Irish Sister City's Famous Dolphin Mascot Goes Missing

Fungie showing off his skills in 2017 (Photo: Duloup/wikipedia) title=
Fungie showing off his skills in 2017 (Photo: Duloup/wikipedia)
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By Lauren Bray, edhat staff

It's a sad time for the small seaside fishing town of Dingle, the Irish sister-city to Santa Barbara.

Earlier this week, residents report the town's marine mascot for 37 years, Fungie the Bottlenose Dolphin, has gone missing. The single dolphin has lived at the entrance to Dingle's harbor since 1983 and is a focus of the town's tourism industry. He even holds a Guinness World Records title-holder for the "longest recorded solitary dolphin."

Dingle boasts dolphin tours, dolphin hats, dolphin shirts, dolphin pens, a dolphin memorial, and even a dolphin sculpture coming out of a building. They even have a dolphin statue resembling those in Santa Barbara that was created by our very own Bud Bottoms. 


Fungie statue created by Bud Bottoms in the Dingle town square. (Photo: Wikipedia)

I traveled to Dingle in 2017 and spoke with many locals about their love of Fungie. The owner of the Bed & Breakfast I stayed at explained Fungie would closely follow the boats of the fisherman. Over the years he grew more comfortable with human contact and according to the locals would put on great shows with his dolphin acrobatics.

Fungie was last seen on October 15 when he swam alongside a fisherman's boat. On Monday, October 19, locals helped coordinate an extensive search, according to CNN.

"It is totally out of character for him. The most he has ever disappeared for was four or five hours," Jimmy Flannery, chairperson of Dingle Dolphin Boat Tours, told CNN. "We had 12 boats searching by Saturday, and on Sunday, divers from the Mallow Search and Rescue team carried out an extensive search of the coves and inlets where he would normally be seen. They also carried out a sonar scan of the seabed, but there was no trace."

There are many theories as to why Fungie has disappeared. It could be due to increased COVID-19 restrictions in Ireland that may have signaled something was wrong as boats and tours were not operating as they used to.

It also could simply be his time to sail into the golden sunset. Fungie is at least 37 years old and male bottlenose dolphins have a life expectancy of between 30 to 40 years. 

"Fungie is a part of all of our lives," Flannery said. "We are hoping that he has swam off on an adventure. We live in hope that he might come back again."

Related Article

 March 17, 2018: Santa Barbara's Sister-City - Dingle, Ireland

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REX OF SB Oct 25, 2020 10:41 AM
Irish Sister City's Famous Dolphin Mascot Goes Missing

Here's the full scoop, as Nick Welsh reported in the April 29, 2020, Independent:

https://www.independent.com/2020/04/29/santa-barbara-city-council-unwittingly-declares-war-on-irish-seaport/

dukemunson Oct 25, 2020 08:50 AM
Irish Sister City's Famous Dolphin Mascot Goes Missing

We sent some stiffs to Dingle and we had/have some stiffs on the board... I DEMAND THAT OUR SISTER CITY COUNCIL ALL IMMEDIATELY APOLOGIZE AND RESIGN... AND THAT WE BEG DINGLE TO TAKE US BACK!!!!!! I for one will be sipping a Guinness Tonight (at the correct Temperature of course) In solidarity with my Dingle brothers and sisters!!!

Notthatbad Oct 25, 2020 10:11 AM
Irish Sister City's Famous Dolphin Mascot Goes Missing

Exactly. You don’t cause international chaos/hurt feelings just because your audience was somewhere else and you didn’t feel like finding them. Or whatever the heck truly happened.

dukemunson Oct 25, 2020 09:45 AM
Irish Sister City's Famous Dolphin Mascot Goes Missing

Agreed...I just gotta hear more of this story!!! What style of poetry was planned/penned? When the poets showed up at the pub and only 4 people were there did they bitterly And spitefully order Coronas ? Was any new poetry born from this deep and painful injustice the poets felt from their lack of rapturous audience ?????

dukemunson Oct 25, 2020 08:56 AM
Irish Sister City's Famous Dolphin Mascot Goes Missing

We must fight this injustice! I’ve never been to single but I did once meet a Dingle’ing and... well... I don’t remember much from that night but my general impression was positive!!!!!! Which is a quite better impression than I’ve gotten from my few encounters with our own local officials!!!!

bradleybennett Oct 25, 2020 08:17 AM
Irish Sister City's Famous Dolphin Mascot Goes Missing

The Indy ran an article back in Apt 2020 about the dissolved relationship with Dingle. https://www.independent.com/2020/04/29/santa-barbara-city-council-unwittingly-declares-war-on-irish-seaport/

Notthatbad Oct 24, 2020 09:09 PM
Irish Sister City's Famous Dolphin Mascot Goes Missing

Completely agree. We found the news puzzling and disappointing. Would love to understand what happened. Who knows what Dingle had to put up with from us?? Weird our delegation was so upset.

dukemunson Oct 24, 2020 09:06 PM
Irish Sister City's Famous Dolphin Mascot Goes Missing

I’m truly and desperately fascinated by this Sorry!!!! what happened in 2018 in Dingle???? Who did we send and how did it go so poorly that as soon as the “delegation” got back they strongly recommended we find A new city????!!! If Edhat was made for anything... it was made for the story of the Irish Debacle in Dingle in 2018!!!!!!!!

Notthatbad Oct 24, 2020 11:51 AM
Irish Sister City's Famous Dolphin Mascot Goes Missing

Sorry to say I don’t believe Dingle remains a sister city of Santa Barbara — caught the city council meeting in April when those relations were dissolved through vote.

Still appreciate some Dingle news, though!

Notthatbad Oct 25, 2020 12:39 PM
Irish Sister City's Famous Dolphin Mascot Goes Missing

To be fair, the article essentially states that we changed the rules on Dingle. We got rid of them.

As far as the couple... I must say I don’t understand. This is is a very small town. Population about 2,000. What were we expecting?

Either way, Springfield, MA seems very happy with Dingle as their new sister:

https://www.masslive.com/news/2017/12/the_city_of_west_springfield_h.html

a-1603645625 Oct 25, 2020 10:07 AM
Irish Sister City's Famous Dolphin Mascot Goes Missing

Duke, google is your friend. Independent has past articles about the visit and the extent of the local Dingle Sister Cities operation - apparently a sole couple with no wider community connections. Sister Cities has qualifications for participation which apparently were no longer met.

dukemunson Oct 24, 2020 07:40 PM
Irish Sister City's Famous Dolphin Mascot Goes Missing

Now that is a fun linked read !!! “The delegation that visited In 2018 didn’t feel that welcome”. I demand a back story!!!! Who did Santa Barbara send? And how were we not made to feel welcome? Did they leave our “delegation” with a big bar tab or what???? Common... who’s got the inside Dingle scoop????

macpuzl Oct 24, 2020 04:53 PM
Irish Sister City's Famous Dolphin Mascot Goes Missing

Here it is, in the January meeting minutes:
https://www.santabarbaraca.gov/SBdocuments/Advisory_Groups/Sister_Cities_Board/Current/05_Minutes/2020-01-29_Sister_Cities_Minutes_01-29-20.pdf

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