Don’t believe everything you see on line. A website, People of Lancaster, published an article on October 7 that showed pictures of dolphins being blown around by the winds of Hurricane Matthew in Florida. They are great shots credited to a Weather Channel photographer who was blown away by what he had been able to capture with his trust camera. The problem is that it is a fake. Heck, they aren’t even photos from this hurricane. The two photos aren’t even from the same hurricane. Note: no dolphins were harmed in the creation of these photos.

Dolphin in Flight?
Dolphin in Flight?

These incredible images were reportedly caught by Weather Channel photographer Ernie Schwartz. “I have photographed hundreds of tornados and four hurricanes. I’ve never seen winds so strong that dolphins were blown from the ocean.” Schwartz explained in the article on People of Lancaster. These photos immediately began spreading across the web, but . . .

Dolphin in Flight?
Dolphin in Flight?

NOT SO FAST! These photos are actually from 2004 and 2005.  They were from hurricanes Frances and Dennis respectively according to Snopes. They even provided the original photos without the airborne cetaceans. Ah, yes, Photoshop is a wonderful thing, but . . .

Snopes was quick to point out that the article had clearly been tagged as satire. NOT SO FAST! I checked out the People of Lancaster website and found no such tag. All there I found was a statement at the top of the page that reads “People of Lancaster is a mix of news, opinion, and satire about the people, places, and interests of Lancaster County, PA.”  There are no tags on individual articles that I could find. It appears that the site is satirical and that each article is “news, opinion, and satire.” Not everyone gets satire. Many (including me) were taken in by the fate of these poor dolphins tragically being slammed into buildings. I was just glad I googled the subject before I started writing. Okay, just after I started writing. I also found that for a couple of years after hurricanes dolphins produce more offspring. Hmmm. That’s like humans after a major power outage, at night, with nothing else to do.

Snopes' Photos
Snopes' Photos

Where I live along the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado we often get hurricane-force winds during the winter months. When the forecasts for these winds begin we start joking about there being a “small pets warning” being issue. The idea is that small dogs and cats could be blown away like tumbleweeds. So maybe the take-away from this incident is for Floridians to begin joking about hurricanes coming with “small cetacean warnings.”

Now I expect to see Photoshop images of beagles and pugs being blown across yards and parking lots, or cats flying through the air. Uh-huh. Well, at least there were no fictional dolphins harmed in the making of these photographs. If something sounds too amazing, check it out.

Images via People of Lancaster, Snopes

Sources: People of Lancaster, Snopes, Scientific American

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