WATCH: Internet Believes Mysterious Clip Shows a Manatee in Florida Street After Hurricane Ian

by Suzanne Halliburton
Roland Weihrauch/picture alliance via Getty Images

If you’re not careful, you might get tricked when watching all those amazing Hurricane Ian video clips. Social media is chock full of them. The cat four system brought intense winds and a horrendous storm surge. It displaced everything from homes to boats to animals.

That’s why the internet thought a manatee maneuvering over a sidewalk happened in the wake of Hurricane Ian. A Twitter account labeled IndeedsTopOpp shared the video, captioning it “son wtf goin on in florida???”

The manatee video had been shared enough on social media that it had been viewed more than 24.3 million times. (That might be the first clue something was up.) Social media users liked this tweet almost 372,000 times.

Was This Manatee Really Lost In Hurricane Ian? Read On

There were a number of Twitter users who got upset seeing such a beautiful sea creature lost and struggling on dry land. One wrote: “Instead of recording can someone please help it back to it’s home?????? lmao wtf” Folks then pondered how to do that. “What u want us to do. We can’t carry him back to the ocean.”

And voila, some sharp-eyed Twitter users quickly figured out that this manatee wasn’t displaced by Hurricane Ian. Nope, the video of the manatee was from 2020. And it wasn’t a manatee, but an elephant seal. Plus, the elephant seal got lost in Puerto Cisnes, a town along the coast of Chile. It was all during the COVID lockdown. Remember back to two years ago, when you’d see videos of animals out of place in urban areas?

Other Twitter users figured out that the video found a new wave of attention in Spring 2021. But this time, the elephant seal evolved into a walrus. Then came September 2022.

Yes, That Probably Was a Shark Swimming in a Fort Myers Neighborhood

Meanwhile, Twitter users usually get tricked by shark video hoaxes after a hurricane sweeps ashore. And there were a few fake ones in the hours after Hurricane Ian made landfall near Fort Myers, Fla. The system brought a seven-foot storm surge to nearby Naples, so it made sense that fish and other creatures might’ve made a wrong turn into a residential street.

This time, was there really a street shark? Snopes says Fact Check: True (sort of). The site tweeted:

“UPDATE: We can now confirm that the video is real and was shot by a Fort Myers resident on the morning of Sept. 28. We’re unable to confirm with any certainty that the creature caught on video was a shark, however.”

There was something swimming in the backyard. But seriously, who wanted to wade through the water to verify? Hurricane Ian was scary enough without sharks (or alligators and snakes, those creatures really do come out after a hurricane). Several journalists found out who really took the video. The guy’s metadata was checked. Yes, the video was authentic and taken at the same time as the Hurricane Ian storm surge was flooding the area.

Hurricane Ian moved off the east coast of Florida, Thursday, and regrouped in the Atlantic. It’s now making landfall in South Carolina as a Cat 1 storm.