In 1984 Fungie, a solitary wild Bottlenose Dolphin, decided to make Dingle, Co Kerry his home.
Why did he come? Why does he stay? Will he ever leave?
Paddy Ferriter, the Dingle Harbour lighthouse keeper, first noticed a lone dolphin escort the town's fishing boats to and from the Harbour. Soon after the dolphin was recorded as a permanent resident of the entrance channel and became the self appointed pilot of the fleet.
Christened "Fungie" by the local fishermen, the male dolphin lives and plays within a small area at the mouth of Dingle Harbour, overlooked by the lighthouse. A small cave under the cliffs at Burnham is thought to be his home, and from dawn till late night, Fungie is always around to welcome boats, trawlers and yachts to the Town. He is a curious and friendly animal and has been photographed bringing gifts to divers of still living fish clasped gently within his jaws. But to show his freedom, Fungie never accepts gifts from divers or fish thrown from returning trawlers.
Fungie rarely ventures far from the mouth of the harbour, a fact that has baffled scientists and specialists. A simple explanation given is that at the time of his arrival, the body of a young female bottlenose dolphin was washed up locally. Dolphins are thought to show great fidelity in their relationships and may only have one mate for life. Every June and July, schools of dolphins are to be seen in the area, although usually further offshore and once or twice Fungie has been seen playing with these groups. His much publicised fling with a young dolphin named Smokey was expected to cure his love sickness. Unfortunately Smokey left for warmer waters and Fungie stayed. This year Fungie celebrates his 31st year anniversary in Dingle. Cheers for sticking round big guy! The Dingle locals will help heal your broken heart!