A large part of the Dingle, Ireland economy is based on a lone bottle-nosed dolphin named Fungie. No less than eight large boats full of eager tourists will mill about in the harbor hoping that Fungie will soon be sighted. Boats refund your ticket price if there is no Fungie sighting. Immediately upon spotting Fungie, which seems to be a near certainty, all the boats speed forward, creating a wake from each boat hoping Fungie will choose their wake for surfing and jumping, providing paying guests with the best view. It is a hokey but fun time, waiting for Fungie to suddenly appear, then the shouts of delighted tourists as the boats speed off, another successful day in the Fungie business.
Fungie was first spotted around 1984 in Dingle harbor by the lighthouse keeper and who noticed how the dolphin seemed to escort the boats in and out of the harbor. Initially there was no real interaction, but Fungie eventually started having close human contact playing with the swimmers, divers, canoers, windsurfers and children paddling about from the small adjacent beach. However, playing in the wake of the boats seems to be Fungie’s main pastime. The town of Dingle is so happy to have this 13 foot 500 pound dolphin in its harbor, Fungie is now recorded as a permanent resident of the harbor. Long live Fungie …… for the sake of the tour companies!
How long do they live? Maybe this is a son.
The normal life span of this type of dolphin is 45 to 50 years. However, Fungie lives in a protected harbor with a narrow entrance that the fishermen say keep sharks out. So without natural predators and a good food supply, Fungie may live longer. Dolphins normally live in groups and it is not clear why Fungie lives alone in the Dingle Harbor.