For years, there has been a deluge of fake videos and memes after major storms that claim to show sharks swimming in flooded streets. So when a video purporting to show a shark in an inundated backyard in Fort Myers, Fla., surfaced during Hurricane Ian this week, gathering millions of views on Twitter, viewers were skeptical.
But this time, the recording was real — even if there is no confirmation yet that what it depicted was a shark, according to Storyful, which first authenticated the video, and the Associated Press. The news agencies interviewed Dominic Cameratta, a real estate agent who filmed it with his cellphone, and reviewed the clip’s metadata to confirm it was recorded this week.
The video shows a fish that looks to be 4 feet long, with sharp dorsal fins, flipping and flopping in the water. “I didn’t know what it was,” Cameratta said. “I zoomed in, and all my friends were like, ‘It’s like a shark, man!’”
Experts interviewed by the AP voiced mixed opinions on whether it was indeed a shark. George Burgess, a former director of the Florida Museum of Natural History’s shark program, said the fish appears to be a juvenile shark. But Neil Hammerschlag, the director of the University of Miami’s shark conservation program, said it was difficult to tell what it was.
Images purportedly showing sharks in urban areas after hurricanes and major floods have been repeatedly debunked since at least 2011, according to Snopes, a fact-checking website.
One image of a shark swimming along a flooded highway was uploaded after Hurricane Irene hit Puerto Rico in August 2011. The same image has been widely recirculated after subsequent storms in different areas: In 2016, it was in Daytona Beach, Fla.; a year later, in Houston; and in 2018, it was in Wrightsville Beach, N.C.
Snopes reported that the original image from 2011 also was a hoax. It incorporated a 2005 photograph of a kayaker being trailed by a great white shark.
Hurricane Ian has devastated Florida, killing at least 23 people, according to state officials. It made its second landfall in the United States on Friday, hitting coastal South Carolina as a Category 1 storm with lashing rains and strong winds.