Man In Cornwall Baffled After Spotting Ship Floating Above The Horizon

by : Emily Brown on : 05 Mar 2021 09:43
Another Ship Seen 'Floating' On The HorizonApex News and Pictures

After the strange year that was 2020 it’s only right that 2021 gets some unusual happenings of its own, and they appear to be coming in the form of floating ships. 

I know, I know, all ships float, but usually they’re seen floating on the water – not up in the sky, as it looks like they’ve been doing lately.


Earlier this week 23-year-old Colin McCallum was left stunned when he spotted a ship apparently hovering in mid-air, and now a similar scene has been caught on camera by David Morris, who snapped a photo of the vessel while walking near Falmouth, Cornwall with his son.

Falmouth, CornwallPA Images

Morris’ image looks out to sea from the hamlet of Gillan, and while there is a clear line where the sea meets the sky in the horizon, the ship is positioned curiously high above the water.

The man behind the camera was said to be ‘stunned’ by the scene, while his son, also named David, said: ‘we were amazed and very baffled.’


Before anyone gets carried away with ideas and theories about it being an actual alien space-ship, though, I should point out there is an explanation.

Ship seen 'floating' in cornwallApex News and Pictures

BBC meteorologist David Braine explained that the image is the result of a rare optical illusion known as a ‘superior mirage’, which occurs because of ‘special atmospheric conditions that bend light.’

Braine said:


Superior mirages occur because of the weather condition known as a temperature inversion, where cold air lies close to the sea with warmer air above it.

Since cold air is denser than warm air, it bends light towards the eyes of someone standing on the ground or on the coast, changing how a distant object appears.

Superior mirages can produce a few different types of images – here a distant ship appears to float high above its actual position, but sometimes an object below the horizon can become visible.

Ship seen 'floating' in cornwallApex News and Pictures

Though it’s nice to know we’re not about to be challenged by some other-worldly sailors, the picture still got people talking, with some social media users convinced that the ship had been moved further into the sky using Photoshop.

As it turns out, however, Morris and his son had seen the phenomenon before, as had some of the people who responded to the photo. Sharing another image of a ‘floating’ ship, Facebook user Kat Fairhead wrote: ‘We had one in Cork last year!’


It seems 2021 hasn’t quite yet matched up to the strangeness of its predecessor, but there’s still plenty of time for some wild things to occur.

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Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.

Topics: Science, Cornwall, Now, Optical Illusion, sea


  1. BBC

    'Floating ship' photographed off Cornish coast by walker