Viral ‘shark’ picture isn’t a shark at all

24 November 2021
What was claimed

A picture shows a tasselled wobbegong shark.

Our verdict

It doesn’t. The picture shows a goosefish, although tasselled wobbegong sharks are real.

A post on Facebook, showing a screenshot of a tweet, says: “Today I learnt that there is such a thing as the tasselled wobbegong shark and I need to share it with you all”, accompanied by a picture of a peculiar-looking sea creature.

Several marine biologists tweeted in response that the picture did not show a tasselled wobbegong shark, but in fact, a goosefish. The person who tweeted the picture clarified in a subsequent tweet that it wasn’t a shark, though the original incorrect tweet is still live.

The tasselled wobbegong is a species of well-camouflaged flat shark that ambushes its prey along the floors of the reef around the western Pacific Ocean. Goosefish are a group of several different species of fish, but they are generally deep sea animals with a flat shape that also ambush their prey.

If you do a Google image search for “tasselled wobbegong shark” the picture in question does appear, incorrectly captioned on Reddit. But although tasselled wobbegong sharks and goosefish do look similar, the picture in question is not a shark.

This article is part of our work fact checking potentially false pictures, videos and stories on Facebook. You can read more about this—and find out how to report Facebook content—here. For the purposes of that scheme, we’ve rated this claim as false because the picture is not a tasselled wobbegong shark, but a goosefish.

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