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Stunning great white shark attack image is a mystery no longer

Viral photo is part of a jaw-dropping sequence captured off South Africa

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A spectacular photo of a great white shark in airborne attack mode, with the rising sun as a backdrop, was posted to Reddit on Wednesday and picked up by other websites. But the mystery photo contained no details—beyond what was offered in the 400-plus comments—and no photo credit.

“This great white shark jump photo is majestic, awesome, scary,” reads the headline above a post on MSN.com.

So, we did some checking and discovered that the “Great White Shark jumping into the sunset” photo was actually captured at sunrise, as part of a sequence, by Chris Fallows.

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Fallows and his wife, Monique, run Apex Shark Expeditions in South Africa. And many of the people commenting on Reddit were correct: The photo was captured at Seal Island in False Bay, South Africa.

Fallows did not authorize use of the photo that went viral, but provided us with permission to run the jaw-dropping three-image sequence, which he captured in 2010 as part of an Apex sunrise shark-viewing tour. (Fallows uses a seal decoy made of carpet, so as not to injure attacking sharks.)

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“It was taken in July and the magic of the sun rising behind the breaching shark was no coincidence, as we had tried to position ourselves in such a way to best capture the beauty of the morning’s sunrise,” Fallows explained.

The white sharks at Seal Island are famous for their airborne attacks. Chris and Monique Fallows have worked with numerous documentary teams, including the Discovery Channel for its “Air Jaws” series.

The Fallows’ images have been featured on this website, too, most recently last February when we profiled an expedition during which first-of-their-kind images showed a cape fur seal devouring large sharks.

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