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nothing to sea here Dolphin spotted off coast of Kinsale is NOT Fungie, experts say

Broken-hearted fans of the celebrity dolphin were given a ray of hope that the bottlenose dolphin spotted off the coast of Kinsale in recent days was their beloved Fungie.

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Fungi the dolphin in the Dingle Peninsula on the Kerry coast of Ireland. Photo: Sean Manion/Photocall Ireland

Fungi the dolphin in the Dingle Peninsula on the Kerry coast of Ireland. Photo: Sean Manion/Photocall Ireland

Fungi the dolphin in the Dingle Peninsula on the Kerry coast of Ireland. Photo: Sean Manion/Photocall Ireland

A friendly bottlenose dolphin seen frolicking around Kinsale, Co Cork, is probably not the world-famous Fungie but an imposter or copycat, according to a leading ocean research team.

Broken-hearted fans of the celebrity dolphin that vanished from his longtime haunt in Dingle harbour last October were given a ray of hope that the bottlenose dolphin spotted off the coast of Kinsale in recent days was their beloved Fungie.

But Emer Keaveney, a marine mammal ecologist and executive director of Ocean Research and Conservation Ireland (ORCA Ireland) said a detailed comparison of photos of Fungie and the solitary dolphin spotted in Cork reveals they are different dolphins, despite displaying similar behaviour.

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Fungie greets delighted tourists (PA)

Fungie greets delighted tourists (PA)

Fungie greets delighted tourists (PA)

Fungie has grey cheeks while the cheeks of the other dolphin are whiter, indicating that it is a juvenile.

While they are not ruling out the possibility that the dolphin spotted in Cork may be the son or daughter of Fungie, it is more likely to be a copycat, mimicking Fungie’s trademark playfulness, she said.

Fungie, whose mysterious disappearance from Dingle harbour last October drew headlines around the world, was renowned for his playful interaction with humans, which is rare for wild dolphins.

And after another solitary bottlenose was filmed interacting with boats in Kinsale Harbour on Sunday, speculation mounted that Fungie had returned.

"Solitary dolphins aren’t that common,” Ms Keaveny said.

"I know people are missing Fungie, but it’s not looking like it.”

Nevertheless, she said the flurry of excitement and calls to ORCA Ireland has been encouraging in that people are reporting such spottings, which is good news.

"It highlights the importance of having observers. It’s brilliant to see the reaction,” she said.

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And as for Fungie - who may have died from old age after featuring in the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest solitary wild dolphin at an estimated age of 40 in 2019 – he was or continues to be an inspiration for others of his species, she added.

"We’re all missing Fungie but he’s a mascot for other bottlenose dolphins,” she said.

Meanwhile, ORCA Ireland is encouraging anyone who spots a dolphin to log any encounters to #FindFungie.

"It’s not just Fungie that’s important, they’re all important,” she said.



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