Iceberg Image on Tablet Screen
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Global Marine Drilling Iceberg Photo Hoax

by Brett M. Christensen

This story was first published on 18th March 2008 – Iceberg Image Credit: Ralph Clevenger

According to this long circulated message, a compelling and beautiful image depicting an iceberg is an actual photograph shot by a diver working for Global Marine Drilling in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

The message claims that, because of calm, clear water and the position of the sun at the time, the photographer was able to capture a shot that includes the view of the ice both above and beneath the water.

However, these claims are untrue. In fact, the image is a composite created by photographer Ralph Clevenger. The image was used in a series of posters marketed by Successories, a site that provides motivational media of various kinds.

An article about the image on the Diane Farris Gallery website notes:

The picture was not taken by an oil drilling worker and is not a simple, single photograph created by 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.”

Global Marine Drilling is a real company that engages in offshore drilling projects in various parts of the world, including Newfoundland. And icebergs really are towed. Information about icebergs on the Provincial Aerospace website notes:

Towing icebergs was first demonstrated in 1971. It is now a common practice in the management of icebergs for the offshore oil industry. Towing may not be the best term however, as often massive icebergs are merely deflected slightly from their paths. The tow is arranged by a vessel navigating around a berg while paying out a floating tow line. A junction is made so that the berg is lasooed and then tow tension is applied carefully to avoid rolling the berg or pulling the line over the top.

However, in spite of the claims in this message, Global Marine Drilling has no connection whatsoever to Ralph Clevenger’s iceberg image.


Subject: Fw: Iceberg


This is awesome!

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 and 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.

Iceberg Image
Image credit: Ralph Clevenger

Importance Notice

After considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.

These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.

Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.

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Thank you, one and all!

Brett Christensen,