Helicopter Shark is a composition of two photographs that gives the impression that a great white shark is leaping out of the water to attack military personnel climbing a suspended ladder attached to a Special Forces UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter. The photo was widely circulated via an email in 2001, along with a claim that it had been chosen as "National Geographic Photo of the Year". The email in question was usually written in the following form: "AND YOU THINK YOUR HAVING A BAD DAY AT WORK !!" [sic] The photo is similar to an incident in the 1966 film Batman where a shark attacks Batman on a ladder from a helicopter. This raised suspicions that the photo in question was a hoax. National Geographic publicly disavowed the photo and the claimed award as a hoax.
The hoax has been discussed in various texts, including a marketing book to teach lessons about influence and a book on teaching critical thinking. The author Carmel Morris who was known to create and circulate many 'Photoshopped' shark attack images during this period has denied creating the helicopter shark image.
The final edited photo was created by combining a photograph of a HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter taken by Lance Cheung for the United States Air Force (USAF), and a photo taken by South African photographer Charles Maxwell. While the helicopter photo was in fact taken in front of the Golden Gate Bridge, the photo of the shark was taken in False Bay, South Africa.
- Shark "Photo of the Year" Is E-Mail Hoax, National Geographic, March 8, 2005. Accessed September 11, 2007.
- "Shark Attack". Snopes. Retrieved 2007-08-26.
- Ira Matathia and Marian L. Salzman (2003). Buzz: Harness the Power of Influence and Create Demand. John Wiley and Sons. ISBN 0-471-27345-7.
At some point in 2002, you may have received an e-mail from a friend pointing you to an incredible photograph of a shark seemingly jumping out of the ocean ...
- Cris Tovani (2004). Do I Really Have to Teach Reading?: Content Comprehension, Grades 6-12. Stenhouse Publishers. ISBN 1-57110-376-7.
This photo has been nominated as National Geographic's Photo of the Year." "See," says Mallory. "The words say that it's a real photo." "So what? ...
- "Search Results | National Library of Australia". catalogue.nla.gov.au. Retrieved 2021-05-27.
- McClain, Dylan Loeb (October 7, 2002). "Compressed Data; Another Big Fish Story Comes Unraveled". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-03-28.
A photograph circulating on the Internet purports to show a great white shark leaping out of the water at a military diver hanging on a ladder from a hovering helicopter. A caption accompanying the photograph says: Although this looks like a picture taken from a Hollywood movie, it is in fact a real photo, taken near the South African coast during a military exercise by the British Navy. It has been nominated by National Geographic as 'the photo of the year.'
- "Great White internet hoax drives huge sales of photo". Sunday Territorian. June 26, 2006.
... the shark was photographed By Mr Maxwell at False Bay, South Africa, and the helicopter was captured on film in San Francisco, right next to the Golden Gate Bridge ...
- National Geographic News article
- Swimming With the Sharks
- San Francisco Bay Adventures article
- Snopes article on this photo