ABOUT

Avid outdoorsman and underwater photographer, Barry Brown has spent the last ten years documenting life above and below water in Curacao, Netherlands Antilles. He is currently working with the Smithsonian Institution documenting new Caribbean deep-water species and building a one of a kind database. His underwater images can regularly be seen in Sport Diver, Scuba Diver and on the Ikelite website. His image of a "Collage of Corals" seen under blue-light at night recently placed in the TOP 10 images for the 2014 NANPA (North American Nature Photographers Association) photo contest.

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Jul 31, 15     Comments (0)

BAR-

BAR-

Good morning friends, after photographing the sub yesterday and waving goodbye I swam over to my giant school of Boga’s and joined them for around 15 minutes. These fish are so amazing and always the highlight to any dive! Instead of swimming away in fear they always swim to me then surround me allowing me to join their school. They seem to have no fear of the camera or the flashes thus allowing me to snap away at my leisure, it’s a total blast! Yesterday they were swimming just a few feet over the reef, normally they are very high in the water column and no where near the reef so yesterday was a real treat.

So why do fish swim in schools? It’s called the “safety factor against predators”. A potential predator hunting for a meal might become confused by the closely spaced school, which can give the impression of one vast and frightening fish. Additionally, there is the concept of “safety in numbers”—a predator cannot consume and unlimited quantity of prey. The sheer number of fish in a school allows species to hide behind each other, thus confusing a predator by the alteration of shapes and colors presented as the school swims along. Of course, those on the outside edges of the school are more likely to be eaten than those in the center. Predatory fish also gain from schooling because it gives them the ability to travel in large numbers in search of food. Also a very prevalent behavior, schooling is exhibited by almost 80 percent of the more than 20,000 known fish species during some phase of their life cycle. In many ways fish schools are much like herds of land animals or flocks of airborne birds. There is that undefined need to stay together. In some instances this herding has been the undoing of certain species, meaning if your all together your much easier to catch! I sure love my Boga’s, it’s a total blast to slowly swim thru the school and not be able to see anything around you except fish, you should try it!

I have to get out to the sea, have a great weekend!!

Barry

Jul 30, 15     Comments (0)

BAR-

Good morning all, I had a request asking about any strange plants we have on the island and immediately I thought of these beautiful/very deadly seeds we picked up years ago at a place called Malpais, which sounds like mal-pie-ese. When we first found these Abrus seeds Aimee and I were so excited and scrabbled around on all fours picking them up as fast as we could knowing we had just discovered the coolest seed on the planet. Our plans were to collect as many as we could and make jewelry with them down the road, I mean look as these things, they are super beautiful and never loose their color or hardness. Little did we know at the time that just handling them like we were doing was mega dangerous, this was a case of knowledge is power and I wished we would have done some research first. A few hours after getting home with our seeds I contacted a local friend on the island who immediately said “bury those things deep and wash your hands, they are bad news!” Well I of course didn’t bury them, I kept them in an air tight container as I wanted to photograph them sometime down the road but I will dispose of them when I am finished, such a shame as they are so cool!

Abrus precatorius, known commonly as jequirity, Crab’s eye, rosary pea, precatory pea or bean, John Crow Bead, Indian licorice, Akar Saga, gidee gidee or Jumbie bead in Trinidad & Tobago, is a slender, perennial climber that twines around trees, shrubs, and hedges. It is a legume with long, pinnate-leafleted leaves.

The plant is best known for its seeds, which are used as beads and in percussion instruments, and which are toxic due to the presence of Abrin. The plant is native to India and grows in tropical and subtropical areas of the world where it has been introduced. It has a tendency to become weedy and invasive where it has been introduced.

The toxin abrin is a dimer consisting of two protein subunits, termed A and B. The B chain facilitates abrin’s entry into a cell by bonding to certain transport proteins on cell membranes, which then transport the toxin into the cell. Once inside the cell, the A chain prevents protein synthesis by inactivating the 26S subunit of the ribosome. One molecule of abrin will inactivate up to 1,500 ribosomes per second.

Symptoms are identical to those of ricin, except abrin is more toxic by almost two orders of magnitude; the fatal dose of abrin is approximately 75 times smaller than the fatal dose of ricin. Abrin has an LD-50 of only 0.56 μg(micrograms)/kg in mice, and Kingsbury lists a toxic dose in humans at 0.00015% body weight, or approximately 0.1 mg for a 150 lb human. Ingesting the intact seeds typically results in no clinical findings, as they pass through the gastrointestinal tract due to their hard shell.

Abrus precatorius, called kudri mani in Tamil and Guruvinda ginja in Telugu, has been used in Siddha medicine for centuries. The Tamil Siddhars knew about the toxic effects in plants and suggested various methods which is called “suththi seythal” or purification. This is done by boiling the seeds in milk and then drying them. The protein is denatured when subjected to high temperatures which removes its toxicity.

In March 2012 a recall was issued for bracelets made using Jequirity Beans sold by the Eden Project and other outlets in the UK.

This plant is also poisonous to horses.

Symptoms of poisoning include nausea, vomiting, convulsions, liver failure, and death, usually after several days. The seeds have been used as beads in jewelry, which is dangerous; inhaled dust is toxic and pinpricks can be fatal. The seeds are unfortunately attractive to children. The seeds of Abrus precatorius are much valued in native jewelry for their bright coloration. Most beans are black and red, suggesting a ladybug, though other colors are available. Jewelry-making with jequirity seeds is dangerous, and there have been cases of death by a finger-prick while boring the seeds for beadwork.

Took the day off yesterday with Aimee and the three hounds. We went out to Saint Joris bay and started working on photos for a mangrove project, I will send those photos when I get them ready, really interesting stuff..

I have to be in the water at 11:00, see you all soon.

Barry

Jul 28, 15     Comments (0)

BAR-

Good morning all, how is your day going?? I just got out of the water from another snorkel session with the coconut shooting more split-level photos like I posted a few days ago. Why you ask when I already had some nice shots?? The photo I posted was taken for a book titled “Just Like Us” Plants and all rights to that image have been sold, so in order for me to have our own shots I had to go out and do it again. With that said “going out again” does not always produce the image one hopes for, I had much better water and light for the last shoot but did exit with a few fun shots. Who knew coconuts could be so much fun to swim with and they love to have their photo taken! 

I have a beautiful little colony of delicate finger coral for you all today that I recently found growing on the side a big rock that I swim by quite often, I just never noticed this growing there before. Stony corals or hard corals, are marine animals in the phylum Cnidaria that live on the seabed and build themselves a hard skeleton. Although some species are solitary, most are colonial. The founding polyp settles on the seabed and starts to secrete a calcium carbonate skeleton to protect its soft body. Solitary corals can be as much as 25 cm (10 in) across but in colonial species the polyps are usually only a few millimeters in diameter. These polyps reproduce by budding but remain attached to each other, forming a multi-polyp unit, which may be meters in diameter or height.

The shape and appearance of each coral colony depends not only on the species, but also on its location, depth, the amount of water movement and other factors. Many shallow-water corals contain symbiont unicellular organisms known as zooxanthellae within their tissues. These give their color to the coral which thus may vary in hue depending on what species of symbiont it contains. Stony corals are closely related to sea anemones, and like them are armed with stinging cells known as cnidocytes.

Stony corals are members of the class Anthozoa and like other members of the group, do not have a medusa stage in their life cycle. The individual animals are known as polyps and have a cylindrical body crowned by an oral disc surrounded by a ring of tentacles. The base of the polyp secretes the stony material from which the coral skeleton is formed. The body wall of the polyp consists of mesoglea sandwiched between two layers of epidermis. The mouth is at the centre of the oral disc and leads into a tubular pharynx which descends for some distance into the body before opening into the gastrovascular cavity that fills the interior of the body and tentacles. Unlike other cnidarians however, the cavity is subdivided by a number of radiating partitions, thin sheets of living tissue, known as mesenteries. The gonads are also located within the cavity walls. The polyp is retractable into the corallite, the stony cup in which it sits, being pulled back by sheet-like retractor muscles.

The polyps are connected by horizontal sheets of tissue known as coenosarc extending over the outer surface of the skeleton and completely covering it. These sheets are continuous with the body wall of the polyps, and include extensions of the gastrovascular cavity, so that food and water can circulate between all the different members of the colony. In colonial species, the repeated asexual division of the polyps causes the corallites to be interconnected, thus forming the colonies. Also, cases exist in which the adjacent colonies of the same species form a single colony by fusing. Most colonial species have very small polyps, ranging from 1 to 3 mm (0.04 to 0.12 in) in diameter, although some solitary species may be as large as 25 cm (10 in).

The skeleton of an individual scleractinian polyp is known as a corallite. It is secreted by the epidermis of the lower part of the body, and initially forms a cup surrounding this part of the polyp. The interior of the cup contains radially aligned plates, or septa, projecting upwards from the base. Each of these plates is flanked by a pair of mesenteries.

The septa are secreted by the mesenteries, and are therefore added in the same order as the mesenteries are. As a result, septa of different ages are adjacent to one another, and the symmetry of the scleractinian skeleton is radial or biradial. This pattern of septal insertion is termed “cyclic” by paleontologists. By contrast, in some fossil corals, adjacent septa lie in order of increasing age, a pattern termed serial and produces a bilateral symmetry. Scleractinians are also distinguished from the Rugosa by their pattern of septal insertion. They secrete a stony exoskeleton in which the septa are inserted between the mesenteries in multiples of six.

All modern scleractinian skeletons are composed of calcium carbonate in the form of crystals of aragonite, however, a prehistoric scleractinian (Coelosimilia) had a non-aragonite skeletal structure which was composed of calcite. The structure of both simple and compound scleractinians is light and porous, rather than solid as is the case in the prehistoric order Rugosa.

Have a great day….

Barry

Jul 27, 15     Comments (0)

BAR-

Good morning friends, I have another funny fish face for you all today that was again taken during the day but looks like it was taken at night. I always try to use a much higher f-stop like f-16 for instance to darken the backgrounds which helps to eliminate distractions keeping the focus just on  the animal. And, the higher f-stop will give you much more detail, you just have to add more light when shooting. I believe this is a Redtail Parrotfish because of the black blotch at the base of the pectoral fin but I have been wrong before!

Like all parrotfish they have the most unique and comical facial expressions, it’s trying to get them to look at the camera that is the hard part! Here is Curacao we have so many different parrotfish with names like…. Rainbow, Queen, Stoplight, Princess, Striped, Redband, Redtail, Yellowtail, Greenblotch, Bucktooth and Bluelip. There is also the Blue and the Midnight but you will have to go Bonaire to see those and there is a little Emerald but I have never seen one around here.

Parrotfish are so-called because their fused teeth give their mouths a beak-like appearance. These teeth are situated outside the jaw bones, so the beak protrudes beyond the mouth. This is perfect for scraping algae from the surface of rocky substrates, but can also get past one of the algae’s defenses — growing within the matrix of the coral itself. In some species, such as the hump-headed parrotfish, the beak can take a chunk out of the reef itself. Interestingly, although the parrotfish eat the polyps themselves, these herbivorous fishes are probably primarily Interested in the zooxanthellae contained within the coral’s tissues, rather than the coral itself.

To counteract their tough diet, parrotfishes teeth grow continuously. But those that form the beak are not the only teeth that these remarkable fish have; the plate-like pharyngeal teeth towards the back of the mouth can bring considerable crushing force to bear, pulverizing even the tough limestone. After this, the coral’s resistance is at an end. In the fish’s gut, living tissue is separated from the limestone rubble and powder. This ground material is ejected by the parrotfish as fine, white grains, which makes up a considerable proportion of the highly prized white sand found in coral reef lagoons and beaches!

Got in another four hour 40 mile mountain bike ride yesterday, it’s amazing how much of the remote parts of the island you can see on this trip and how much food and water one needs to carry. 

Lots to do…

Barry

Jul 24, 15     Comments (0)

BAR-

Good morning friends, it’s finally friday!! I have a beautiful school of snappers for you all today that we found living under a remote pier, or at least what was left of it. I know when most of you hear the word “snapper” your mouth starts watering and you immediately associate this with dinner but for me it means keeping them safe and enjoying the time I spend with them underwater getting to be part of their aqua world for just a few minutes. Most of the time when I find these large groups of fish I just stop and chill in hopes of showing them that I come in peace and just want to take a few photos and most of the time it works. Most diver are in such a rush that they don’t have the time to stop and smell the fish thus scaring them off immediately and I can tell you from experience that chasing fish doesn’t work either, they will win every time! So why do fish school?? Read on..

In biology, any group of fish that stay together for social reasons are shoaling (pronounced /ˈʃoʊlɪŋ/), and if the group is swimming in the same direction in a coordinated manner, they are schooling (pronounced /ˈskuːlɪŋ/). In common usage, the terms are sometimes used rather loosely. About one quarter of fishes shoal all their lives, and about one half of fishes shoal for part of their lives.

Fish derive many benefits from shoaling behavior including defence against predators (through better predator detection and by diluting the chance of individual capture), enhanced foraging success, and higher success in finding a mate. It is also likely that fish benefit from shoal membership through increased hydrodynamic efficiency.

Fish use many traits to choose shoal mates. Generally they prefer larger shoals, shoal mates of their own species, shoal mates similar in size and appearance to themselves, healthy fish, and kin (when recognized).

The “oddity effect” posits that any shoal member that stands out in appearance will be preferentially targeted by predators. This may explain why fish prefer to shoal with individuals that resemble themselves. The oddity effect would thus tend to homogenize shoals.

I got in a fast 30 mile mountain bike ride last night and have another 40 mile ride planned for this coming sunday, trying hard to hold onto what little in shapeness I still have. We have a submersible dive here late this afternoon starting at 1:15, you might see us at the link below if you have time. 

www.seasubmarine.com

Have a great weekend….

Barry

Jul 23, 15     Comments (0)

BAR-

Good morning friends, I was busy yesterday working on a photo request for a new book coming out called “Just Like Us” Plants and they needed a photo of a floating coconut. Did you know that when coconut seeds drop from the trees they can travel over water for up to 200 plus days and then hopefully find their way to shore where they will grow a new tree.

The coconut has spread across much of the tropics, probably aided in many cases by seafaring people. Coconut fruit in the wild are light, buoyant and highly water resistant, and evolved to disperse significant distances via marine currents. Specimens have been collected from the sea as far north as Norway. In the Hawaiian Islands, the coconut is regarded as a Polynesian introduction, first brought to the islands by early Polynesian voyagers from their homelands in Oceania. They have been found in the Caribbean and the Atlantic coasts of Africa and South America for less than 500 years, but evidence of their presence on the Pacific coast of South America predates Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the Americas. They are now almost ubiquitous between 26°N and 26°S except for the interiors of Africa and South America.

Here’s some super fun facts from our friends at science Kids about coconuts, read on…

http://www.sciencekids.co.nz/sciencefacts/food/coconuts.html

The coconut comes from the coconut palm tree which grows throughout the tropics and subtropics.

The name coconut is derived from 16th century Portuguese sailors who thought the 3 small holes on the coconut shell resembled the human face so dubbed the fruit “coco” meaning “grinning face, grin, or grimace” The word nut was added in English later on.

The coconut palm (Cocos nucifera) can grow up to 30 m (98 ft) tall and the leave fronds 4–6 m (13.1–19.7 ft) long.

Technically the coconut fruit is a drupe not a nut. Typical drupes include peaches, plums, and cherries.

In the early stages of a coconuts growth it contains high levels of water which can be consumed directly as a refreshing drink. The water is also gaining popularity as a sports drink as it contains good levels of sugars, dietary fiber, proteins, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.

Coconut water can be a substitute for blood plasma. The high level of sugar and other salts make it possible to add the water to the bloodstream, similar to how an IV solution works in modern medicine. Coconut water was known to be used during World War II in tropical areas for emergency transfusions.

Coconut milk is not the same as coconut water. Coconut milk has a high fat content of around 17%, but is low in sugars. It is frequently added to curries and other savory dishes. Coconut cream can also be created from the milk.

Coir (the fiber of the husk) can be used for making ropes, mats, brushes, sacks, caulking for boats, and as stuffing for mattresses.

Coconut leaves have many uses such as for making brooms, woven to make baskets or mats, or dried and used as thatch for roofing.

The white, fleshy part of the coconut seed is called coconut meat. It has high amounts of Manganese, Potassium, and Copper. The meat is used fresh or dried in cooking, especially in confections and desserts such as macaroons.

Copra is the term used for the dried meat. This can be processed to produce coconut oil used in cooking, in soaps, cosmetics, hair-oil, and massage oil.

Wood from the trunk of the coconut palm was traditionally used to build bridges, houses, huts and boats in the tropics. The woods straightness, strength, and salt resistance made it a reliable building material.

The coconut palm is grown in over 80 countries. The top 3 coconut producing countries in 2010 were the Philippines, Indonesia and India.

In Thailand and Malaysia, trained pig-tailed macaques are used to harvest coconuts. In fact, there are still training schools for these monkeys in parts of the countries and each year competitions are held to find the fastest harvester.

The coconut does not get dispersed like other drupe fruits (through consumption by wildlife). Instead the coconut palm disperses its seed using the ocean. A coconut is very buoyant and highly water resistant and can travel very long distances across the ocean.

The Maldives have a coconut palm on the country’s national coat of arms. It is the national tree and considered the most important plant on their islands.

Later all…

Barry

 

 

Jul 21, 15     Comments (0)

BAR-

Good morning all, I have a common Curacao reef scene for you today consisting of a wild looking colony of brown tube sponges, Agelas conifera and a little sea bass hiding amongst them. 

Sponges are animals of the phylum Porifera (/pɒˈrɪfərə/; meaning “pore bearer”). They are multicellular organisms that have bodies full of pores and channels allowing water to circulate through them, consisting of jelly-like mesohyl sandwiched between two thin layers of cells. Sponges have unspecialized cells that can transform into other types and that often migrate between the main cell layers and the mesohyl in the process. Sponges do not have nervous, digestive or circulatory systems. Instead, most rely on maintaining a constant water flow through their bodies to obtain food and oxygen and to remove wastes.

Sponges are similar to other animals in that they are multicellular, heterotrophic, lack cell walls and produce sperm cells. Unlike other animals, they lack true tissues and organs, and have no body symmetry. The shapes of their bodies are adapted for maximal efficiency of water flow through the central cavity, where it deposits nutrients, and leaves through a hole called the osculum. Many sponges have internal skeletons of spongin and/or spicules of calcium carbonate or silicon dioxide. All sponges are sessile aquatic animals. Although there are freshwater species, the great majority are marine (salt water) species, ranging from tidal zones to depths exceeding 8,800 m (5.5 mi).

While most of the approximately 5,000–10,000 known species feed on bacteria and other food particles in the water, some host photosynthesizing micro-organisms as endosymbionts and these alliances often produce more food and oxygen than they consume. A few species of sponge that live in food-poor environments have become carnivores that prey mainly on small crustaceans.

So good news, IT RAINED!! yeah, that’s super wonderful news! The downside is, when it started yesterday I jumped on my bike and was racing home in the rain to get the dogs inside and crashed on the road! Because of all the oil on the roads and the long period of no rain the pavement become like ice after the 1st rain, I knew this and was being careful but still took a hard spill! I was going around one of our round-a-bouts and the bike slipped out from under me sending me on a fast 25 foot eat the pavement adventure ending with the bike and I both slamming into a rock wall! I have yet another swollen knee and cuts all over, it’s like I heal from one crash and then I get another??

I am off to the sea to photograph the sub…

Later, Barry

Jul 20, 15     Comments (0)

Trumpetfish-web

Good morning friends, many have written and asked what kind of fish is always floating in front of our LIVE underwater online video camera that we have at 50 feet out in front of our Substation lagoon. Well as you can see from the photo I took on friday it’s a little reddish/brown trumpetfish which has decided this camera is perfect for his new home. When I went out to take the photo he was right in front of the camera lens as you see here with his head down and tail straight up to the sky but as I got closer he drifted behind the camera and stayed there until I was gone. From a distance I watched as he then came back to the exact location and continued to hang there upside down, what a cool little fish. Pretty amazing that this fish can get up to three foot long! For your chance of spotting him just go to……

www.seasubmarine.com

Waking up tired today from a long 40 mile mountain bike ride yesterday that I did with three other friends and countless other activities during the day…. Yesterday evening Aimee and I carried heavy backpacks filled with water out to water our little agave plants that are dying from lack of moisture, we figure we planted them, so we better keep them alive until the rains come.

Busy day ahead….

Barry

 

Jul 17, 15     Comments Off

BAR-

Good morning friends, it’s once again trying to rain but it’s like it forgot how??? We have a sub run at 11:15 today so everyone here at Substation is either prepping the sub or like myself hauling dive gear outside and getting my camera ready for the dive. Did a short 20 mile bike last night to Vaersenbaai and back and again got stopped by the police riding my bike over the famous floating bridge in Punda. They were going to give me a ticket but I told them I have a sore foot and was unable to walk the bike especially in my cycling shoes with cleats so they let me go again with yet another warning. Aimee nailed it when she said.. “we have an island full of criminal problems and here the cops sit making sure people are not riding their bicycles across the bridge???” Seriously! 

I have another cute fish face photo for you today showing an adult Honeycomb Cowfish with his or hers irresistible “kiss me” lips! These fish are too cool for school all decked out in their crazy reticulated honeycomb pattern and their wild colors which they can lighten or darken in the blink of an eye! When they fish are in “alarm mode” or mating you will see them change from this greenish yellow-blue color to a wild iridescent blueish purple, it’s quite the sight to behold!!

I have to get ready to dive, have a great day!!

Barry

Jul 16, 15     Comments Off

BAR-

Good morning all….. Get this, yesterday morning I saw a rain storm coming while at work and raced home to get the dogs off the porch and put them inside, little did I know Aimee had already done this. When I got home and saw the dogs were not on the porch I turned around (I was on my bike) and headed back to work which is only about a mile. No sooner did I leave and it started to sprinkle and within seconds it started to pour! I immediately gave up trying to outrun it and just enjoyed this long overdo shower and even though it only lasted a few minutes it was enough to make some puddles and give everything a little drink, it was great! I arrived back at work soaked to the bone, so wet in fact that my co-workers grabbed a camera and started taking photos. This was the 1st rain in a long time, the island is completely brown and sad looking so we will take any little shower we can get at this point.

Someone was asking about my resident porcupinefish and if he or she was still there and the answer is YES! When I went out to photograph the sub yesterday he swam out to greet me on the way by and then gently turned around and swam back into his private little cave in the rocks, this fish is just too cool for words! Most days when I swim out he or she is floating high out in the water column above the reef all my itself maybe looking for passing jellyfish or some kind of yummy food. Or because he is so high up above the reef could be searching for a possible mate, who knows, I’m just glad he is still there, it’s always a joy to see this fish out in our crystal clear waters.

 Porcupine fish are part of a family of fish that are called Diodontidae, and are quite often more commonly called the puffer-fish, or the blow fish. They are not in reality puffer-fish, but are related to them. The Porcupine fish sports on its body a wide array of spines that stand erect when the fish inflates and are very often mistaken for puffer-fish. The Porcupine fish has the unique ability of being a fish that can blow up their bodies, or inflate them. They do this by swallowing air or water and will become literally as rounds as a basket ball. The porcupine fish can enlarge himself almost double the size that he was. Scientists think this is another method of self defense for the porcupine fish. He does this to lower the predators who can prey on him to about half what they normally would be if he did not have this ability. His second and probably best defense is that he bears many rows of very sharp spines, and when the porcupine fish blows himself up to full volume, they become erect, and stand straight up and out. Some species of Porcupine fish also bear a venom, or poison that is emitted from the spines. They have what is called a Tetrodoxin within the skin as well as or in addition to in their intestines which means you take your life into your own hands if you want to eat one and preparation should only be done by an expert. As a result of their great methods of self defense the porcupine fish has very few predators that will take them for food. Adult porcupine fish are sometimes a meal for larger fish such as the shark and the Orca, or whale, although this is only rare in occurrence. The younger or juvenile porcupine fish may sometimes be taken and eaten by larger tuna or by dolphins.

Hope all is going well out there, have a wonderful day…

Barry

Jul 15, 15     Comments Off

BAR-

Good morning gang, more weird weather today, the ocean is still a mess and we have overcast skies with little chance for rain and of course lets not forget the never ending winds! We do have another submersible run today which should happen at around 11:15 and your truly will be under the sea taking pictures, you might luck out and see us at the link below….

www.seasubmarine.com

I have another fun fish face for you all today that I took a few weeks ago on our Substation house reef. This is a beautiful parrotfish shot during the day at F22 creating the non-distracting black background and lots of great details. Like all parrotfish they have the most unique and comical facial expressions, it’s trying to get them to look at the camera that is the hard part! Here is Curacao we have so many different parrotfish with names like…. Rainbow, Queen, Stoplight, Princess, Striped, Redband, Redtail, Yellowtail, Greenblotch, Bucktooth and Bluelip. There is also the Blue and the Midnight but you will have to go Bonaire to see those and there is a little Emerald but I have never seen one around here.

Parrotfish are so-called because their fused teeth give their mouths a beak-like appearance. These teeth are situated outside the jaw bones, so the beak protrudes beyond the mouth. This is perfect for scraping algae from the surface of rocky substrates, but can also get past one of the algae’s defenses — growing within the matrix of the coral itself. In some species, such as the hump-headed parrotfish, the beak can take a chunk out of the reef itself. Interestingly, although the parrotfish eat the polyps themselves, these herbivorous fishes are probably primarily Interested in the zooxanthellae contained within the coral’s tissues, rather than the coral itself.

To counteract their tough diet, parrotfishes teeth grow continuously. But those that form the beak are not the only teeth that these remarkable fish have; the plate-like pharyngeal teeth towards the back of the mouth can bring considerable crushing force to bear, pulverizing even the tough limestone. After this, the coral’s resistance is at an end. In the fish’s gut, living tissue is separated from the limestone rubble and powder. This ground material is ejected by the parrotfish as fine, white grains, which makes up a considerable proportion of the highly prized white sand found in coral reef lagoons and beaches!

It’s trying to rain outside and we of course welcome any attempt!

I have to get in the water….

Barry

Jul 14, 15     Comments Off

Two adult females and a one month old baby Atlantic bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus).

Hi gang, well we made it through one very busy day yesterday with three sub dives and 12 collage kids from Bonaire, all doing some kind of studies in marine biology. Our ocean is currently super dirty meaning it’s like diving in pea-soup with different species of jellyfish everywhere! We also have had some raging currents flow through here this past week making diving very difficult and I am sure is responsible for much of this cloudy water. For me taking photos of our submersible in this pea-soup nasty water is about as difficult as underwater photography gets and not even Photoshop can this kind of photo look good again. 

For my poor neglected dolphin fanatics out there, I have a few fun dolphin facts from our friends at www.sciencekids.com for you all today, read on…..

Compared to other animals, dolphins are believed to be very intelligent.

Dolphins are carnivores (meat eaters).

The Killer Whale (also known as Orca) is actually a type of dolphin.

Bottlenose dolphins are the most common and well known type of dolphin.

Female dolphins are called cows, males are called bulls and young dolphins are called calves.

Dolphins live in schools or pods of up to 12 individuals.

Dolphins often display a playful attitude which makes them popular in human culture. They can be seen jumping out of the water, riding waves, play fighting and occasionally interacting with humans swimming in the water.

Dolphins use a blowhole on top of their heads to breathe.

Dolphins have excellent eyesight and hearing as well as the ability to use echolocation for finding the exact location of objects.

Dolphins communicate with each other by clicking, whistling and other sounds.

Some dolphin species face the threat of extinction, often directly as a result of human behavior. The Yangtze River Dolphin is an example of a dolphin species which may have recently become extinct.

Many fishing methods, such as the use of nets, kill a large number of dolphins every year.

We did get a tiny bit of rain but nothing that is going to really help, we need much more…

Have a great day.

Barry

Jul 10, 15     Comments Off

Sponge

Hi gang, remember me??? Geez since last wednesday we have been going a million miles an hour leaving me zero time for the blog. Last wednesday we had relatives arrive on one of the big cruise ships and spent the whole day playing with them. We first took them for a fun dive on the Sea Aquarium house reef, then Aimee took them to meet the dolphins followed by a fun night out at a favorite restaurant and finally returning them back to their ship by 9:00. Thursday the 9th was my birthday so I took the day off and spent it with Aimee and the hounds. One of the fun things I wanted to do on my b-day was to go dig bottles at an old 1900′s bottle dump that I had found years ago but never to took the time to really check it out. We got there at around 12:00 and immediately started digging and within a few minutes I had unearthed two whole bottles and tons of broken ones. As I was digging I uncovered two sleeping hermit crabs, one was about the size of a golf ball and the other quite a bit smaller. I had to move them in order to continue my digging so…. as I picked up the large one he bit me and not just a baby bite, he took the whole tip of my finger off! I can’t even begin to tell you how bad that hurt and how bad it was bleeding, we now had to leave because we had no band-aids or medical stuff of any kind, so much for that adventure and so much for trying to save hermit crabs! The rest of the day was spent complaining about how bad my finger was throbbing and how shocked we are that these little crabs have such powerful pinchers, I won’t be playing with them anymore! Around 4:00 I took off on my weekly 25 mile ride and at 7:00 we took off to a super fun birthday party at the fort in Outrabanda across the water from downtown Curacao (Punda). Friday was back to work but busy with a Brazilian film crew all day again no time to blog. Tomorrow monday, we have more students coming from Bonaire (12 of them ) to ride in the submersible, I will have to do at least 3 dives, that will be a long day!!

Hope all is well out there.

Barry 

Jul 7, 15     Comments Off

BAR-

Good morning all, I finally have my fireworm collage that I have been working on for the past few weeks for your viewing pleasure today. As I mentioned in an earlier blog last week we have been collecting these worms from under our floating platform and taking them down to around 65 feet and photographing them inside a big vase sponge. Why inside a vase sponge you ask?? Well, we found that dumping them in the  sponge was a great way to keep them under control, they can’t easily crawl off and hide under a rock and it gives me plenty of time to make multiple photos. All of these fireworms are photographed under the new blue-light system from Ikelite which is so easy to use and as you can see the sky is the limit to what you can create. These worms range in size from a quarter of an inch to about six inches in length and the coolest part… they all fluoresce a different color! If you read the bottom section of the previous blog from friday you will find some interesting facts about these worms, they are truly one of the most overlooked and ignored of all our little sea creatures! 

We have a Brazilian film crew here this morning shooting a movie, I need to get moving and head out to the water!

Have a great day…

Barry

Jul 6, 15     Comments Off

BAR-

Good morning all, how was your weekend??? Mine was about as quiet as it gets, other than a short bike ride and a dog walk I pretty much did nothing. The winds continue to blow and it’s super dry but it did TRY to rain a few times with very little actually hitting the ground. 

I received a note asking what we normally see in the “Curasub” mini-submersible on our daily rips to 500-600. Thats a good question because the answer is anyone’s guess. We have one trip called the “Beauty Run” and for sure you will see our two sunken tugboats resting upright on a ledge at 175 feet and other cool ship relics. As far as sea-life, you can now expect to see lionfish all the way down to 600 feet but as far as our exotics like turtles, rays, sharks and dolphins those are few and far between but we have been spotting them more and more lately. The above picture was taken last week from inside the submersible at around 180 feet. This giant hawksbill turtle was just laying there asleep with his or her large pec fins wedged into the reef to keep from moving, talk about a great sighting! They also spotted a giant manta-ray the other day as it swam right over them at around 220 feet but trying to get a photo was close to impossible especially if it appears out of no where and your not ready with the camera! Other cool things you will see are corals and sponges, some are super deep and very rare and the fish swimming around them have only been seen by a handful of lucky people and or scientists. There are also undescribed eels, crabs, shrimps, octopus and mollusks down there that are spotted on almost every dive and most don’t even have a name yet, so it’s possible, very possible that you could be the first to spot something that no one else has ever seen! For more information on being one of our lucky passengers check out www.substation-curacao.com

Have a great day all…

Barry

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