Fungie - the Dingle Dolphin

Fungi the Dingle Dolphin
Ag faire deilfeanna - dolphin watching

Dingle's most famous resident Fungie has been welcoming visitors to Dingle for over thirty years. This friendly bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) swims playfully alongside the boats in Dingle Harbour. Boat trips run from Dingle Harbour all year.

The Dingle Dolphin -- or Fungie, the name given to him by the fishermen -- is a fully grown, possibly middle aged, male bottlenose. He weighs in at around one-quarter tonne (500 lbs.) and measures in the region of four metres (13 feet). Although it is by no means unique to find these usually social, open creatures living alone in a "restricted" zone and befriending humans, it is still a relatively rare world event, and Fungie is Ireland's first recorded occurrence. From observation of (playful) body scarring it seems he does still frequently encounter other whales, dolphins or porpoises, proving perhaps he is neither true hermit nor outcast from his own kind, but rather that he is simply content with his current circumstances. No one really knows why some of these creatures suddenly take to a solitary way of life, but perhaps his persistence in maintaining it and physical conditions would at least indicate the area is a welcoming home with not too many natural dangers.

The working vessels that regularly cross the dolphin's chosen territory, remain his main priority, and it is a rare and special privilege when he remains with a vessel during their seaward or homeward passages. During the summer months Fungie is often seen taking fish in the harbour mouth. On several occasions he has been observed catching a fish commonly known as a "Garfish", a species which had not previously been recorded as part of a dolphin's diet. During the winter months he must travel further afield for his nourishment.

first sightings of Fungie

when Fungie was first seen in Dingle Harbour

In 1984, Paddy Ferriter, the Dingle Harbour lighthouse keeper, first began watching a lone wild dolphin escort the town's fishing boats to and from port. By August of that year, local Ministry of Marine manager Kevin Flannery was able to officially record the dolphin as a "permanent" resident of the entrance channel and self-appointed "pilot" of the fleet.

Playful and Friendly

playful nature of Fungie the Dolphin

Fungie the dolphin developed from a timid but inquisitive observer of the human visitors into a playful, though mischievous, companion. It also soon became apparent that having become accustomed to them, all humans, particularly females, would be welcome. Now each and every person receives the same special preferential treatment, be they swimmers, divers, canoeists, windsurfers, or children paddling from the small adjacent beach.

Celebrating Fungie

Bronze statue by James 'Bud' Bottoms

The friendly dolphin Fungie who swims playfully alongside the boats in Dingle Harbour has been immortalised in a bronze statue at the harbour front close to Dingle Pier. American sculptor and environmentalist James ‘Bud’ Bottoms (1928 - 2018) created this much loved bronze sculpture, as Dingle town’s Millennium project. Mr Bottoms who wrote children's books on ethics and campaigned for the environment lived in Santa Barbara, California, a sister city of Dingle.

Dingle Peninsula

Boat trips run from Dingle Harbour all year. Please see below for more details.

Dolphin Boat Trips 

Directory links to related businesses and providers on the Dingle Peninsula