Old videos of big waves and dolphins misattributed to Hurricane Hilary

By: Praveen Kumar
August 22 2023

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Old videos of big waves and dolphins misattributed to Hurricane Hilary


The Verdict False

Videos of a surfer riding huge waves and a pod of dolphins are old. They do not show the recent California hurricane from August 2023.

Claim ID 78e9e1e0

On Friday, August 18, the state of California issued a warning for Hurricane Hilary for the weekend and days to follow. California Governor Gavin Newsom's office urged the people of Southern California to be prepared for "the wettest tropical cyclone in state history and the first-ever Tropical Storm Watch issued for California." Consequently, the governor proclaimed a state of emergency on August 19, and Hurricane Hilary caused flash floods the following day.

 What's the claim?
Social media users shared many videos attributing them to the hurricane during this time. One video shows a surfer riding a massive tidal wave, and another features a "dolphin stampede" swimming in the sea. A Twitter user shared these videos, which have gained over 11,600 views and 288,200 views, respectively. Archived posts can be found here, here, here, and here.

An X user's posts about these videos have gained over 11,600 views and 288,200 views, respectively. (Source: X / Altered by Logically Facts)

Similar posts are also circulating on Facebook. (Source: Facebook / Altered by Logically Facts)


However, they are not recent videos and predate Hurricane Hilary.

How did we verify this?

1. The waves video

We analyzed a screenshot from the video of the surfer. The results led us to a video posted to TikTok by an account named beefs_tv on June 18, with the caption "Big wave! #thewedge #surf #drop #bigone.” 

The results also led us to a similar video filmed from a different angle posted to Instagram on May 19 by an account named Surfline that posts surfing videos from different creators. It tagged the surfer in the video as Julian Sage Burke (username @sage_burke) and credited the footage to James Ferrell, a photographer based in southern California. Burke is a surfer from Newport Beach, California, and he posted the same video on May 24 on his Instagram account, also crediting it to Ferrell.

The same surfing video was posted to TikTok months ago (Source: X / TikTok / Altered by Logically Facts)

According to the captions of both Instagram posts, the location this video was filmed was The Wedge, a spot located at the extreme southeast end of the Balboa Peninsula in Newport Beach. Also, the original post contains background music, unlike in the viral video. The same video has been posted across social media platforms over the past few months.

Similar surfing videos were posted to Instagram in May 2023. (Source: Instagram / Altered by Logically Facts)

2. The video of dolphins

Reverse image search results for a screenshot of the "dolphin stampede" video led us to the Instagram account named Legacy Whale Watch, a whale-watching company in San Diego. It posted the viral video on October 6, 2022, and credited it to another Instagram account named @taylor.parent, a California-based photographer.

The same dolphin video was posted to Instagram in October 2022. (Source: X / Instagram / Altered by Logically Facts)

Parent posted the same video on her Instagram on October 16, 2022.

Photographer Taylor Parent posted the same dolphin video to Instagram in October 2022. (Source: Instagram / Altered by Logically Facts)

Captions of these Instagram posts contain hashtags "San Diego and "Southern California, suggesting where it was filmed. The background music used in the original video and the viral video are also different. Many nature enthusiasts have posted this video online several times, dating back to October 6, 2022.

Logically Facts has contacted Burke, Ferrell, and Parent for more information on when and where the videos were shot. This story will be updated if and when we receive a response.

 The verdict

A video of a surfer riding a tidal wave at Newport Beach and a video showing a pod of dolphins swimming in the sea in San Diego have been used to incorrectly claim they show visuals of Hurricane Hilary that hit California in August 2023. While Logically Facts could not independently confirm the location of the videos and when they were shot, their existence on social media predates Hurricane Hilary. Therefore, we have marked this claim as false.

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Global Fact-Checks Completed

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