Fact Check

Bull Shark Spotted in Kentucky Lake?

A fabricated report concerning a nine-foot-long bull shark allegedly found in Kentucky Lake originated on a do-it-yourself fake news web site.

Published June 27, 2017

 (Stefan Pircher / Shutterstock.com)
Image Via Stefan Pircher / Shutterstock.com
A nine-foot-long bull shark was found in Kentucky Lake.

In June 2017, fake news web site React365 posted a captioned photo of a shark fin peeking out of a body of water with the headline "Bull Shark Spotted in Kentucky Lake":

Slight though it was, the page got a lot of play on social media — partly, we hope, in recognition of its humorous intent. A nine-foot-long bull shark was not, in fact, found in Kentucky Lake, a man-made reservoir along the western borders of Kentucky and Tennessee.

The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Services made that clear in a sternly worded Facebook post dated 27 June 2017:

is a web site that provides users with tools to create their own fake news stories, and share them via Facebook and Twitter:

A grammatically challenged disclaimer on the site claims its purpose is entertainment:

React365 users sometimes copy and repost the same material with minor changes to localize or personalize a joke in hopes of garnering shares on social media. Examples include: Bull Shark in Philpott Lake Virginia, Great White Sharks Spotted in Mississippi River, and Great White Sharks Found in Illinois River. For that matter, ersatz shark sightings are a perennial favorite on fake news web sites and social media generally. For example, we've previously debunked: Bull Shark Caught in the Ohio River, Fisherman Captures 3,000-Pound Great White Shark in Great Lakes, and Photo of a Baby Great White Shark.

Sticklers for detail will have noticed that the image shared with the React365 post does not depict the fin of a freshwater bull shark, but that of a great white shark instead. The image, normally credited to UC Davis, has been used all over the Internet for the past seven years or more, including in actual news stories.


ABC7 News.   "More than a Ton of Illegal Shark Fins Seized in San Francisco."    14 February 2014.

React365.   "Bull Shark Spotted in Kentucky Lake."    26 June 2017.

David Emery is a West Coast-based writer and editor with 25 years of experience fact-checking rumors, hoaxes, and contemporary legends.