An image of a diver pushing the nose of a great white shark went viral in Australia over the weekend after a man posted it on the Perth & WA Fishing Reports Facebook page on Friday with a dubious description:
“My bro sent me this photo taken of a local diver near Augusta pushing away this great white with his glove on the nose.
“When done right it temporarily sedates the shark. My face would be not as apparently calm.”
The post created a considerable amount of attention, speculation and skepticism, and prompted Australian newspapers to address the legitimacy of the photo.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that “analysis of the photograph by a program that detects digital alterations suggests the photo has not been doctored.”
The paper also quoted a commenter that claimed the great white shark had been “tangled in the new abalone growing lines off Augusta,” adding that the diver was trying “to swim [revive] the exhausted beast for hours.”
The Herald described a process called tonic immobility in sharks where they can be placed in a stupor by turning them upside down or, in the case of tiger sharks, by placing hands lightly on the side of the animal’s snout.
— WAtoday (@WAtoday) August 29, 2016
The West Australian dug a little deeper, however, and uncovered the truth. It wasn’t a great white shark but a mako shark, and it was in fact dead, as many had suspected.
A similar image of a diver holding a huge shark was sent to The West Australian last month and the markings on the right side of the shark’s head indicate it is the same dead mako shark. The photo shows the diver untangling the shark from a line.
“Plenty of Facebook users were quick to swallow the sedate story—hook, line and sinker,” The West Australian wrote.
Indeed they did.
A spokesperson from Perth & WA Fishing Reports told GrindTV that its post drew 1.7 million views and more than 7,000 comments, and “at least more than half thought it was real.”
Perth & WA Fishing Reports subsequently took down the post at the request of Ben Chase, explaining to GrindTV “it is not his image and was a bit of a joke with him and his friends that unfortunately went viral.”
Or fortunately, depending on your point of view.
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