There may be a new kid on the block but Fungie is still the dolphin king of Kerry – to the amazement of marine biologists.
The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group have confirmed the arrival of Clet, a younger male bottlenose dolphin, into Dingle Bay this week.
But Fungie is still the main attraction for the thousands of tourists who visit the historic town every year to get a glimpse of the harbor’s most famous resident, now 31 years in situ.
And a report in the Sunday Independent newspaper confirms that marine biologists are baffled as to why Fungie has remained in Dingle since a local lighthouse keeper first spotted him in 1983.
Experts told the paper that they are amazed the 300kg mammal has stayed as this is not consistent with dolphin behavior.
Irish Whale and Dolphin Group spokesman Padraig Whooley told the Sunday Independent: “Dolphins are complex creatures and we’re learning about them the whole time, but we know they are highly mobile and do tend to move around a lot.
“Fungie’s different to most in that he is sociable and seems to like the attention he gets. It’s highly unusual for a bottlenose dolphin to have remained in the same area for so long. He’s a freak in many ways.”
The arrival of Clet from West Cork this week will present tourists with a dilemma.
Experts have re-issued warnings to swimmers to keep their distance from Clet with the paper reporting that he has a very different temperament to Fungie.Whooley told the paper that it will be fascinating to see if there is any interaction between the two dolphins if Clet remains in Kerry.
But he expects Clet, previously tracked in France and England, to move on.
He added: “We’ve had two confirmed sightings around Valentia island and it’s no great surprise as these animals are highly mobile and he could move up to Galway or even the Hebrides fairly soon.
“Dolphins tend to go to places where there’s a lot of traffic and things have quietened down a lot in west Cork recently, so that’s probably why Clet has moved up to Dingle Bay.
“At the moment Clet and Fungie are at opposite sides of Dingle Bay, but it’s entirely possible they are aware of each other and are communicating by acoustics.
“It is unlikely that the two animals will fight as dolphins are not territorial. It would only be likely the two of them would fall out if they were competing for the attention of a female.
“But Fungie could be 40 to 50 years old at this stage and is unlikely to be interested in mating.”