Image: Albert Kok/Wikimedia Commons

It’s hard work being online these days. What with all of the “fake news” and “viral posts” corrupting the World Wide Web. So how are you supposed to know what’s real and what’s bullcrap, or rather, bull shark crap?

When it comes to hoax stories about inland shark sightings, at least, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources is here to set you straight.

“Unfortunately, on social media sites people are posting false info such as ‘Kentucky Lake Bull Shark Caught,” wrote the agency in a Facebook post on Tuesday. “Many of these sites are entertainment with user-generated content.”

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I’m honestly saddened to live in a world where this is something a government official needs to say. Not because of the sharks—bull sharks can, in fact, survive in fresh water—but please just look at a portion of the fake news story in question from “BreakingNews365.net”:

Ky Fish and wildlife were called to Pisca bay to the report of an angler catching a shark. Kentucky fish and wildlife officer Blaine Thompson Killer arrived to the boat ramp and confirmed the shark to be a female 5 1/2 foot bull shark. Dr. Sandy kemp from sanibel Florida arrived in marshall as to attempting to catch the shark, as it was reported earlier this week. By blaines description of the shark sandy believe it has given birth to at least 6 pups sometime in the last week. Bull sharks have on average 3 to six pups. This is a monumental occurrence as bull sharks have never been caught this deep in the intercontinental waterways of the United States. Bull sharks are able to store salt in their kidneys and use it as they need. Bull shark pups eat up to 85 percent of their body weight for the first year they are alive. Sharks prefer to attack in less than three feet of water , so fish and wildlife officers are in a scramble to find out for sure if their are pups and if this is a rouge shark.

You get the idea.

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This paragraph looks like something written by a fifth grader for their final project on sharks, where the only sources cited are Wikipedia (the free online encyclopedia!) and Uncle Jim. Nevertheless, thousands of people apparently decided to share this story with their Facebook friends. Let me direct you to one line, specifically:

“[S]o fish and wildlife officers are in a scramble to find out for sure if their are pups and if this is a rouge shark.”

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“Their are pups” is already a silly looking grammatical mistake, but a rouge shark? Rouge like makeup?

A rouge shark. Image: Ryan F. Mandelbaum/William Eburn/Wikimedia Commons.

Now, again, bull sharks can survive in fresh water. They’ve been found in the Mississippi River as far north as Illinois—but not this time. And I don’t really know what to say about this fake news: If you believe it, that’s very sad for you, but a lot of people seem to have believed it, so I guess I’m the fool here.

Thank god for the men and women of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, dedicated to keeping the news honest and Americans informed.

Update 6/28/17 9:45PM: Looks like Kentucky isn’t the only state dealing with the bull shark problem. The Indiana Department of Natural Resources Facebook page shared the following update:

Image: Ryan F. Mandelbaum/Screenshot

You heard it here, folks, you are NOT going to need a bigger boat.

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[via The Lexington Herald Leader, which I assume is real news. H/t Andrew Reynolds for the update.]