seen again.

On Sunday, search parties were called off after an extensive search as locals begin to face up to the fact that their beloved resident dolphin may never come home.

Touching tributes have been pouring in for Fungie, from those who know him best.

"He is woven into the fabric and identity of the town," A Dingle fisherman said.

Fungie was first spotted in Dingle harbour in the 1980s, and has spent the last 37 years charming and exciting locals and tourists alike every single day in the same tiny corner of Co. Kerry.

He gained national attention after showing a keenness to interact with not only boats, but humans too.

His friendliness sparked a tourism boom in the town, and many people's livelihoods now depend on offering visitors the opportunity to see Fungie, such is his dependability, despite being a wild animal.

Jimmy Flannery, the founder and owner of Dingle Sea Seafari tours said that "people have to realise and respect this is a friend that's gone missing. It's not an object."

" [Searchers] are drained - mentally and physically," he told the Irish Mirror.

Divers have been searching the area surrounding Dingle harbour, desperately looking for the porpoise, who they fear might have sadly passed on.

Councillor Breandán Fitzgerald added the "story of the Dingle dolphin is the story of the development of the harbour and everything.

"Some people tell me 50-100 direct jobs are tied to Fungie, but I'd nearly say everything is tied to Fungie.

"If he doesn't come back, it'll be very tough.

"If you had said it to me a month or a week ago, could 2020 get any worse, I'd have probably said no," he added.

"But next minute, all of a sudden, if Fungie doesn't come back it'll be a desperate year altogether."

Theories as to where Fungie might be are open ended.

Speculation that he might have died is hard to ignore, particularly given that he was very much entering the twilight of his life, but some think there's a chance he might just be on a very long hunt, or that he's hiding from a pod of dolphins that were spotted close to the coast around the time of his disappearance.

Either way, all we ca do now is wait and hope.

One local fisherman summed Fungie up perfectly:

"He gave so much and he asked for so little."