1. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    1) Water around the whale is undisturbed.
    2) The bird and whale are the same apparent size, and both are in focus despite the distance between them.
    3) There’s a shadow of something in the lower-right, yet no shadows under the bird.
    5) Image: FotoForensics – JPEG Error Level Analysis (suggesting the whale had been through more rounds of jpeg-saving than the bird)
    6) Neither animal seems to match the scale of the terrain, assuming that’s a dirty/snowy/grassy field that meets the water, viewed from somewhere elevated.

  2. congenital cynic says

    Agree that it is likely a fake, but I don’t think that’s water around the whale. Looks like the decking on a boat (note handrail to left of bird) and the whale is just poking up above the edge of the boat. If that’s supposed to be water, then the person who fabbed the photo wasn’t careful enough to get rid of that rail.

  3. ballookey says

    Shadows and scale don’t bother me – photos can be weird that way.

    But the lack of splash or water runoff from the whale does bother me. Also, it SEEMS like this is pretty close to the shore and although I can’t know the depth of the water, it seems unlikely that a whale would be breeching like that in the shallows.

    The lack of spray or splash, or water flying off the whale in any way though, that makes it very suspect.

  4. ballookey says

    Two more thoughts:
    The shadow that Sky Captain is talking about is actually a wooden hand railing or something cutting across the lower right corner. It’s not a sharp shadow that would be suspect in a scene with diffuse light, but rather an object mistaken for a shadow.

    Also, I respectfully disagree with the interpretation of the fotoForensics result. There are less artifacts in the whale, but not none, and in fact the whale is far less detailed than the bird, so that would be the expected result if the image were real. In reading the site’s guide to analysis, this is to be expected. In fact the image as a whole displays little evidence of tampering other than the fact that it has been resaved as a JPG more than once.

    If this is a fake, then the photographer possibly captured both images on the same day, and merged them without applying a disproportionate amount of processing to either image. Same camera, same day, same post processing and a resave explains what we see. Or the image is genuine and it’s just hard to parse what’s going on in the middle distance.

  5. Lofty says

    Whale? Silly people. That’s just Russia’s newest camouflaged stealth submarine after the captain’s night on the good stuff.

  6. chrislawson says

    Gotta be careful of the over-analysis. I’ve seen perfectly genuine photos picked apart and “proven” fake by enthusiastic online debunkers.

  7. ballookey says

    Google “breaching whale” images and tell me that looks believable in any way. There should be a whole mess of spray and splashing but there’s none, zero, in this photo.

    The statue theory seems plausible.