Gone fishing Fears over Fungie's welfare are 'greatly exaggerated', Dingle biologist says
The disappearance of Ireland’s most famous dolphin in recent days is a simple case of “gone fishing...”
Concerns over Fungie the Dingle dolphin's welfare have been "greatly exaggerated," a Dingle biologist has said.
Social media posts raising the alarm about the much-loved dolphin’s whereabouts now appears to have prematurely predicted his passing.
Leading marine biologist, Kevin Flannery, who runs Dingle’s OceanWorld, said there is a very logical explanation for the bottlenose dolphin’s absence from the town’s harbour in recent days.
“Rumours of his demise have been greatly exaggerated”, said the leading scientist.
He explained the world's longest living solitary dolphin moved out of the bay for a few days due to a weather phenomenon.
“For the past few days we’ve had easterly wind. It clears the water, which is extremely beautiful, like the Caribbean, but fishermen always say you get no fish.
“Small fish can see big fish and they all run off because the water clarity is so clear.
“The plankton is also blown out into the Atlantic and there is no plankton-feeding fish like mackerel and sprat so therefore there is no predatory fish and all the fish move off so therefore he has moved off because he has to eat.
“He has just moved away from his usual realm while the easterly wind runs”
He said two of the Dingle fisherman saw the dolphin around a mile outside the bay on Thursday.
“He has just gone fishing off in deeper waters.
“If he doesn’t eat he doesn't survive. Two of the fisherman said they saw him on Thursday morning and Thursday evening about a mile outside his realm.”
He said the dolphin was seen in flying form last weekend before the wind blew into the Kerry village.
“Last weekend we have video footage of him with a humpback whale and a minke whale right outside the harbour and he was extremely active.
“If he is going to die he is going to die of starvation or some internal problem and he looked quite active last week.”
He said there was panic because the dolphin was missing from the harbour.
“That's the biological answer”.
The Irish dolphin is officially the longest living solitary in the world but it is hard to predict his life span.
“I recorded him in October 1983 and reported to the Natural History Museum.
“We won’t know his age until he dies and there is a post mortem carried out and they look at the vertebral column and the teeth.
“At this point he was well past 37 because he was a good young fella when he arrived here.
“Some people say wild dolphins can die very young or they can live to their 40s or 50s.”
Jimmy Flannery, from Dingle's Sea Safari Tours, said there were two sightings of the dolphin on Thursday.
"One fisherman saw him yesterday morning which was definite and there was a possible sighting yesterday evening of a fin", he said.
He said he knows there will come a day when Fungie no longer surfaces from the water.
"I've been doing this a long time and one of the days we got out there he's just not going to be there.
"I don't think he's gone, there were no signs.
"He was a bit quiet and I think with the easterly wind, he just doesn't want to show. I think he's going to show up."