'Hovering ship' photographed off Cornish coast by walker

Published
image copyrightDavid Morris/APEX
image captionAn optical illusion caused the ship to appear as though it was hovering above the horizon

Images of what appears to be a hovering ship have been captured as the result of a rare optical illusion off the coast of England.

David Morris took a photo of the ship near Falmouth, Cornwall.

BBC meteorologist David Braine said the "superior mirage" occurred because of "special atmospheric conditions that bend light".

He said the illusion is common in the Arctic, but can appear "very rarely" in the UK during winter.

Mr Morris said he was "stunned" after capturing the picture while looking out to sea from the hamlet of Gillan

Mr 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.

image copyrightDavid Morris/APEX
image captionDavid Morris took the photographs from the hamlet of Gillan, near Falmouth

"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."

More on this story