By Pete Thomas
Photos circulating via social media show what's said to be a great white shark beneath 10-year-old Eden Hasson as he rides a wave near Newcastle, Australia.
The boy’s father, Chris Hasson, snapped photos as his son surfed the wave. After a look at his viewfinder, Chris called his son to the beach, fearing for his safety.
“It rolled over having a good look at his yummy yellow new wetsuit,” Chris Hasson is quoted by the Sydney Morning Herald.
Chris elaborated on Facebook: “Just as [Eden] is taking off I see something out of the corner of my eye. I keep shooting and after he finishes and starts paddling out I zoom in on the second photo and see he's just done a backhand snap on an 8-foot Great White Shark’s head.”
But shark aficionados became suspicious of the images. One marine biologist, who has exposed phony photos as frauds in the past, said the boy was not in danger because there was no shark in the wave.
“THIS IS NOT A SHARK!” reads the Facebook declaration by Drew Scerbo, scientific advisor to the White Shark Advocacy group. “It’s a duck-diving surfer on a white surfboard getting out of the way for the kid to catch his wave. You can easily see it if you imagine the surfer's hands on the board. You can also see his foot in the water and the motion of the water itself shows something just submerged.”
Scerbo also criticized the father for allowing the images to go viral.
“The father of this kid should be cited for a false report as he clearly knew better,” Scerbo wrote.
Viewers who blow up the closeup image in Hasson's Facebook post can decide for themselves, but the symmetry from the torso down looks peculiar, and there appears to be a person's foot where the shark’s tail fin would exist.
Pete Thomas Outdoors reached out to Hasson via Facebook message, but he had not responded at the time of this post.
Scerbo, it's worth noting, recently debunked a different story, which showed German model-actress Simone Gutsche wading in the Florida surf with a large shark pictured behind her.
Scerbo found an older photo of a hammerhead shark with its dorsal fin in the exact same position, and with the same markings. It was the same dorsal fin. The image appeared to have been photoshopped and worked into a menacing position behind Gutsche.