A photo of a shark swimming down a Puerto Rico street flooded by Hurricane Irene has been making the rounds online. It was posted on Reddit, picked up by Web sites and broadcast on a TV station in Miami, which is not surprising. I mean, a shark on the streets! This seems too cool to be true!
That’s because it is.
Google “shark,” and up pops a great photo of a shark stalking a kayak from a 2005 issue of Africa Geographic.. Commenters on Reddit, where the photo seems to have originated, quickly noted this and the very real similarities between the two sharks (note the small circular shadow just below the shark’s belly.)
Some sites have since realized their error. Neatorama, for example, has removed its story with the photo called “Thank you, Hurricane Irene: Shark in the street.” We’ve asked Channel 7 in Miami, which broadcast the user-submitted photo, if it plans to inform viewers about its fakeness. We will update this post if we hear back.
This phenomenon is nothing new. After the death of Osama bin Laden, a fake photo of his body circulated on Arab news outlets. When the earthquake hit Japan, photographs of a damaged church started circulating. The church was located in Christchurch, New Zealand.
What’s the lesson here? If you see a picture of a dolphin hanging out in Central Park after Irene moves through the East Coast this weekend, you may want to investigate it further.
More Hurricane Irene coverage from the Washington Post: