Last week, Youtube user "Fisher86" posted what appeared to be a video shot with a camera phone of a shark in Lake Ontario. It resulted in mainstream news coverage and official government warnings. It was all a hoax created to drum up interest in Shark Week. And to scare people.
It took Discovery Channel a week to fess up. The Toronto Sun:
A video of a what appeared to be a bull shark swimming off of Wolfe Island in Lake Ontario has been revealed to be a marketing ploy for Discovery's Channel's Shark Week and its sponsor Nissan Rogue.
"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," a news release issued Wednesday says. "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."
As the Vancouver Sun reports, this wasn't a silly game for everyone:
But for local residents on Wolfe Island, where the video was supposed to have been filmed, the entire matter was one that set some on edge.
"I was really fearful," said Laura Staley. "Overall, I'm absolutely relived."
For Kody Paul, the matter was something he had to discuss with his two young boys over the past week.
"Our kids grow up swimming in these waters," he said. "It certainly switched up the atmosphere around here."
Because the best way to advertise your iconic summer event is to scare people.
Shark Week is no stranger to nonsense, of course. Last year, they aired a "mockumentary" about the continued existence of a giant prehistoric shark called Megalodon, including hiring actors to pretend to be scientists in the film. Then they were pleased with themselves when it turned out that they convinced most folks to believe that Megalodon still swims our oceans.