Fungie is officially the longest living solitary dolphin on the planet, according to the Second Edition of a report which was first launched in 2008. Since his arrival into Dingle, Co Kerry, 35 years ago, the now middle-aged bottlenose dolphin has become a national treasure.
The new Lone Rangers report has catalogued a global list of 114 solitary whales and dolphins which interact with humans with the oldest record dating back to 109AD when a pair of dolphins in Tunisia befriended a young boy. The Marine Connection study, a charity which protects dolphins and whales, examined the phenomenon of the sociable marine mammals who enjoy human company.
They have defined these mammals as dolphins or whales who have little or no contact with their own species and “who regularly closely approach humans, often including touch, social, sexual, play, and aggressive or boisterous behaviours”. These cases occur everywhere from Ireland to as far away as the Bahamas and New Zealand but Fungie is the longest known solitary animal of his type to interact with humans in the world.
The much-loved dolphin has become a household name and arguably the most widely known Kerry resident since 1984. His unwavering presence for the past four decades has sprung up an entire industry of boat operators who have motored thousands of visitors out to see him.
The report, co-authored by Lissa Goodwin and Margaux Dodds, said he is the longest-known solitary/ social dolphin on record.
“Fungie is a very engaging dolphin who has become an international phenomenon with people travelling from near and far just to catch a sight of this enigmatic marine mammal”, said Marine Connection director Margaux Dodds.
“Who knows why he has chosen to remain in this beautiful sheltered bay for decades, but the town is, I am sure, pleased he has.”