From the article:
"… he saw was an example of an optical illusion known as a superior mirage, which occurs when the temperature difference between the sea and the air causes a change in air density and forces light from the sun to bend around the horizon.
Cold air usually sits on top of warm air — the more one climbs, the colder it gets. But on that sunny morning in Cornwall last month, the situation was reversed: Cold air lay above the chilly sea, with warm air on top.
The temperature inversion produced a mirage. The light coming from the ship toward Mr. Morris was refracted, because meteorological conditions formed layers of air that had different temperatures, making light travel through them at a different speed.
The ship appeared higher than it should be, because the human brain —and, as it turns out, cameras — can’t process the effect that different temperatures have on how images are perceived.
(Hang in there.)
Light usually travels to the eyes through straight lines, which lets them see things in a straight way, said Dr. Claire Cisowski, a research fellow in optics at the University of Glasgow.
But, she said, “sometimes an image is deflected when the rays of light that reach us go through different layers.”
That is what happens when looking through water: A straw in a glass of water, or a hand immersed in the sea, might look out of alignment, because light travels through air and water at different speeds."
I’ve seen squiggly lines on roads on hot days but nothing anywhere close to a flying ship like in the picture. Good explanation from the article.
Such pictures are quite common. Especially In the Gulf of Oman I witnessed many Fata Morgana images. Sometimes the ships were shown upside down! Rather confusing were images where the ship sat on the water but later it disappeared and as it turned out the real ship was sailing well beneath the horizon!