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DINGLE, Ireland — The summer visitors have gone and the winter rains and wind have reclaimed County Kerry, a remote and beautiful region in the southwest of Ireland. But the residents of Dingle, accustomed to all that, have an even bigger worry: Fungie, the resident male, bottlenose dolphin that helped transform it from a small fishing and farming community into a global tourist destination, has vanished after 37 years.
Two weeks after the last confirmed sighting of Fungie, boats still go out every day — storms and ocean swell permitting — to search the rocky coast for signs of the missing dolphin. At the narrow mouth of the harbor, where he spent most of his time, people with binoculars scan the waves for a glimpse of his dorsal fin. Yet, hope is diminishing.
Kevin Flannery, a marine biologist who built a popular aquarium on the back of the Fungie phenomenon, said the dolphin had gone missing before, but only ever for a day or two.
“That’s why the tourist boats could afford to offer you your money back if you went out and didn’t see him,” he said. “He was very reliable. This doesn’t look good.”
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