An image of a shark attacking a helicopter that circulated widely on the Internet as “National Geographic Photo of the Year” turned out to be the story of the year for National Geographic News, the Society’s online news service.
America Online featured the composite image and the story behind it on its Welcome ScreenÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Âand within 24 hours more than one million people clicked through to read the full report on Nationalgeographic.com. The story continued to be heavily visited throughout the year, easily making it National Geographic’s No.1 online news report for 2002.
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National Geographic News reported that the image was a hoax after the Society’s Web site was besieged by visitors searching for “Photo of the Year,” “Shark,” and “Helicopter”ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Âor by sending the online news desk e-mails asking if the photo was real. The person who made the hoax image remains unknown, but National Geographic was able to track down the sources of the two original photographs that had been merged to form the fake photo.