Fact Check: Video Does NOT Show Real Megalodon Shark Attack Of Fishing Boat -- Staged Production For 'Shark Week'

Fact Check

  • by: Sarah Thompson
Fact Check: Video Does NOT Show Real Megalodon Shark Attack Of Fishing Boat -- Staged Production For 'Shark Week' Fictional Show

Did a megalodon shark, thought to be long extinct, attack and sink a charter fishing boat off the coast of South Africa as described in a video on social media? No, that's not true: The dramatic scenes in a video, filmed to appear like vacation footage by friends with a hand-held camera, was actually a scripted pseudo-documentary for the Discovery Channel's 2013 "Shark Week." The people in the episode titled "Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives" were actors. The megalodon shark is believed to have become extinct 2.6 million years ago. There is no credible evidence any of these giant sharks still live.

The video appeared in a post (archived here) on Instagram by @insane__vidoes on March 4, 2024. The post was captioned:

Extinct animals caught on camera


(Source: Instagram screenshot taken on Tue Mar 05 15:09:13 2024 UTC)

The megalodon was a real creature that could be found in oceans all around the world for about 20 million years. Fossilized teeth of the megalodon, whose name means "big tooth," show that this creature, once the largest shark and largest fish, has been extinct for at least 2.58 million years -- perhaps as long as 3.6 million years. There are no credible reports of any living megalodon remaining.

The audio track and video remix that was posted on Instagram is not the original Discovery Channel cut: This clip was taken from a 17:40-minute-long YouTube video posted by BillsChannel on June 12, 2020, titled, "MEGALODON ATTACKS FISHING BOAT - real or fake?" In the first six minutes, host Bill reviews the footage and narrative of the attack on the charter fishing boat by the giant shark and then asks the audience to weigh in: Do they think the story is real, "that Megalodon still live in the ocean," or is it fake, and "Discovery Channel just kind of made the whole thing up." Finally at 8:07 minutes into the video Bill opens an envelope with the big reveal:

Ladies and gentlemen, that story in that video about a possible megalodon attack is 100% without any doubts, completely FAKE.

In the last minute of the megalodon segment, Bill describes the Discovery Channel hoax and how the man who played the role of scientist Collin Drake in this production is the actor Darron Meyer.


(Source: YouTube screenshot taken on Tue Mar 05 13:58:13 2024 UTC)

In the screenshot from Bill's "Real or Fake Video" program (pictured above) at the 9:00 mark is the headline from a July 26, 2018, article in the Washington Post (archived here): "A fake Shark Week documentary about megalodons caused controversy. Why is Discovery bringing it up again?" This article reviews the controversial fictional episodes that aired during 2013 and 2014, and reports that Discovery has produced a third episode, "Megalodon: Fact vs. Fiction," that would air for the 30th anniversary of Shark Week in 2018. Joseph Schneier, now the senior vice president at Discovery Channel, is quoted:

Yet at the same time, we have a program we were proud of. So we wanted to own the fact that there was some controversy, and that it was clearly a scripted program with actors in it . . . but then dive into the science of the show and the real fish.

Additional Lead Stories fact checks about megalodon sightings can be found here.

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  Sarah Thompson

Sarah Thompson lives with her family and pets on a small farm in Indiana. She founded a Facebook page and a blog called “Exploiting the Niche” in 2017 to help others learn about manipulative tactics and avoid scams on social media. Since then she has collaborated with journalists in the USA, Canada and Australia and since December 2019 she works as a Social Media Authenticity Analyst at Lead Stories.


Read more about or contact Sarah Thompson

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