2015’s Biggest Moments

For better or for worse, no one can call 2015 boring. From meeting Caitlyn Jenner and seeing the first image of Pluto to the deaths of Walter Scott and Alan Kurdi — we used our analytics at WhereOnThe.Net to trace where and when these noteworthy photographs from 2015 have been used online.

Global Discovery of “Cat Island”

It’s raining cats,” Thomas Peter 2015, Reuters.

Every cat lover’s wildest dream came true when photographs were released in early March of Aoshima — a small island in southern Japan where felines outnumber humans six to one.

This image of the cats crowding at the harbor went viral instantly after it was posted, reaching over 15,000 hits less than one month later. Stories about this gem can be found on publications like The Atlantic and Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News.

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Video of Walter Scott’s Death

Feidin Santana 2015

This image is a still from a video captured on Feidin Santana’s cell phone that shows police officer Michael Salger shooting Walter Scott eight times in the back in Charleston, S.C. on April 4. A true example of citizen journalism, the still image has traveled from social media to news outlets, such as Huffington Post and NBC News, and even appeared on the cover of TIME.

Since first appearing online in April, the image has been featured on over 370 websites and 3,100 unique pages.

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Calbuco Volcano Eruption

epaselect CHILE VOLCANO,” Alex Vidal Brecas 2015, European Pressphoto Agency (EPA).

On April 22, Chile’s Calbuco volcano erupted for the first time in 43 years. Photographer Alex Vidal Brecas was there to capture the moment and told The Guardian that this particular photograph was taken at dusk, 45 minutes after the eruption.

While the image has only appeared on 160 websites, it has a unique distribution spanning from Washington Post and National Geographic Italy to Tumblr and People.

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Call Me Caitlyn

He Says Goodbye, She Says Hello,” Annie Leibovitz 2015, Vanity Fair.

Transgender issues were brought to the forefront when Caitlyn Jenner, formerly known as Bruce, admitted her struggle with gender identity in an interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer in April. The Olympic gold medalist and reality television star later made her feminine debut through a feature in the July 2015 issue of Vanity Fair.

The most viral on the list, this cover generated over 19,700 hits after its June release. As expected, Caitlyn stirred up a vast amount of media coverage throughout the rest of the year — including Entertainment Tonight reporting on the inspired Halloween costume and LGBT editorials on BuzzFeed.

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Public Premiere of Pluto

Global Mosaic of Pluto in True Color,” NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI 2015.

This image was taken by the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) aboard NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft and is considered to be the first ever picture of Pluto, according to TIME. The high-resolution image was released on July 13, over nine years after the two cameras that shot it left Earth.

Pluto has now appeared on nearly 1,300 websites and more than 10,000 unique pages. While over 51 percent of occurrences are from TB-3 in Russia, the image also appears on websites like The Onion and Independent.

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Blatter’s Money Shower

Arnd Wiegmann, 2015, Reuters.

Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) President Sepp Blatter resigned from his post in June after spending a year embroiled in a corruption scandal. Later on July 20, FIFA held a press conference during which a man later identified as British comedian Simon Brodkin threw two packets of fake bills over the outgoing president before being escorted out by security.

This image of Blatter has reached roughly 120 websites and 300 unique pages since its release, including Daily Mail and CBC Sports.

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The Body of Alan Kurdi

Nilufer Demir 2015, Dogan News Agency (DHA).

Hearts broke around the world when this photograph of three-year-old Alan Kurdi’s dead body lying face down on a Turkish shore released in early September. While the image was published on the front pages of newspapers, it gained much of its power from the millions of shares on social media and became a symbol for the suffering of refugees.

Over 470 websites and nearly 4,000 unique pages have hosted the picture. It has also sparked news features, on CNN for instance, and a vast amount of editorials, like this one from the Montreal Gazette

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Terror Attacks on Paris

Jerome Delay 2015, Associated Press (AP).

On the evening of November 13, a series of seven coordinated terror attacks shook the city of Paris and left at least 130 people dead. This particular photograph depicts a victim outside the Bataclan theatre — the most deadly of the attacks with a total of 89 who lost their lives.

The image immediately went viral, reaching nearly 600 of its 625 total occurrences before the end of November. It has been used on 100 websites throughout the globe, from the Chicago Tribune to Tiin Vietnam.

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Got a favorite photograph from 2015 you’d like to learn more about? Find out where it is and where it’s been with WhereOnThe.Net and share your results with us.


WhereOnThe.Net traces how images spread online. Whether you want to find copies of your own work or track viral images, we crawl the Internet and show you all the sites it has appeared on and it’s growth over time.

Images used in this article are used subject to news reporting and quotation exemptions in German copyright law, but if you are the rightsholder and think it should be taken down, please let us know. For any questions, please email us at contact@whereonthe.net.