DESPITE claims that he had been spotted by fishermen, Fungie the Dingle dolphin is still on the missing list.
Concern is growing for the much-loved bottlenosed mammal who has not been seen since Monday, according to locals in Dingle who fear for his welfare.
Several boats have been out since first light this Saturday searching for the town’s best known resident who has lived in Dingle Harbour since 1983.
The vessels are scanning a 10-mile mile area outside the harbour but fishermen are growing increasingly concerned for his safety given that he very rarely leaves the mouth of the harbour.
Worries are mounting despite claims from Dingle Sea Safari yesterday that reports of Fungie being missing were not true.
In a Facebook post, the group said Fungie was spotted on Friday morning by a local fisherman but other boatmen who organise daily trips to see the playful dolphin insist he has vanished without trace.
Fungie is a solitary creature and prefers to stay on his own and there is some speculation that he may be sheltering from a pod of dolphins that has been spotted in the area in the past week.
First spotted in the local harbour in 1983 by lighthouse keeper Paddy Ferriter, Fungie has helped put the small fishing town on the international map and he has attracted tens of thousands of visitors to west Kerry.
The VIP bottlenosed resident is held in such high esteem that locals have even erected a bronze statue in his honour and, aside of money-spinning hourly sightseeing trips, his image is also used for mechandise and souvenirs which have found their way to all parts of the world.
Fungie, who is believed to reside in a small cave under cliffs, had been ever-present to welcome boats, trawlers and yachts and after straying from his pod, he has been Dingle’s official ambassador for almost 40 years.
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