Look, maybe it’s just me being a sap, but there has been something wonderfully moving about the efforts of the people of Dingle to find their friend, mascot, and tourist-friendly local attraction over the past few days. Nothing less than a naval task force was assembled at the end of the Dingle Peninsula to search the bay for the Dolphin who has lived there since the early 1980s.

But so far, nothing. And it’s not looking good:

A team of divers has carried out an extensive search for Fungie, but there is still no sign of the much-loved Dingle dolphin.

The famous sea mammal has been missing for over five days now.

There is mounting concern for the wellbeing of the dolphin, who has been an ever-present feature at the mouth of Dingle Harbour since 1983.

Today a team of divers from Mallow Search and Rescue travelled to Dingle to assist in the search. The divers focused on the coves and caves normally frequented by Fungie. A sonar scan was also undertaken at the mouth of Dingle Harbour.

Local boatman, Gary Brosnan who facilitated the sonar scan on his boat Mám an Óraigh said he was relieved that nothing was found.

“There’s still hope. If Fungie has died there’s a good chance we’d have found him in one of the inlets or caves. No news is good news,” said Mr Brosnan

“The divers did a fantastic job and the sonar scan was very effective. At one stage the sonar showed us a dark object lying on the seabed. It was about four metres and was shaped just like a dolphin. We were sure it was him. Thankfully, when the divers went down, it turned out to be a smooth rock,” he added.

No Fungie, but no corpse, either. You can look at it one of two ways: Either he’s alive and well, and will return, or he’s died, but been swept out to sea. Personally, I’d love to be an optimist, but it’s not looking good. If he has passed away, it’s looking less likely that his body will be recovered, which makes the loss all the greater.

We don’t know exactly how old Fungie is, but certainly, at a minimum age of about forty, his death from natural causes would not be a shock. In terms of straws in the wind, this comment from some of those who’ve watched him the longest is concerning:

Their last photo of Fungie was posted on Saturday, October 10th and one the previous day shows him taking a short cut close to the cliffs in the harbour.

They also reported their belief that he looked tired on October 7th. “It was very clear the last weeks that Fungie was tired of the busy season. His whole behaviour showed that,” they say.

Jimmy Flannery of Dingle Sea Seafari Tours, a founder member of the fishermen’s group which set up the Fungie tours in 1989 said in his 33 years running trips to Fungie, four to five hours a day, this “is the most he has gone missing in 37 years of being in Dingle”.

Was it just tiredness, or was it something else? We may never know, unless they find a body, but the evidence, at this point in time, is starting to look like it was something more serious.

One thing about all of this, though, is that the conspiracy theories can be put to rest. Fungie was not multiple dolphins. They didn’t replace him every few years. If that was the case, why would they be looking for him like this?

With almost a week having passed since his last sighting, it’s starting to look likely that the old fella simply reached the end of the road. Hope still lives, but hope, at this point, is all that there is. It’s a pity he cannot know how much he is missed.