"Our phones just started going off," Kendall Harlan, one of the women, told Yahoo News. "Friends were texting us [things] like, 'Did you know you were just on "Good Morning America"?'"
The photo—showing a tour guide in the water behind the women lift the stingray onto their backs just as the photo was taken—was snapped during a 2008 spring break trip to Stingray City, a popular tourist destination in the Cayman Islands, when the trio (Harlan, Sarah Bourland and Natalie Zaysoff) were sophomores at Texas Christian University. They uploaded the photo to Facebook, where it was shared by friends. But it did not achieve viral status until last week, when a former classmate posted it on Reddit.com.
[Related: Stingray photobomb goes viral]
Harlan, now a 24-year-old advertising executive in Austin, Texas, says a picture taken right before the now-famous photobomb shows the co-eds smiling while posing in the water with a stingray. The tour guide threw another stingray up behind them, and the rest is Internet history.
Bourland, Zaysoff and Harlan pose with a stingray shortly before the "photobomb." (Kendall Harlan)
Harlan added that she did not know the two older women in the photo who appear to be laughing as the three recoil in terror.
Discovery Channel sent "Dirty Jobs" host Mike Rowe to find Stingrays: