12/31/2013 11:55 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Photobombing 'Shark' Actually A Dolphin, Expert Says

When is a shark not a shark? When it's (likely) a dolphin.

Last Friday, June Emerson of California took a picture of her 12-year-old boy and a friend at Manhattan Beach. It was a typical fun-in-the-sun shot, except for a scary looking, shadowy figure in the surf, just behind the boys. It immediately went viral as a "shark photobomb."

Jeff Kurr, an expert who has had some pretty close encounters filming sharks for Discovery's Shark Week, told CNN that the mysterious marine stalker was "a juvenile great white shark."

shark photobomb

But now, at least one expert is convinced that the "shark" in the photo is actually a bottlenose dolphin.

On the Southern Fried Science blog, senior correspondent David Shiffman, who studies shark conservation, pointed out anatomical details in the photo that led him to conclude that the creature in the water is a dolphin, and not a great white shark:

Screengrab: Southern Fried Science

Screengrab: Southern Fried Science

Tough to argue with anatomy, but then again, it's a blurry photo where the animal is concerned. It's easy to see why a casual viewer would get confused.

Emerson told CNN that she remembers seeing dolphins in the water on the day she took the photo.

Whether it was a shark or a dolphin, some experts doubted that the kids in the photo were in any danger.

"[Going] back to the last 50 years on how many great white sharks have actually caused a death in southern California... I only know of one incident where someone got a nip on the foot," Randy Hamilton, a shark expert with California's Monterey Bay Aquarium, told CNN.



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