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Fact check: Story about fisherman becoming friends with a shark is an April Fool’s Day joke  

Social media users have been sharing a story online about a fisherman and a shark becoming good friends after the man saved the shark’s life. This story was published as an April Fool’s Day joke in a French fishing magazine in 2006.

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS

Examples can be seen  here  and  here  . 

The story explains that a professional fisherman named Arnold Pointer from Southern Australia saved the life of a “big female white shark” after it was caught in his fishing net and named it Cindy. Pointer explains that now he has a problem: the almost 17-foot shark has not left him alone in two years, following him wherever he goes and scaring away the fish Pointer is trying to catch.

In the story, Pointer says: “Once I stop the boat she comes to me, she turns on her back and let me pet her belly and neck, she grunts, turn her eyes, and move her fins up and down hitting the water happily.”

According to the blog site Our Planet ( here , and another blog post  here  ), the story was  part of an April Fool’s Joke in the April 2006 edition of Le Magazine des Voyages de Peche, a French fishing magazine ( here ). The article can be seen  here  .  

The story has been debunked by various fact checkers including Snopes  here  ,  here and Truth or Fiction here  . 

Snopes points to the photograph originating from the website of White Shark Trust, a research and conservation organization based in South Africa ( here  ). Similar photographs showing the same man who is in these social media claims with a shark can be seen around two-thirds down the page  here  . The man is wearing the same shirt, glasses and white hat showing the same logo. The gallery shows a research expedition where the team “had two Sharks around the boat, then we observed eight Sharks within an hour, and then played with two of these Sharks for a couple more hours.” 

A slideshow video published on YouTube in 2008 tells the same story and shows a series of photographs, including the one in the claim ( here ).  

Photographer Thomas P. Peschak debunks the hoax on his website  here  . The YouTube video also includes one of Peschak’s photographs, around 30 seconds into the video. The photograph shows a shark trailing behind a man on a yellow kayak. Peschak’s photo is also from an expedition with White Shark Trust in South Africa. He explains that this photo gained a lot of attention and resurfaced in the slideshow video with the April Fool’s Day story of the fisherman from Le Magazine des Voyages de Peche.  

Peschak explains that his photo was used in multiple other hoaxes, including the shark being photoshopped into the flooded streets of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Irene and the flooded streets of New Jersey or Houston after Hurricane Sandy ( herehere ,  here  ). 

VERDICT

False. This story about a fisherman and a shark becoming friends originated from an April Fool’s Day joke in a French fishing magazine.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work  here  .          

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