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.

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Bull shark
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 VirginiaGreat 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.

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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.