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Shark swimming on flooded highway? No, image photoshopped

“Believe it or not, this is a shark on the freeway in Houston, Texas. #HurricaneHarvy,” reads the text of what seems to be a screenshot of a Twitter post, shared on Facebook in South Africa in October 2019.

It shows a small shark swimming in water flowing alongside some kind of barrier. A rear-view mirror on the right suggests the image may have been snapped from a car.

Hurricane Harvey was a storm that hit the coast of Texas in late August 2017, carrying with it massive rainfall and causing severe flooding across the US state.

The Twitter handle in the graphic is @K4RespectsWomen. But that Twitter account doesn’t exist. And the @K4RespectsWomen tag seems to be the subject of an obscure Twitter argument.

Photo of great white shark in open sea

The graphic isn’t a real screenshot of a Twitter post. But is the photo real? Sort of – but it’s been manipulated.

Using a reverse image search, we found the original photo in a September 2005 edition of Africa Geographic magazine.

The photo shows a large shark – a great white – swimming towards a man in a kayak canoe.

Its caption reads: “Sitting in a 3.8-metre sea kayak and watching a four-metre great white approach you is a fairly tense experience.”

The image in the graphic on Facebook has been photoshopped to make it seem that the shark was swimming on a flooded highway.

‘Sleek silhouette of large great white’

The original photo was taken by biologist Thomas P Peschak, a co-author of the article in Africa Geographic.

“The story of this particular photograph began on a perfectly calm and glassy sea,” Peschak writes on his website.

“The first shark came across our sea kayak, dove to the seabed, and inspected it from below. I trained my camera on the nebulous shadow as it slowly transformed into the sleek silhouette of a large great white. When the shark’s dorsal fin emerged, I thought I had the shot but hesitated a fraction of a second.

“In that moment, the research assistant in the kayak, Trey Snow, turned to look behind him, and I took the shot. Throughout the day I shot many more similar images, but all lacked the connection of the first image.” – Taryn Willows


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