Beloved Kerry dolphin Fungie has been spotted by fishermen off Dingle days after he was reported missing.
The dolphin had not been seen since Monday, prompting fears for his welfare, but a local fisherman spotted him on Thursday, easing those fears.
A number of local boats had searched Dingle Bay for signs of the dolphin after he was reported missing and the Dingle Sea Safari Tours Facebook page confirmed the reassuring sighting.
"We can assure you we check on Fungie's wellbeing daily, from Fishermen, Fungie boats, and all his other friends and Fungie was alongside one of the Dingle Fishing boats yesterday morning," the group said on Facebook.
Paul Hand, the local fisherman who spotted the famous dolphin, said that he is "1000% certain" that it was Fungie.
FUNGIE . It has been brought to out attention that some upset has been caused by another page stating that Fungie had...Posted by Dingle Sea Safari Tours & Fungie Up Close And personal on Thursday, October 15, 2020
"I am one thousand percent certain it was Fungie. I've been looking at him for the last 40 years. It was definitely him. He swam alongside my boat for a spell as I headed out into the bay," Hand told RTÉ News.
He said that a number of younger dolphins had been spotted in Dingle Bay recently and that Fungie may have followed them out to sea in search of food and company.
"There's a lot of feeding going on and what's happening is Fungie's is following the fishing boats out into the bay and is deciding to stay feeding with the other dolphins," Hand said. "He is enjoying the company."
However, in a subsequent update shared on Friday, Dingle Sea Safari Tours said "We have to say at this stage it is very unusual for Fungie not to show himself for this length of time we will keep you updated as time goes on hopefully will have better news by later today."
FUNGIE Update. Last sighting of Fungie was by a Dingle fishing boat yesterday. Our Fungie boat have been out searching...Publiée par Dingle Sea Safari Tours & Fungie Up Close And personal sur Vendredi 16 octobre 2020
All boats in the area have now been asked to keep an eye out for the famous dolphin, who was first spotted off Dingle in 1983.
The Common Bottlenose Dolphin became a hit with tourists and locals alike due to his fondness for interacting with boats, fishermen, and sightseers.
He has actively sought out human contact during his time in Dingle Bay, making him a tourist sensation in southwest Ireland.
Fungie prefers to operate on his own and is thought to be the world's oldest solitary dolphin. Marine biologists believe that he is about 40 years old, far exceeding the average life expectancy of bottlenose dolphins, which is between eight and 17 years.