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Is that really a shark in talons of giant bird? Experts chime in

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a bird flying over a body of water: File Photo © File Photo File Photo

Striking video footage showing a large raptor soaring over Myrtle Beach, S.C., clutching what looks like a shark in its talons, has the Internet abuzz.

“Sharknado Now Real Life as a Bird Carries a Shark in a New Viral Video,” screamed one headline this week. “Bird plucks an alarmed shark from the ocean,” declared another.

The footage was captured by Tennessee resident Ashley White, with an iPhone from the 17th floor of an apartment building.

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It went viral after being tweeted by Tracking Sharks on June 30, under the headline, “Anyone know what type of bird this is and is it holding a shark?” (Video posted above.)

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As of Friday morning, the video had been viewed more than 17 million times.

But social media audiences aren’t always naive. Broad consensus was that the bird was an osprey. They prey almost exclusively on fish and are commonly seen flying with fish in their talons, head-first, as is the case in White’s video.

a flock of seagulls flying over a body of water: File Photo © File Photo File Photo

But while some were convinced the osprey had caught a shark, many noticed the V-shape of the tail and guessed that it might have been a mackerel.

For The Win Outdoors asked Chris Lowe, director of the Shark Lab at California State University – Long Beach, and he responded: “It looks like a mackerel to me, too. I kept saying ‘holy mackerel,’ but apparently nobody got it.”

Michael Domeier, president and executive director of the Marine Conservation Science Institute, was more blunt: “Definitely not a shark.”

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Since Tracking Sharks’ original post, followers have been tweeting videos of ospreys clutching large fish in their talons. It’s what they do; they’ll sit for hours consuming their meals from a high perch.

One of the videos, shared Thursday by Dylan Mellor and attached to the original video (posted above), shows a close up of what looks like the same bird with the same fish on a short post lower to the ground.

“I spent like 45 minutes filming him,” Mellor wrote. “He flew off at one point and I jogged half a mile down the beach to find him and film him again.”

–Images courtesy of Ashley White

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