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In the shimmering heat of the Saudi desert, it could be dismissed as a mirage – but photographer Khaled Al Enazi. has the pictures to prove he really did spot a giant fish-shaped rock emerging from the sands.
Al Enazi captured images of the unusual formation using a drone while recording the archaeological treasures of Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ula county – an area known for ancient structures that rival Jordan’s Petra city.
“While I was documenting the area, a view of a mountain appeared in front of me, its shape suggesting a fish in the heart of the desert,” he told CNN via email.
Al Enazi says he’s probably not the first person to encounter the rock formation, but he believes his aerial perspective meant he was the first to note its curious shape.
“A photographer’s eye sees what people do not see,” he said.
The photographer fittingly named the rock Desert Fish.
In drone footage recorded by Al Enazi in June this year, the rock formation resembles an aquatic creature swimming through the golden sand, its dorsal fin-like structures also suggesting it could be a shark emerging from the depths to stalk its prey.
Since his images were shared, Al Enazi has had to disappoint imaginative social media users who claimed the rocks are actually the remains of a giant sea beast.
“Some have mentioned that it is a real fish that was fossilized millions of years ago, but that’s not the case,” he said. “It is sandstone formed by many factors.”
Video of Desert Fish shared in a tweet in July has amassed more than 29,000 views.
The photographer is currently working on creating his own YouTube channel dedicated to documenting the Al-Ula region and its fascinating landscape.
Covering nearly 9,000 square miles (22,500 square kilometers), Al-Ula county is home to one of the world’s most dramatic desert scenes.
Ancient Nabataeans established their major southern city just north of Al-Ula valley and carved spectacular tombs into rocky outcrops at Mada’in Salih, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Some of Al-Ula’s rocks, carved by the elements, have taken on surprisingly sculptural – and human – forms.
One rock, known locally as Jabal Al-Fil, is famous for its resemblance to an elephant.
Top image credit: Khaled Zaad Al Enazi