The Story of the Man Who Befriended a Great White Shark-Fiction!

Summary of the eRumor:
A series of pictures, sometimes in a PowerPoint presentation, of close encounters between a man and a great white shark.  The eRumor says its the story of Australian fisherman Arnold Pointer who once freed a great white shark from a fishing net and the shark has followed him around ever since.
 

The Truth:  
The pictures are authentic, although collected from various sources, but the story that accompanies them is a fabrication.  There is no real story of an Australian fisherman whose act of kindness developed a friendship with a great white shark.  The article referenced in the eRumor as being from "Le Magazine des Voyages de
PÍche
" was an April fools joke from 2006.

Let's start at the beginning.

First, the two pictures of the kayak being followed by a great white shark are real.  They were taken off the coast of South Africa by award-winning photographer Thomas P. Peschak. 

Peschak explains on his website at
www.thomaspeschak.com that the pictures are the result of research as to why great white sharks were congregating in shallow water off some of South Africa's swimming beaches.  In order to observe the sharks up close the scientists tried using kayaks.  The sharks' curiosity brought them close, but without apparent threat to the researchers.  The picture of the shark following the kayak has circulated widely on the Internet along with speculation that it was Photoshopped or faked.  Peschak said he snapped the photo while hanging off the tower of one of the research vessels and it was later published in Africa Geographic.

The photographs of a man apparently touching a great white shark are from Michael Scholl, founder of the White Shark Trust (
www.whitesharktrust.org) in South Africa.  The trust offers opportunities for field research for those interested in great white sharks.  That includes first-hand encounters with sharks that are lured to the research boats.  Some of the sharks are known to curiously hang around and allow themselves to be touched.

The final picture of the leaping shark is a frame from the BBC television series
Planet Earth.

Posted 3/31/08

A real example of the eRumor as it has appeared on the Internet: