Home Faux Images and Videos Shark Attacking Helicopter Photograph

Shark Attacking Helicopter Photograph

by Brett M. Christensen

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”.

Brief Analysis:
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”.
Shark Attacking Helicopter

Detailed Analysis:
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
About Hoax-Slayer

Shark “Photo of the Year” Is E-Mail Hoax
Charles Maxwell – Underwater Video Services

Importance Notice

After considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.

These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.

Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.

And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.

When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.

I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.

A Big Thank You

I would also like to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported the project by sharing information from the site, contributing examples of scams and hoaxes, offering suggestions, donating funds, or helping behind the scenes.

I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.

Closing Date

Hoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.

Thank you, one and all!

Brett Christensen,