Fungie is Dingle’s gem. He is a bottlenose dolphin that arrived in Dingle Harbour around 1984 and who since then has never left. He must have been a fully grown adult by this stage, because the locals guess he has been alive since the mid-70s, which means he is probably around 40 years old! Nobody really knows how and why Fungie came to Dingle. Bottlenose dolphins usually live in pods, but perhaps Fungie was separated from his at a young age, or maybe he chose to leave, electing for a sedentary life rather than a life traversing the vast, harsh oceans. Either way he is never short of company in the Dingle harbour, as the boats travel out each morning to frolic alongside the playful dolphin.
Many people find it hard to believe that a dolphin can live for so long, and so the presence of Fungie is surrounded by rumour and speculation on how such an occurrence can really be. Some say he was replaced some years ago by another dolphin, some say the locals are constantly releasing dolphins into the harbour and Fungie is really many different dolphins, and some say he is incontrovertibly, beyond the shadow of a doubt, a robot. But here at Dingle Marina Dive Centre, we see him every day, and see the distinctive nick in his dorsal fin, and most importantly we see how he behaves. We see the way he likes to ride in our wake as we speed up, and the way he likes to follow our anchor as we drop it to the ocean floor, and that’s how we recognize the Fungie that everybody knows and loves.
There is undoubtedly something special and mysterious about Fungie, having lived so long, and having come to Dingle for reasons unknown. Even those who seem uninterested in seeing Fungie become excited and amazed by his size and his attitude. You can count on Fungie, he will be there, rain or shine, and for that Dingle owes him a lot. Underwater your chances of seeing Fungie are slim, as he is often preoccupied with entertaining the spectators within the harbour. Though I always keep an eye out for him, and often hear him while diving in the harbour, so hopefully one day we will happen across one another under the sea.
By Edmond Sacre