After the World’s Longest-Lived Dolphin Disappeared, Ireland Says Goodbye to Fungie
Decades of dolphin habitat have made Dingle city famous. But it was Fungie that made tourists from all over the world come to this distant part of Ireland. This is how a growing tourism industry emerged on the edge of Europe.
But 37 years later, it vanished for good. And now, a year after it was last seen, locals are setting up a memorial in honor of their favorite dolphin, offering boat trips for free starting from Sunday.
At the beginning of the pandemic, Jimmy Flannery, who managed Dingle Dolphin Tours for more than thirty years, promised to keep Fungie because tours were limited by Covid-19 restrictions. But six weeks later, the restrictions were increased by the outbreak. And by October 2020, Fungie had gone. Prior to that, it had never disappeared for more than a few hours.
A large search operation involving dozens of boats had begun. Search and rescue swimmers carried large-scale searches in bays, where dolphins usually swim, even conducting sonar studies of the seabed.
The founder of the aquarium Dingle Oceanworld says that the dolphin is probably dead, and the likely factor is its age. He said Fungie was a teenager when it first arrived in Dingle. The average life duration of male dolphins is 40 years. In 2019, the Guinness Book of Records recognized Fungie as the longest-lived lone dolphin in the world.
The nature of Fungie was fascinating, and not only it played an important role in the revival of tourism but it also helped people understand why they should care about the wider marine world.
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