Fact check: Photos show Uruguay, Australia, Fiji – not Tonga eruption aftermath – USA TODAY

Share Article

After an underwater volcanic eruption near Tonga, thousands of social media users shared photos purportedly showing the aftermath. 
A Facebook post that accrued over 400 reactions within four days features three photos of dead fish on a beach. 
“Continue to pray for Tonga. Dead fish washed ashore on Tonga after the volcanic eruptions,” reads the caption. 
Similar posts with the same images have been shared over 1,500 times since the Jan. 15 eruption. 
Special access for subscribers! Click here to sign up for our fact-check text chat
The situation in Tonga prompted the rapid spread of misinformation online. Independent fact-checking organizations have debunked videos falsely claiming to show footage of the tsunami and volcanic eruption. 
In fact, those videos depicted events in Indonesia and Italy. Similarly, the images of dead fish in the Facebook post show beaches in Uruguay, Australia and Fiji. 
USA TODAY reached out to the Facebook user who posted the images for comment.
There are three images in the Facebook post. None of them show Tonga.
The first one shows a cluster of dead fish on a beach. According to Spanish newspaper El País, the picture was taken in Uruguay in 2015, when more than 200 tons of dead fish appeared on the beaches of Montevideo and Canelones. 
The second image is a close-up of dead fish on another beach. The small fish emerged on a beach in Buddina, Australia, in September 2015, according to local news outlet The Courier Mail. The image was taken by Buddina resident Susan Sheard during a morning walk.
More:The tremendous explosion and impact of the Tonga volcano, explained
The third image in the post depicts a group of live, red crabs on the sand. The Agence France-Presse reported the picture was taken by Aisea Kai’tu in Yadua village, on Fiji’s Gau Island. Kai’tu posted the image along with several others Jan. 15. 
Fact check:Protest in Netherlands in response to gas extractions, not COVID-19 regulations
Real images of Tonga after the volcanic eruption and tsunami waves show infrastructure damage and ash blankets that covered homes and buildings. USA TODAY could find no images of dead fish washed up on beaches. 
Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that images show dead fish washed up on Tonga’s coast after a volcanic eruption. The images in the post were taken in three different countries: Australia, Uruguay and Fiji. Two photos of dead fish are from 2015, while the image of the crabs in Fiji is from January.
Thank you for supporting our journalism. You can subscribe to our print edition, ad-free app or electronic newspaper replica here.
Our fact-check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.


You might also like

Surviving 2nd wave of corona

Surviving The 2nd Wave of Corona

‘This too shall pass away’ this famous Persian adage seems to be defeating us again and again in the case of COVID-19. Despite every effort