As I was taking the ferry back from Victoria the other day, I took the picture above. I was seeing a mirage! I had always seen those common road mirages before, where the sun hits the road and it looks like there are black oil slicks ahead of you which fade out as you come near them, but this was completely different. This mirage lasted for hours, and stretched the entire horizon. When I first saw it, I wasn't even on the ferry. I was on the Victoria waterfront. At first, I thought it was a change in water current/color, but as the day went on, it looked more like a fog bank. For some reason though, it looked slightly different. When I got a closer look and saw distorted images like the one above (there is a false image of a boat on top of the boat already there) I knew it was a mirage. And my findings were confirmed when we headed into the "fog bank" only to see the "fog" mysteriously thin out before dying away.
As far as I can remember, this is the first real mirage (besides the ones on roads) that I have seen. It was an incredible sight. Some additional photos are below. They appear chronologically in the order I took them.
Looking out from the marina.
Another boat. See the two layers?
Taken a few seconds later... boat isn't distorted anymore!
Looking back at Vancouver Island
It looks a lot like a fog bank, but something is different.
The two layers of distortion!!!
As you can see, this mirage was heavily documented by yours truly. I wish I had a better camera! But these are still some great pictures.
I did a little research on mirages. There are two types. Inferior mirages are where the image is below the actual object. Superior mirages are where the image is above the actual object The pictures below are inferior mirages over the Mojave Desert.
Photographed by Mila Zinkova in Primm, Nevada on April 4, 2007. Released into the public domain.
Road mirage over the Mojave:
Photo credit to scottthezombie. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0
I found a diagram on how a inferior mirage works on the web! Hopefully this clears some things up.
Photo Credit: Keith C. Heidorn, PhD. aka "The Weather Doctor"
The mirage I saw was a superior mirage. Here is another example of a superior mirage so you have something to compare my pictures to. The picture was taken of Point Reyes National Seashore from San Francisco.
Photo credit: Mila Zinkova. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0
Here is another diagram from "The Weather Doctor" depicting what happens in a superior mirage.
And finally, here is a diagram from the same guy depicting what I probably saw! You can see the "Haze Zone" in this diagram, which I interpreted as a fog bank. It also says that the mountains appear higher than normal. I didn't notice anything different about the mountains, but I wasn't really paying much attention to them.
Finally, some good websites for extra reading. Both written by "The Weather Doctor!" This guy knows what he is doing.
http://www.islandnet.com/~see/weather/elements/infmrge.htm - inferior mirages
http://www.islandnet.com/~see/weather/elements/supmrge.htm - superior mirages
Whew! That post took me 100 minutes. Hope you enjoyed it!