Charting interactions between dolphins and people
Irish Dolphins - Interactions between dolphins and people.  Including Fungie the Dingle Dolphin
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Thursday 10th January, 2002

The enigma Nick asked me to write this one tonight as he felt he might be prejudiced in his perceptions of the swimming over the last week or so. For the last three years Fungie has developed a pattern of high-energy swims with swimmers and especially people on boogie boards, from late October through to the New Year. Then he would taper off around early January (mid-winter) as though going into hibernation to survive the remaining months of the cold weather.
Now Nick, being an intelligent man, and not one to miss a pattern has been expecting this drop-off in activity for the last week. Readers of the diary, and there are a few, will have noticed this in his writings as he wanders from 2 minutes blasts with Fungie to Blue whales in the Sea of Cortez. So there are some theorists out there who reckon that this behaviour might be pre-empting or even creating a decline in Fungieís activity.
Debate has started amongst the regular swimmers as to what may be causing the dolphins faltering interest in high-impact swims. The most plausible argument could be that fish are harder to catch in the colder waters and becoming scarcer. If much energy is spent catching food for survival then mere humans lying cold and spent on boogie boards might not be tempting enough. Boat activity is also decreasing as the larger fishing boats go out for longer periods and sports craft are almost non-existent. Although, saying this, there is a couple over from England at the moment that have spent long hours on the water by day following Fungie in their small, motorised inflatable. The waning enthusiasm in swimmers, due to factors like the cold, wind and rain might have some bearing. Suzanne being back at work and only able, at best, to swim twice a week has an impact, as she would have been the driving force behind a lot of the swims. Also Jenny is away in Sweden so that cuts the group in half. Jamie has just moved into a house with Sky Digital so we are unlikely to see him for a couple of months. That leaves Nick and the odd visitor. It continues to amaze how Fungie is able to attract people from afar. There is a steady stream of people, even in the bleak months that have swum with him before and canít wait to bob around in the Atlantic waiting for him to come over. At the moment Vinnie from Ipswich has saved up all her pennies to brave the weather and today she was blessed with an immediate appearance from Fungie and a quick spin. He then had a glance at me, and swam off again into the channel, probably laughing at the fact I only had one fin due to a disaster on the beach. The assumption is that he is feeding when he is out there but like so many questions and theories about the dolphin, and dolphins in general, there is no ironclad answer.

Hopefully the winter decline theory is exactly that and Fungie sparks back into his electric, spine tingling best.

Keith Buchanan
Date Posted: 10/01/2002
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