Here’s the set-up: a helicopter is raising a diver up out of the ocean when suddenly an immense great white shark jumps out of the water for a quick (and fatal) bite. It sounds like a scene from a movie (say Jaws II or Deep Blue Sea, and it seems to unbelievable to be real.
Fortunately for the diver and the helicopter, the photo is fake, and so is the story behind it.
Here’s the original letter:
Date collected: 8/12/2002
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 of the British Navy. It has been nominated by Geo as “THE photo of the year”.
This is an out-and-out hoax. According to National Geographic (which was named in another variation of the hoax e-mail), the photo is actually a composite of two separate photos — one of a great white breaching the water off the coast of South Africa, the other of a helicopter near the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
You can read their full debunking here: