There are concerns for Fungi the Dingle dolphin – the world-famous marine mammal has been missing for two days without any sightings.
A Facebook page set up to follow the dolphin, called Fungi Forever, posted last night that members had been searching but could not find the dolphin.
It said it was feared “we have lost our best friend”.
But harbourmaster Nigel Collins told the Irish Independent he felt it was “too early” to worry that the dolphin, “a national treasure”, might have died.
“This year has been bad enough without jumping to conclusions that Fungi has died,” he said.
“It came to my attention Fungi has gone missing,” Mr Collins said. “But this has happened before, and usually he comes back a few days later.”
The beloved dolphin has captured the hearts of local people, fishermen and visitors to Dingle after entertaining sightseers for decades.
But there were concerns earlier this year that Fungi was getting older.
The bottlenose dolphin has lived in Dingle Bay in Co Kerry for over 37 years.
He is believed to be in his 40s, and the oldest living solitary dolphin in the world.
But still, Mr Collins wasn’t letting any of that worry him last night. “I heard a boat that went out a couple of days ago didn’t have a show and there was some concern,” he said.
“But it’s just too early for me to be too worried, given this has happened before.
“I hope he’s found, he’s a national treasure. Fungi is getting on in age, so when he disappears you wonder if this is the time. But he’s been in good spirits all summer.
“When he dies he will be missed so badly. But I remember a couple of years ago he was gone three or four days,” Mr Collins said.
“He’s been very active all summer, not like a sick dolphin, or one reaching the end of his life. People are missing him but I hope he’ll be back.”
A post on the Facebook page read: “Sadness… We have all known that the day would come when Fungi would not show up in his beloved bay.
“We are all keeping hope for a miracle but the bay feels really empty without him…. Fungi was part of our life for 29 years.”
Fungi was reported to have been lonely during the Covid-19 lockdown, when leisure boats and sightseeing trips were banned, as he had been so accustomed to entertaining tourists.