This photo of a giant whale shark swimming under a tiny boat is actually a clever optical illusion — and people are freaking out
- A viral photo shows a massive whale shark lurking directly under a boat full of people — but that’s actually not the case.
- Like photos of tourists “holding” the Leaning Tower of Pisa, this optical illusion is created by a photography technique called forced perspective.
- This technique makes objects appear larger, smaller, farther, or closer than they actually are.
- The stunning picture was taken by photographer Tom Cannon, the co-founder of an underwater photography company called Ocean Collective Media.
A stunning viral photo appears to show a massive whale sharklurking directly under a boat full of people.
The breathtaking shot was recently captured by photographer Tom Cannon in Ningaloo Reef, about 3.7 miles off the coast of Western Australia. Cannon and his friend, marine scientist and photographer Sam Lawrence, are the co-founders of an underwater photography company called Ocean Collective Media, which helps promote wildlife and oceanic preservation.
Cannon’s photo is particularly striking because the whale shark looks like it’s about to swallow the boat whole. But that’s actually not the case. Just take a look at how the boat is out of focus while the whale shark is crystal clear in the foreground of the photo. Like photos of tourists “holding” the Leaning Tower of Pisa, this optical illusion is created by a photography technique called forced perspective in which objects are made to appear larger, smaller, farther, or closer than they actually are.
“When I took the photo the whale shark was literally centimeters from my camera,” Cannon, 26, confirmed in an email to INSIDER. “The boat stayed several meters away to avoid any risk to the shark itself.”
Cannon came across this whale shark while on tour with Ningaloo Reef Dive and Snorkel. “This particular shark was really curious and spent the entire 50 minutes on the surface with us chasing bubbles and checking everybody out,” the photographer told South West News Service (SWNS). “The people on board were customers and staff members who were quite amazed to see the whale shark behaving this way.”
“This was a rare experience to have such a curious playful shark,” Cannon added. “They usually swim in straight lines in search of food.”
The largest existing species of fish, whale sharks can grow up to 40 feet long or more, and their mouths alone can span five feet wide. But these slow-moving filter feeders, often referred to as “gentle giants,” are much less intimidating than they seem.
“They are a very docile fish and will often shy away from anything they feel threatened by,” Cannon told SWNS. “We are their biggest threat with the increasing pollution to our oceans. They need our help.”