Behind the fake shark photo that keeps showing up during hurricanes

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.

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Precious items found as floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey recede
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Precious items found as floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey recede
Jon and Pamela Shaffer's 1984 wedding album is seen infested with mold in the aftermath of tropical storm Harvey in west Houston, Texas, U.S. September 11, 2017. "It's hard to let go of these things, just pack stuff up and hope for the best," said Pamela. The Shaffer's home flooded after controlled releases from Addicks Reservoir and neighboring Barker reservoir. REUTERS/Chris Aluka Berry
Jon Shaffer salvages what he can from his home, which was flooded for twelve days, in the aftermath of tropical storm Harvey in west Houston, Texas, U.S. September 11, 2017. Shaffer's home flooded after controlled releases from Addicks Reservoir and neighboring Barker reservoir. REUTERS/Chris Aluka Berry
A volunteer helps clean out the home of Jon and Pamela Shaffer in the aftermath of tropical storm Harvey in west Houston, Texas, U.S. September 11, 2017. The Shaffer's home flooded after controlled releases from Addicks Reservoir and neighboring Barker reservoir. REUTERS/Chris Aluka Berry
Pamela Shaffer photographs a portrait from her 1984 wedding in the aftermath of tropical storm Harvey in west Houston, Texas, U.S. September 11, 2017. "It's hard to let go of these things, just pack stuff up and hope for the best," said Pamela. Shaffer's home flooded after controlled releases from Addicks Reservoir and neighboring Barker reservoir. REUTERS/Chris Aluka Berry
A pile of dolls rest in a chair in Ginger Benfield's backyard in the aftermath of tropical storm Harvey in west Houston, Texas, U.S. September 11, 2017. Benfield's home flooded after controlled releases from Addicks Reservoir and neighboring Barker reservoir. REUTERS/Chris Aluka Berry
Ginger Benfield works to save family photos in the aftermath of tropical storm Harvey in west Houston, Texas, U.S. September 11, 2017. "Memories are the hardest thing, but at least they are in your heart," said Benfield. Benfield's home flooded after controlled releases from Addicks Reservoir and neighboring Barker reservoir. REUTERS/Chris Aluka Berry
Savannah Shaffer (L) hugs her mother Pamela Shaffer after finding a pair of boots that weren't damaged by the flooding in the aftermath of tropical storm Harvey in west Houston, Texas, U.S. September 11, 2017. "We celebrate every victory," said Pamela. The Shaffer's home flooded after controlled releases from Addicks Reservoir and neighboring Barker reservoir. REUTERS/Chris Aluka Berry
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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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