Nanoose photographer captures stunning 'iceberg' mirage

Rare mirage pic captured

A phenomenon rarely ever seen in person was captured on camera out at Moorecroft Park in Nanoose last week.

Simone Engels told CTV News Vancouver that she was out on Jan. 9 trying to capture sunset images when she spotted something unexpected.

"It was blowing my mind," Engels said. "I did not know exactly what [I was] looking at, all these questions went through my mind right away."

The photographer first thought it was an iceberg floating far out. However, Engels explained that she knew that was highly unlikely.

"If it had floated by Campbell River someone would have called it in and that was the piece that didn’t quite make sense for it to be an iceberg," she added.

What she did was take a picture of a "superior mirage,” an incredible phenomenon that rarely occurs, and in turn photographing something that wasn’t actually there.

"We can describe our light as waves and we had a temperature inversion so the lower air was colder than the higher air, which doesn’t happen that often," Alexandra Blair, the chair of the Mathematics and Sciences Department at North Island College explained.

According to Blair, since the air has different temperatures, and therefore different densities, it refracts the light and appears to bend down the light waves.

"I looked through the zoom lens and thought this is so crisp and clear that it really had me stumped, it was so convincing that it was real," Engles added.

The photos she captured she shared to photography Facebook groups.

"A lot of them were blown away just like I was when I saw it, and they said, 'Wow, what an opportunity to take a picture of that phenomenon,'" Engels said.

Through the feedback from multiple people on Facebook, Engels believes that what she actually had photographed was a view of Mount Cheam in Chilliwack, more than 200 kilometres away.

"A friend of mine on Facebook actually overlaid the two images, my image with Mount Cheam, and it was the perfect match," she said.

Luckily for Engels, she was photographing at the perfect moment to see the "superior mirage,” which Blair said has a lengthy history.

"Back in the day when sailors had talked about swimming cities or saw some ghost boats, that’s most likely what happened," Blair explained.

For Engels, it still is a treasured experience.

"I do meditate on a fairly regular basis and I was inviting more mystical experiences in my life and just a couple of days later I come here and I see this thing," Engels said.

- With files from CTV News Vancouver

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