By Erica Abbott
A photo purportedly showing a “North American sturgeon whale” swimming under the Mackinac Bridge in the Great Lakes is a digitally-manipulated fake. Not only is the photo fake, but so is the supposedly “extinct” whale referenced in the photo caption.
According to Snopes, the Photoshopped image was shared on Facebook, claiming that it was “the first sighting of a freshwater sturgeon whale in the Great Lakes in over fifty years.” The photo of the 75-foot creature, purportedly taken by the Mackinac Bridge Drone Authority, has been shared more than 14,000 times. Nothing referenced in the post, however, is real.
There is no such thing as a “North American sturgeon whale” and neither the Mackinac Bridge Drone Authority nor the Great Lakes Aquatic Biological Systems, Inc. exist. While the Mackinac Bridge is a real suspension bridge that connects Michigan’s upper and lower peninsulas, there are no whales to be found underneath it. The Minnesota Sea Grant debunked the rumor in 2010:
Reports of whales in Lake Michigan are also patently untrue.
The truth: There are no whales, no dolphins or sharks, and no squid in the Great Lakes.
However, there are some creatures in our freshwater seas with oceanic counterparts. If you know where and when to look, you can find freshwater jellyfish, freshwater sponges, and freshwater shrimp (distantly related to edible shrimp) in Lake Superior.
The original photo simply shows the bridge and was taken by a maintenance worker atop one of the bridge’s suspension cables, according to the MightMac Facebook page. The original poster of the image seems to acknowledge that the image is a fake in a comment, jokingly writing that he was attacked by the whale and subsequently sent to therapy with Dr. Sigmund Freud.
There are no whales in the Great Lakes.
Have you seen the Photoshopped image of a whale swimming under the Mackinac Bridge circulating social media? Sound off in the comments section below!