Scientific data on natural ball lightning is scarce due to its infrequency and unpredictability. The presumption of its existence is based on reported sightings from the public, and have therefore produced somewhat inconsistent findings. Due to inconsistencies and the lack of any reliable data, the true nature of ball lightning is still unknown. Until recently, ball lightning was often regarded as a fantasy or a hoax. Reports of the phenomenon were dismissed due to lack of physical evidence, and were often regarded the same way as UFO sightings. Recently however, the overwhelming number of sightings has caused a renewed interest in studying the possible existence and nature of the phenomenon.
Natural ball lightning appears infrequently and unpredictably, and is therefore rarely photographed. However there do exist several photos and even videos of what people claim to be ball lightning.