Hurricane Shark

Hurricane Shark

Part of a series on 2012 Hurricane Sandy. [View Related Entries]

Updated Sep 12, 2017 at 04:05PM EDT by Matt.

Added Sep 12, 2017 at 02:44PM EDT by Matt.

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Hurricane Shark refers to an illegitimate photograph of a shark swimming on a city highway. The photograph has been used during multiple natural disasters and floods, warning people that sharks are swimming through the flood waters.


During Hurricane Irene in August 2011, a viral photograph of shark swimming through flood waters in Puerto Rico began circulating. On August 25th, the website Ego TV[1] posted the photo (shown below) with the caption:

"This picture was taken in Puerto Rico shortly after Hurricane Irene ravaged the island. Yes, that’s a shark swimming down the street next to a car, and this is exactly why authorities in NYC are warning people not to go swimming in flood waters after a hurricane. Sharks go where fish go, and fish go where water goes, and if that water (and those subsequent fish) happen to be right outside your front door, then guess where that freakin’ shark’s going to be?!"


On August 29th, 2011, the fact checking site Snopes [2] confirmed the picture as a hoax. Snopes outlines the many times the picture has circulated during natural disasters. They write:

"Since then the same image has been recirculated several times over, typically localized to some big city in the United States that has just experienced a hurricane or other weather event producing heavy rains and floods. Its most recent iterations assigned it to Houston after heavy rains pounded portions of Texas over Memorial Day weekend in 2015, Daytona Beach after Hurricane Matthew approached Florida in October 2016, and Houston again in August 2017 after Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey caused massive flooding throughout the city."

The photograph is a heavily photoshopped version of a famous photograph (shown below) entitled "The Follower."[3] Originally appearing in a September 2005 issues of African Geographic,[4] the picture features a shark pursuing a person in a kayak.

Sitting in a 3.8-metre sea kayak and watching a four-metre great white approach you is a fairly tense experience

On August 28th, Fox News correspondent Jesse Watters referred to the photograph of the hurricane shark. He compared it to the film Sharknado.

On August 28th, Twitter [5] user @Jeggit posted the picture with the caption "Believe it or not, this is a shark on the freeway in Houston, Texas. #HurricaneHarvy." The post (shown below, left) received more than 88,000 retweets and 149,000 like.

Two weeks later, on September 10th, during Hurricane Irma, Twitter[6] user @mopage19 reposted the photo. The post (shown below, right) received more than 5,200 retweets and 11,700 likes.

Several news outlets covered the hoax, including the New York Times,[7] TIME,[8] USA Today,[9] and more. Twitter[10] published a Moments page about the hoax on September 11th.

Believe it or not, this is a shark on the freeway in Houston, Texas. #HurricaneHarvy A shark photographed on l-75 just outside of Naples, FL This is insane. #Hurricanelrma

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