Flipping panic | 

Comment: We're at all at sea as Fungie the dolphin goes missing

"Since first being spotted in the area in 1983, he’s come to represent everything Covid-19 does not: fun, freedom, frolicking with friends"

Fungie the dolphin

Deirdre Reynolds

If you haven’t drunkenly straddled Dingle’s word-famous statue of Fungie, have you ever been on staycation?

Amid the Budget and ban on household visitors, the celebrity dolphin caused a splash by going AWOL this week.

And, flip me, if we didn’t all lose our minds over the possibility that the bottlenose could be bobbing belly up somewhere in the Atlantic.

“Fungie is missing,” mourned one Twitter user. “That’s it 2020. I have had enough.”

“End 2020 now,” wailed another. “Can’t go on like this.”

Santa Claus, orange Twirls, Mr Tayto: take anyone – or anything – the people of Ireland beseeched, other than the nation’s favourite cetacean.

Fears for the mammal’s safety were first floated on the ‘Fungie Forever Photos of the Dingle Dolphin’ Facebook page on Thursday.

By Friday night, it was panic stations, as the ongoing search for one of the country’s biggest tourist attractions made RTÉ’s Nine O’Clock News.

As the campaign to #FindFungie ramped up, local fishermen moved to calm the waters by explaining how the solitary dolphin could just be heeding advice to social distance after another pod moved into the bay.

“I’m not convinced he has met his demise at this stage,” Jimmy Flannery threw a fresh lifebuoy of hope yesterday.

“He doesn’t like interacting with dolphins, so possibly it is just a thing that there is a lot of activity around and he is just keeping his head down.”

Fungie the dolphin poses for a photograph

“[We don’t] need more bad news, we’ve had enough. So I’m hopeful.”

Still, in the age of QAnon and #TrumpCovidHoax, it didn’t take long for the conspiracy theories to surface.

Even two reported sightings did nothing to supress age-old speculation that there’s more than one Fungie (Fungi?).

“Fungie 5 is alive,” posted one conspiracist.

“Swap him for another dolphin,” agreed a second. “The kids will never notice.”

Splashing freely in the North Atlantic Ocean for the past four decades, it’s no wonder we’re all clinging on to the mere mirage of Fungie in these locked-down times.

Since first being spotted in the area in 1983, he’s come to represent everything Covid-19 does not: fun, freedom, frolicking with friends.


If it really is ‘la fin’ for the dophin, however, for once we can’t blame this scourge of a calendar year.

At an estimated 40 years old, and the second-oldest solitary dolphin in the world, he’s had a good (f)innings.

Perhaps a €23m robot dolphin currently being developed for Chinese aquariums could be the answer for tourism bosses in the Kingdom.

Until then, let’s just hope that, like the rest of us, Fungie simply had a pain in his blowhole with the latest restrictions – and is gone fishing.

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