How to tell if a “shark in flooded city streets after a storm” photo is a fake in 5 easy steps


The combination of increasing extreme weather and social media has created, if you’ll pardon the pun, a perfect storm for sharing photos that show post-hurricane devastation (both real and fake). Many of them take the form of of a shark swimming through flooded city streets. For better or for worse, I’m known as “the shark guy” among my friends and family, which means that every time one of these pictures pops up, I get it e-mailed to me on the order of 50-100 times.

With the hopes of lightening my inbox and edu-ma-cating our loyal readers, presented below is a simple guide to determine if any given “shark after the storm” photo is fake.

1) Use your vast knowledge of shark biology to determine if a shark that size of that species could possibly be in water that deep.


The image above was one of the first “shark after a storm” pictures to go viral. It claimed to show a great white shark swimming through the flooded streets of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Irene in 2011. Take a look at how high the car’s side view mirror is above the water. That means the water level, while more than high enough to be destructive to cars and buildings, is not nearly high enough for a shark of that size to be comfortably swimming in. Also, great white sharks are not typically found in the Caribbean in August.

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So apparently it’s natural disaster week at Southern Fried Science

We’ve got Hurricane Irene bearing down on us from the south. It looks like it’s going to make landfall somewhere in the Carolina’s, possibly as a category 4. Thankfully, we’re no strangers to hurricanes down here, so we’re already prepped with an evacuation plan and a very gracious inland host willing to take in us and our goats. Thanks Craig!

Projected path of Hurricane Irene

We have a little less experience with earthquakes, like the 6.0 the just hit Virginia, that we felt all the way in coastal North Carolina.

We’ll be tracking the hurricane and updating everyone, via twitter. The hashtag is #Irene and we have a list of important NC Tweeps to follow if you live on the coast (@sfriedscientist/IreneNC).

Stay safe and remember, there’s no trying to reason with hurricane season.