Lake Ontario's mysterious "shark" turned out to all be a hoax concocted by a film crew to create publicity around Discovery Canada's Shark Week programs in August, according to a Discovery Channel statement.
A video of the Lake Ontario "shark" was posted July10 on YouTube and had gone viral with more than 500,000 views as of Thursday.
"Fishing with my brother off wolfe island in KINGSTON, ONTARIO, CANADA, shark took his catch with him. Shark in LAKE ONTARIO!! UNREAL!!" said a caption on the viral video.
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The video frightened many residents in Wolfe Island, Ontario, as they refused to swim in Lake Ontario, according to the National Post
. Ontario minister of natural resources Bill Mauro issued a statement, according to the Canadian Press, asking to people to report shark sightings.
"I think a lot of people aren't sure if it's a true story or not … But it's got a lot of parents being wary," Erin Whalen, a waitress at a Wolfe Island restaurant told the National Post.
A Bell Media statement released Wednesday confessed to the promotion
and said the shark on the video was not a shark at all.
"It's O.K., Canada. Summer swimming activities can resume as normal," read the statement from Bell Media. "Discovery wants to quell the concerns of Canadians everywhere and reveal that the widely-circulated video of a shark swimming in Lake Ontario is, in fact, not a real shark. The video of the incredibly life-like prosthetic model shark is the first stage of a multi-level marketing campaign tied to the channel’s iconic summer event, Shark Week."
The revelation left some, like Frontenac Islands Township mayor Denis Doyle, upset, calling the shark rumor akin to the Loch Ness monster, noted the National Post.
"It's concerning that somebody would come up with a wild hoax," said Doyle. "I guess it gets a little personal with some people … I think they probably intended it in good fun."
Paul Lewis, Discovery's president and general manager, said in the Bell Media statement that the video shows the high interest Canadians have in sharks.
"This video has certainly sparked the conversation around sharks, confirming what we already know to be true: Canadians are captivated by these creatures," Lewis said in the statement. "We're ready to feed this fascination next month with more SHARK WEEK hours than ever before."
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