The Lake Ontario "shark" sighting that went viral this week turned out to be nothing a hoax concocted by a film crew to publicize Discovery Canada's Shark Week coming up in August.
The purported sighting, captured in a YouTube video posted last week, happened when two brothers went fishing off Wolfe Island. While reeling in what they thought was a fish, the men were instead greeted by an ominous dorsal fin. The clip immediately went viral, drawing more than half a million 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!!" read a description of the video.
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The hoax clip succeeded in freaking out many Canadians, who refused to swim in Lake Ontario, according to the National Post
. Ontario Minister of Natural Resources Bill Mauro even issued a statement asking to people to report any 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.
But the truth came out in a Bell Media statement released Wednesday
, which copped to the shark hoax.
"It's O.K., Canada. Summer swimming activities can resume as normal," the statement read. "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.
"It's concerning that somebody would come up with a wild hoax," Doyle told the National Post. "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," he said. "We're ready to feed this fascination next month with more SHARK WEEK hours than ever before."
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