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By Eric Shackle

Copies of a breathtakingly beautiful photograph showing a massive iceberg above and below the surface of the ocean are currently circling the globe in emails relayed by many of its admirers. The picture is captioned:

This is really a beautiful photo.
Now you know why the Titanic sank! This came from a Rig Manager for Global Marine Drilling in St. Johns, Newfoundland.
They actually have to divert the path of these things away from the rig by towing them with ships!
Anyway, in this particular case the water was calm & the sun was almost directly overhead so that the diver was able to get into the water and click this pic. Clear water, huh?! They estimated the weight at 300,000,000 tons.
(And now we know why they say one picture is worth 1000 words.)

Having a suspicious nature, and being aware of the truth of the adage Don't Believe Everything You See on the Internet, I decided to check it out, if only to find out just how the intrepid photographer had achieved the apparently impossible feat of taking a shot over and under the water at the same time.

First port of call was Global Marine Drilling. That showed them to be a big mechanically-minded corporation, more intent on drilling for oil than to worry about photos of icebergs.

Then, still searching webpages referring to Global Marine Drilling, I struck paydirt, if not oil, at LIEmails. A report there read:

"Global Marine Drilling does do work in the ocean off Newfoundland; there are Rig Managers involved; and icebergs really are towed in the offshore industry - but this 'photo' is really a composite of 4 separate images, put together in 1999 by underwater photographer Ralph A. Clevenger. It's probably best known from its use on a motivational poster put out by Successories, a company that produces posters and other materials with inspirational mottoes for use in business settings. Icebergs off Newfoundland may weigh as much as several million tons, but not 300 million tons as stated (though they do occasionally reach that weight in other parts of the world)."

Finally, another website, explained just how the iceberg picture was produced:

"The picture was not taken by an oil drilling worker and is not a simple, single photograph," it said, adding that it had found and communicated with the creator of the picture, underwater photographer Ralph Clevenger, who had written:

"I created the image as a way of illustrating the concept of what you get is not necessarily what you see. As a professional photographer I knew that I couldn't get an actual shot of an iceberg the way I envisioned it, so I created the final image by compositing several images I had taken. The two halves of the iceberg are 2 separate shots, one taken in Alaska and one taken in Antarctica (neither is underwater). The only underwater part is the background taken off the coast of California. The sky is the last component. It took a lot of research on lighting and scale to get the berg to look real."

TruthOrFiction added: "We have not posted the picture because it is licensed to The use of the picture in the circulated emails is without permission."

Ah well, it's still a great picture! Congratulations to Ralph Clevenger on having designed it, and to Successories, based in Aurora, Illinois, on marketing it so successfully. Their caption explains what the iceberg photo depicts:

The Essence of Imagination (Iceberg): What we can easily see is only a small percentage of what is possible. Imagination is having the vision to see what is just below the surface; to picture that which is essential, but invisible to the eye.

The company says its annual sales from its catalog operations and nationwide network of 74 retail locations are in excess of fifty million dollars. Its website says: "Successories is dedicated to helping organizations and individuals realize their full potential... Our unique collection of themed merchandise is designed to promote a positive outlook, celebrate human achievement, and inspire excellence in your career, your business, and your life. Our goal is simple to help you reach yours."

You can view the picture by clicking on, then clicking on the words "View larger Image."

I'd like to buy a wood-framed matted print of that iceberg picture, but it's priced at $155.99. Of course, I COULD simply copy it from their website!



Two crusaders campaigning against the many lies, distortions, and misleading statements on the Internet, David Grant (LIEmails) and Dr. Rich Buhler (TruthOrFiction) both investigated the Iceberg Picture phenomenon, and have generously agreed to their findings being published in this article.

Editor David Grant says: "LIEmails is an independent, non-denominational ministry whose purpose is to educate Christians about e-mail lies. E-mail lies are a growing problem, including among Christians. Because Christians who spread e-mail lies injure their credibility, and thus do harm to the Kingdom of God, we want to help Christians understand and avoid this problem."

David, who is 40 years old, and his wife Karen live in Slidell, a suburb about 36 miles (60 km) north of New Orleans, Louisiana. He's a man of many parts: a self-employed consultant in the public transit industry, coordinator of ("the premier source for information about Christian coffeehouses and concerts in the New Orleans area,") and a weekend announcer at WSHO-AM Radio in New Orleans. He also writes a bi-weekly column, news and feature stories for the Slidell edition of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, and is author of the Days Off Calculator ("unique, easy-to-use software that makes it easy for managers to optimize employee work schedule").

Dr. Buhler, founder and operator of is a speaker, author, minister, and broadcaster who has researched and written about rumors and urban legends for more than 30 years. He's best known as the host of a nationally syndicated, daily, live radio talk show that was broadcast from Los Angeles for 15 years.

He said " is a web site where Internet users can quickly and easily get information about warnings, offers, requests for help, and humorous or inspirational stories that are circulated by email. The site is designed to be of value to the ordinary user of the Internet who wants to make sure that an email story contains information, not misinformation.

"Every story on has either been personally researched by the staff or, in some cases, is known to be a classic rumor or urban legend that has stood the test of time. As much as possible, the sources of our information are included in the stories."

Copyright 2001. Eric Shackle Story first posted October 2001.

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