Email that includes an image depicting a large shark jumping at a helicopter claims that the photograph was nominated by National Geographic as “The photo of the year”.
The image is not a genuine photograph. Instead it is a combination of two entirely unrelated photographs. And the hoax image certainly was not nominated by National Geographic as “The photo of the year”.
Although this looks like a picture taken from a Hollywood movie, it is in fact a real photo, taken near the South African coast during a military exercise by the British Navy.It has been nominated by National Geographic as “The photo of the year”.
This photograph supposedly depicts a very large shark leaping out of the water to attack a crewmember suspended on a ladder beneath a Navy helicopter. However, the image is in fact a combination of two entirely unrelated photographs. Both the helicopter with dangling crewmember and the breaching shark are real photographs, but they were not taken at the same time or at the same location.
Back in 2001, a prankster apparently created the composite image using two genuine photographs and it has been circulating sporadically ever since, along with a plausible cover story.
The photograph of the helicopter was taken by Lance Cheung during a military exercise in San Francisco and shows a HH-60G Pave Hawk US Air Force helicopter. The Golden Gate Bridge is clearly visible in the photograph’s background. The prankster has reversed the original helicopter image to better suit his or her creation.
The photograph of the leaping shark was taken by photographer Charles Maxwell in False Bay, South Africa. The same photograph can be seen on Charles Maxwell’s website.
The description that accompanies the hoax picture claims that it was nominated by National Geographic as “The photo of the year”. Of course, this claim is as fake as the image itself. In response, National Geographic published an article denying the “photo of the year” claim and debunking the hoax.
Although the image is a hoax, it is nevertheless a remarkable piece of work. Most likely, it will continue to circulate for years to come.
Last updated: 14th April 2010
First published: 27th June 2007
By Brett M. Christensen