Residents of Mount Maunganui in New Zealand could be forgiven for thinking they had stumbled into an episode of The X-Files last month when a hovering ship appeared above their local beach.
Footage captured by a woman named Monika Schaffner was posted to a Mount Maunganui community Facebook page on 22 April showing a ship seemingly sailing through the air, significantly higher than the horizon.
“Check out this optical phenomenon filmed by Monika Schaffner at Mount Maunganui yesterday,” the caption read.
Check out this optical phenomenon filmed by Monika Schaffner at Mount Maunganui yesterday.
Posted by Mount Maunganui, New Zealand on Wednesday, 22 April 2020
Schaffner told The New Zealand Herald she was travelling through the area when she looked out over the ocean and saw what looked like a large object hovering over the sea.
“I filmed this optical phenomenon that made a ship look like it was floating in the air,” she said.
“It was like seeing something unreal. I thought my eyes are playing a trick on me.
“I had to ask my partner if he sees the same as me. So I asked him to pull over so I could take a photo.”
According to the Kiwi media outlet, what Schaffner saw was called “Fata Morgana”, which is a complex form of superior mirage that is seen as a narrow band of light above the horizon.
It usually occurs when rays of light bend as they pass layers of air that are different temperatures. In this case, it appears a layer of warmer air resting over cold dense air has formed an “atmospheric duct” that has acted as a refracting lens.
The phenomenon causes ships to distort and appear bigger or smaller than they are and sometimes upside down.
Some reports indicate Fata Morgana could be responsible for some UFO sightings and could even explain the legend of the Flying Dutchman.
Featured image: Facebook/Mount Maunganui, New Zealand