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Behind the fake shark photo that keeps showing up during hurricanes

Dylan Stableford
Senior Editor

Shortly after Hurricane Irma tore into South Florida on Sunday, Maury Page, a photographer from Michigan, posted to Twitter an image of a shark that appeared to be swimming in floodwaters along an interstate highway.

“A shark photographed on I-75 just outside of Naples, FL,” Page tweeted. “This is insane. #HurricaneIrma.”

The image was retweeted more than 5,400 times and marked as a favorite 12,000 times more.

Curiously, the same shark has been showing up on Twitter during major storms since at 2011, when it first appeared on a street in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Irene.

It appeared again in New York in 2012 during Superstorm Sandy, in South Carolina in 2015 during Hurricane Joaquin, in Florida in 2016 during Hurricane Matthew and, most recently, in Texas last month during Hurricane Harvey.

That is one well-traveled shark.

But while the shark may have been real, the image of it swimming along a flood-ravaged road is fake.

According to Snopes.com, the original image of the shark appears to have been taken from a 2005 Africa Geographic article titled “Shark Detectives,” which featured a kayaker being trailed by a great white.

“Sitting in a 3.8-metre sea kayak and watching a four-metre great white approach you is a fairly tense experience,” reads a caption on the original photo.

Sitting inside your car on a flooded roadway and seeing a shark swimming alongside you would be a fairly tense experience too.

Alas, it has never happened.

Page, who shared the image during Irma, apparently knew that when he did.

“Any idea what that is really from?” one person tweeted in response.

“Photoshop,” Page replied.

Jason Michael McCann, a Dublin-based journalist who shared the image during Harvey, said he knew it was fake when he did too.

“Of course I knew it was fake,” McCann told BuzzFeed. “What I had expected was to tweet that and have my 1,300 followers in Scotland to laugh at it. This was, of course, the intent.”

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