'Shark' Photo Bombing at Southern California Beach is Actually a Dolphin, Experts Say

A picture that went viral after it was believed to have contained a shark in the background is now being questioned after marine experts insisted the animal was a bottlenose dolphin.

The mistake is understandable given that there were two kids were swimming in the ocean at the time the picture was taken and the fact that there were several shark sightings in Manhattan Beach.

Juvenile great white sharks are known to feed in Southern California coastal waters and are seen sporadically into early winter, however marine animal experts who have reviewed the picture state that the animal seen in the picture is actually a bottlenose dolphin.

"I know there has been a lot of concern over this news story, but just wanted to let everyone know this is a dolphin. A couple of us (mainly Julien Jordan haha) have been emailing in to the news. I couldn't agree more Julien, the news needs to check the photos and facts before you go scaring everyone! I hate that the poor sharks are getting a bad, scary rep for this when it's a coastal bottlenose dolphin," Stated Kera Mathes, a naturalist with the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, on her Facebook page.

The photo was taken on Dec. 27 and shows two 12-year-old boys in the ocean on their surfboards as a large wave crashes behind them.

June Emerson, the photographer behind the rare image and mother of one of the boys in the photo, told local media outlets that she did not notice the animal in the wave until after she had left the beach and checked the photos in her car.

"I'm not sure what it was," Emerson told CBS2 of the possible shark citing, adding "but it definitely scared me when I thought it might be a shark."

Since Emerson posted the strange photo on her Facebook last week and she has been inundated by comments.

"Another beautiful day at the beach," Emerson wrote on Facebook, "Big waves and apparently Big Fish! [Look into wave to right of Quinn Emerson, who's out catching a few!]– Manhattan Beach, California."