Viral image of limestone rocks is not from Astola Island in Balochistan

Picture from Cabo San Lucas shared with false claim on social media

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Claim: An image circulating on Facebook allegedly depicts limestone rocks located near Astola Island, a small island in Balochistan, Pakistan.

Fact: The claim is false. The image is from Cabo San Lucas, a resort city at the southern tip of Mexico, where limestone rocks known as “El Arco” have formed over time as a result of natural erosion.

On 18 July 2022, Facebook page Beautiful Balochistan shared an image with the caption, “3 Hours Away From Astola Island Gwadar Balochistan”.

Astola Island, also known as Jezira Haft Talar or ‘Island of the Seven Hills’, is a small uninhabited island in the Arabian Sea. The island is part of the Pasni subdistrict of Gwadar District in Balochistan province.

Fact or Fiction?

The image in question features tall white rocks and the accompanying caption claims that the rocks are located three hours away from Astola Island in Balochistan.

Soch Fact Check conducted a Google Reverse Image Search and found that the images are actually from Mexico’s resort city Cabo San Lucas.

A TinEye image search turned up 1,423 results. It also led to stock image website Alamy, where the image in question is credited to Larry Dunmire, a professional photojournalist based in the United States.

A keyword search on Google using the phrase “Larry Dunmire Cabo” turned up the same image available on the website Superstock.

Virality

To investigate the virality of the image shared with the false claim, Soch Fact Check conducted a CrowdTangle analysis for the 7-day period from 13 July to 20 July 2022 using the following search terms:

  • “Astola Island Gwadar”
  • “Astola Island”

The first search term did not turn up any results.

The second search term yielded 8,000 interactions across 17 photo posts on Facebook. Posts carrying the image with the misleading claim and shared between 18-20 July 2022 can be seen here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

The image shared by Beautiful Balochistan received 17,000 likes, 600 comments, and 1,100 shares within 3 days. While a people few commented that the image is not from within Pakistan, the majority assumed the rocks were indeed located in Balochistan.

An organic search on Facebook showed that posts claiming the image is of rocks in Balochistan date as far back as 2015. Facebook page Go Green Pakistan first shared the image with the false claim on 23 September 2015. On 5 July 2016 the image was again shared on a Facebook page called Astola Island.

Conclusion: The claim that a viral image of tall white rocks was shot near Astola Island, Balochistan is false. The image is, in fact, of limestone rocks in Cabo San Lucas, a resort city at the southern tip of Mexico.

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