by Cathleen O’Grady/This article is from Hakai Magazine, an online publication about science and society in coastal ecosystems. Read more stories like this at hakaimagazine.com.
Back when Ireland still had lighthouse keepers, the town of Dingle had a watchful one. Paddy Ferriter was a man who preferred the company of his dogs to that of most people. Through the autumn and winter of 1983, Ferriter had spotted a fellow loner in the water: a dolphin, following the fishing boats. Swimmers say they began cavorting with the dolphin in 1984.
Today, Fungie the dolphin still favors Dingle Harbor, a nick in Ireland’s westernmost peninsula. In a typical summer—one not ravaged by a global pandemic, as the summer of 2020 will be—thousands of tourists take boat trips to see him leap alongside their vessels. When the tourist traffic dwindles in winter, a small group of swimmers regularly heads out into the icy water to play with him. Floating just ahead of me on a gloomy day in October is one of them, Abi Dillon, keeping a sharp eye out for the dolphin.
I roll onto my back and spin around slowly to take in the town, the sea, the green buoy where the dolphin tends to linger. The old lighthouse stands atop the cliffs above. Beyond the harbor, the ocean surges and heaves, turquoise where it crashes ...read more: