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.
Dec 1, 15 Comments (0)
Good morning friends, yours truly is slowly recovering from a 4-hour root canal that I had done yesterday, talk about fun!!
I have a Photoshopped “hide and seek” type of photo for you all today of a beautiful little one inch long Spotted Cleaner Shrimp, Periclimenes yucatanicus hiding in a big Giant Anemone. These little shrimps are a favorite subject for underwater photographers as they are easy to find, easy to shoot and are dressed in wild colors, what more could you want in a subject? I personally love the design on their back that resembles a Hawaiian mask, can you see it??
I have to get ready for a sub dive, my colleague Tico will be diving for me today doing the photos while I wait at the surface, will be a few days before I can get back into the wet stuff.
Sorry so short, have a great day,
Nov 30, 15 Comments (0)
Good morning friends, I know long time right??? Well as I mentioned in my last blog on wednesday we had one crazy week here at Substation, I ended up doing eight dives in three days leaving ZERO time to blog! Friday the waves were so big that we could hardly get the sub in or out of the water and diving was horrible due to poor visibility.
Saturday we got the hardest and longest rain of the year, so much in fact that we were unable to take the car anywhere or leave the house, it was fantastic! Because of all the rain I was unable to my weekly mountain bike ride on the trails so my neighbor and I ended up doing a two hour road ride to Vaersenbaai and back. For those of you asking we got 7th in the Xtreme race we did last weekend, not bad for two flats and all the mud we encountered.
Yesterday I finally started working on our new bigger and better driftwood Christmas Tree which I hope to get finished this week so stay tuned to see what we end up creating.
I have a beautiful, deep sea-cucumber for you all today that was found by our Smithsonian scientists this year on the island of Klein Curacao. This thing was big (14-16 in) and super colorful, not to mention the wild looking texture all over it’s body.
Sea cucumbers are echinoderms from the class Holothuroidea. They are marine animals with a leathery skin and an elongated body containing a single, branched gonad. Sea cucumbers are found on the sea floor worldwide. The number of holothurian/ˌhɒlɵˈθjʊəriən/ species worldwide is about 1,717 with the greatest number being in the Asia Pacific region. Many of these are gathered for human consumption and some species are cultivated in aquaculture systems. The harvested product is variously referred to as trepang, bêche-de-mer or balate. Sea cucumbers serve a useful role in the marine ecosystem as they help recycle nutrients, breaking down detritus and other organic matter after which bacteria can continue the degradation process.
Like all echinoderms, sea cucumbers have an endoskeleton just below the skin, calcified structures that are usually reduced to isolated microscopic ossicles (or sclerietes) joined by connective tissue. In some species these can sometimes be enlarged to flattened plates, forming an armour. In pelagic species such as Pelagothuria natatrix (Order Elasipodida, family Pelagothuriidae), the skeleton is absent and there is no calcareous ring.
Lots to do….
Nov 25, 15 Comments (0)
Good morning, we have three submersible dives today, tomorrow and friday so you may or may not be hearing much from me.
I have a little, very delicate Rose Lace coral for you all today that I shot in the mouth of a little cave on our Substation house reef. This hydrocoral form small colonies, with up to 7 cm high by 11 cm wide. Displays branches with serrated appearance. The polyps have an appearance of hair as when extended, have branches with serrated .. The cylindrical branches tapering from base to tip. The surface of the outer branches is covered with rows of small glasses, formed by surrounding food and stinging polyps. Occasional cups are also visible in the thick base of the branches. The polyps have an appearance of hair as when extended. Burgundy purple or lavender near the base, fading to pink and white towards the tips of the branches. Occasionally, all white.
These corals inhabit protected areas, areas of coral shade, often in caves or crevices, 6-30 m depth. They are found in Florida, Bahamas and the Caribbean waters, additionally it is common in the Abrolhos Archipelago.
They’re usually found hanging from a ledge of a cave or crevice. They can sting if rubbed against, but they are not considered toxic, or even deadly. The Stylaster roseus is a filter feeder like most other corals, and have a symbiotic relationship with zooxanthellae to provide you with the essential nutrients it needs.
Coral lace-Rose consist of a dominant polyp stage that usually has separate sexes for reproduction. The male and female are usually divided into colonies, and each colony produces or a sperm or an egg, which is eventually fertilized and developed into a new colony.
I have to get back out to the sea….
Nov 24, 15 Comments (0)
Good morning friends, here is the hands down most beautiful fish Curacao has to offer, it’s called a Candy Basslet, Liopropoma carmabi and lives at a depth of about 225 feet! This is by far the most sought after aquarium fish in the World and will cost you around $500 to $1000 to own one. This is considered a Sea Bass in the Serranidae family and only grows to be about two inches in length! As you can see, these mini sea bass are boldly marked with stripes generally in shades of light brown to red-brown or yellow-brown alternating with red to maroon but stripes may be occasionally yellow to lavender or even blue as you see here!! They typically inhabit deep coral reefs and rubble slopes and are very reclusive and will remain hidden inside recesses until danger passes. Passengers in the new Curasub have the best chance of seeing one of these in their natural habitat without the dangers of deep-diving in scuba gear. I am always amazed that there are fish like this that live far below in the darkness and no diver will ever see them but yet they are so colorful!
Aimee is bringing our dog Indi over in a few minutes for a possible Christmas dog photo which will be posted sometime next month IF (Big IF) we can make it happen!!??
Have a great day all…
Nov 23, 15 Comments (0)
Good morning friends, I’m about as wiped out as a human can be today after competing in the Curacao Xtreme Mountain Bike Race yesterday. This is a 40 mile, four hour race through the wilds of Curacao starting and ending at Blue Bay Resort. My next door neighbor who is an active NAVY guy (he’s in crazy great shape) called me Saturday afternoon and said “I’m signing us up for the Xtreme”! My response was, “I’m really not in shape for that race but I guess it’s worth a try”. This is a team event, the race started at 7:00 in the morning after an all night downpour creating the most unimaginable mud and sections miles long with nothing but deep muddy water, I was crying for my mommy most of the way! Some of you may remember that Dorian and I won this race two years ago and I think we would have won again this year if my buddy Hans would not have had two flats and we didn’t spend so much time trying to get the mud off the bikes. Most of the Caribbean islands now have an Xtreme race of their own, it has become very popular, we had riders from so many different islands there yesterday. Once home I spent at least 30 minutes spraying the bike down and washing my gear, what a mega mess, I really could have done without all that mud…
Lots to do, I hope you all had a great weekend.
Nov 20, 15 Comments (0)
Hi all, sorry so late, we had two submersible dives today which as you can imagine keeps yours truly very busy!! While out on my second dive and while waiting for the sub I snapped a shot of a beautiful burgundy colored Christmas Tree worm for you all. The top photo shows our beautiful little creature open and the bottom photo shows him safe and sound inside his tube deep inside the reef. These gentle little two inch creatures are what we call “the icing on the cake” meaning they put the final touch on the reef and are found in a cornucopia of colors and can be found attached to just about everything you see underwater. If disturbed they will disappear, an action which happens so fast it’s mind boggling and if left alone they will pop back up within minutes and sometimes seconds, such cool little animals.
It’s trying to rain but it’s not doing a very good job, is it too much to ask for a little precipitation?? Anyone remember what movie that line is from??
Have a wonderful weekend…
Nov 19, 15 Comments (0)
Hello from overcast Curacao. I went with Aimee and the three dogs before work this morning and we again planted baby yucca’s, and we are finally almost done!! When our giant century plant we had in our front yard died it left behind close to 500 babies which we have been taking out to the desert every single day and planting them in hopes of keeping the circle of life alive.
I have a super curious, completely unafraid brown Coney for you all today that I again shot while on my last trip to our small remote island of Klein Curacao. These are considered sea bass with their heavy bodies and large lips and are very common in many areas around Curacao. These fish can grow to be around 10 inches in length and are found in a bunch of colors including bright yellow with electric blue spots. Conies are easy to distinguish from other fish because of the two very visible black dots on the lower lip, that pretty much gives them away. They also have two black dots behind the dorsal fin on the base of tail. These are one of the few sea bass that don’t seem to mind being photographed as you can see from the shot above, he would have posed all day, such a cool fish!!
Lets hope it actually rains, my baby yucca’s need the water!!
Nov 18, 15 Comments (0)
Good afternoon, I’m busy today getting photos sent out to different magazines like Sport Diver and Scuba Diver for upcoming issues and finding photos many times can be quite a task! Many have asked me about buying photos that they have seen here on the blog and if it was possible?? Yes is the answer, they make killer Christmas gifts and can be signed digitally before you print… You can either go to www.wildhorizons.com , www.drkphoto.com , www.gettyimages.com/curacao underwater , www.danitadelimont.com or contact me directly. If your visiting the drkphoto site or danitadelimont type in Barry Brown or Barry B Brown in the search box.
I had another request for a different view of the “message in a bottle” photo that I took a few weeks ago at Klein Curacao. From this angle your looking south and you get a pretty good view of the insane beautiful white sand that this little island is so famous for. The sand on this island is so pure and soft, it’s like walking on a puffy cloud. Combine that with the sound of the gentle waves, crystal clear water, a cool breeze and the sound of laughing gulls overhead, I think this is heaven!
Nov 17, 15 Comments Off on Stove-Pipe Sponge Re-Growth/New Growth
Good morning from Curacao… So what are we looking at today you ask?? Well, let me tell you, this is really cool. Many have asked me “if a sponge falls over on the reef, will it continue to grow”?? Good question. The answer is yes and no. If the sponge breaks and falls onto an area where it doesn’t move and has some kind of substrate to grab onto, new growth can begin. But if a sponge or coral breaks and falls into pure sand and is moving around it will not be able to re-grow and will die. Here you see a fallen section of a Stove-Pipe sponge (Aplysina archeri) in purple and the new growth climbing up a Row Pore Rope sponge. The rope sponge is acting like an underwater trellis of sorts supporting the weight of the new stove-pipe by allowing it to not only cover it in sections but letting it fuse onto the rope sponge, that’s just way cool!! I’m guessing that once the stove-pipe grows bigger and really gets a good hold on the reef that the rope sponge will be majorly fused to the side and the two will become one cool looking sponge. It’s hard to see in the photo but these sponges are home to little gobies, crabs, shrimps and brittle stars, in fact the harder you look the more things you will see, I would love to see this again in a few years..
I have to be underwater in a few minutes, I have to go.
Have a great day out there,
Nov 16, 15 Comments Off on Colorful Brain Corals, Coral Designs, Hard Coral
Good morning friends, how was the weekend??? Mine went by like a flash as usual and as I sit here now I can barely recall what I did. Yesterday I met three friends at 6:30 in the morning and we pre-rode the Curacao extreme mountain bike race course or at least 30 miles of it. Our ride took around 3 hours and most of it was spent pushing into some of the worst winds I have ever ridden in, talk about zero fun. After that exhausting event I pretty much just stayed inside the rest of the day, it’s amazing how fast being in strong wind can wipe you out!
I have a cool brain coral photo for you today that I recently discovered at 75 feet on the tiny island of Klein Curacao. What your seeing is a small section of Boulder Brain coral on the top and Symmetrical Brain coral on the bottom. These coral buddies were butted up next to each other looking about as colorful and as heathy as corals can be.
Sorry so short, mondays are always busy…
Nov 13, 15 Comments Off on Deep Sea Giant Hermit Crab, Dardanus insignis
Hey gang, here’s one of the largest deep-sea hermit crabs (about the size of a grapefruit) I have seen to date, named Dardanus insignis, the “southern form”. The crab was living in a very light-weight fragile shell that had a big hole in the top that you can see just over his eyes. Also if your wondering what that thing is on his shell that looks like a sideways volcano, it’s a live anemone! Yeah how cool is that I ask?? If disturbed the anemone would close and just look like a big fleshy lump on his shell but seemed to open back up pretty quickly. Besides the anemone he also had live tunicates stuck to his shell and heaven only knows what else, truly one of the coolest of crabs I have seen! This was found at 714 feet by no other than Darryl L. Felder, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Biology at the University of Louisiana. Darryl was part of the Smithsonian crew we had aboard the Chapman this year on our trip to Playa Forti which is located near the western point of Curacao.
Taking the day off to get some things done at home, see you all next week…
Have a wonderful weekend.
Nov 12, 15 Comments Off on Tretocidaris bartletti (A. Agassiz), Deep Sea Urchins
Hi friends, I have a rare, very large sea urchin called a Tretocidaris bartletti (A. Agassiz) for you all today that was found this year by the Smithsonian scientists on the little island of Klein Curacao. This urchin was not only crazy colorful it was huge!! This thing was so big it wouldn’t even fit into a big white utility bucket, I ended up carrying it by hand back down to the reef where I took these photos of it walking around in the sand. These urchins range from North Carolina through the Caribbean between 140-625 meters, that’s 459-2050 feet, that’s quite a difference in depth.
Sea urchins or urchins archaically called sea hedgehogs, are small, spiny, globular animals that, with their close kin, such as sand dollars, constitute the class Echinoidea of the echinoderm phylum. About 950 species of echinoids inhabit all oceans from the intertidal to 5000 m deep. The shell, or “test”, of sea urchins is round and spiny, typically from 3 to 10 cm (1.2 to 3.9 in) across. Common colors include black and dull shades of green, olive, brown, purple, blue, and red. Sea urchins move slowly, and feed on mostly algae. Sea otters, starfish, wolf eels, triggerfish, and other predators hunt and feed on sea urchins. Their roe is a delicacy in many cuisines. The name “urchin” is an old word for hedgehog, which sea urchins resemble.
Sea urchins are members of the phylum Echinodermata, which also includes sea stars, sea cucumbers, brittle stars, and crinoids. Like other echinoderms, they have five-fold symmetry (called pentamerism) and move by means of hundreds of tiny, transparent, adhesive “tube feet”. The symmetry is not obvious in the living animal, but is easily visible in the dried test.
Specifically, the term “sea urchin” refers to the “regular echinoids”, which are symmetrical and globular, and includes several different taxonomic groups, including two subclasses : Euechinoidea (“modern” sea urchins, including irregular ones) and Cidaroidea or “slate-pencil urchins”, which have very thick, blunt spines, with algae and sponges growing on it. The irregular sea urchins are an infra-classis inside the Euechinoidea, called Irregularia, and including Atelostomata and Neognathostomata. “Irregular” echinoids include: flattened sand dollars, sea biscuits, and heart urchins.
Have a great day….
Nov 11, 15 Comments Off on Laughing Gull in Winter Colors, Flying Birds
Good morning friends, I have a bird photo for my neglected bird followers out there. This is a Laughing Gull in it’s “winter colors” soaring high above us on the island of Klein Curacao. We watched these beautiful birds all day as they hunted fish along the shoreline and occasionally they would land nearby to either wash themselves in the tidal pools or just take a break from hunting.
The laughing gull (Leucophaeus atricilla) is a medium-sized gull of North and South America. It breeds on the Atlantic coast of North America, the Caribbean, and northern South America. Northernmost populations migrate further south in winter, and this species occurs as a rare vagrant to western Europe. (There was an influx into North-west Europe in late October 2005 when at least 18, possibly as many as 35, individuals occurred on one day in the UK alone.) The laughing gull’s English name is derived from its raucous kee-agh call, which sounds like a high-pitched laugh “ha… ha… ha…”.
This species is easy to identify. It is 36×41 cm (14×16 in) long with a 98×110 cm (39×43 in) wingspan. The summer adult’s body is white apart from the dark grey back and wings and black head. During the winter it looses the dark coloring on the head (hood) leaving just a small patch of dark color on top of it’s head and a small amount around the eye. Its wings are much darker grey than all other gulls of similar size except the smaller Franklin’s gull, and they have black tips without the white crescent shown by Franklin’s. The beak is long and red.
Laughing gulls breed in coastal marshes and ponds in large colonies. The large nest, made largely from grasses, is constructed on the ground. The 3 or 4 greenish eggs are incubated for about three weeks. These are omnivores like most gulls, and they will scavenge as well as seeking suitable small prey.
Breeding is known from Bonaire and Aruba but not sure about here in Curacao.
Good news, the rainy season is off to a pretty good start, we have had some kind of shower now almost every day and Aimee is out right now with the dogs planting more baby yucca’s.
Nov 10, 15 Comments Off on East Side of Klein Curacao, Lori Lang Photos
Good morning all, yes I know, the blogs are getting weaker and weaker and less and less, but I just don’t have much time as of late. I had a busy weekend and yesterday here at Substation we had three paid customer dives meaning yours truly was in the water and running around like a crazy person all day, zero time for cyber-talk.
A few weeks ago our friend Lori Lang was here from Rapid City South Dakota and because she was only here for a few days we did our best to pack in as much fun as we could in a very short period of time! One of the places we took her was to our little island of Klein Curacao which is an all day trip leaving on the Mermaid ship early in the morning, all day on the island and returning late in the afternoon. The trip on the Mermaid takes around an hour and a half and once ashore they feed you breakfast and give you a quick briefing. After that your on your own to explore, dive, snorkel, eat or just lay in the sun, it’s your personal little island for the whole day. The 1st thing we did was to take a long hike to the south end of the island in search of beach treasures and photos, remember the cool crab skeletons I posted last week?? Those were just one of the cool things we found. The above photo was taken on the east side of the island, there are many small shipwrecks and one really big one which is a giant cargo ship that smashed into shore many years ago during a storm. Lori was a perfect model, she even found that cool washed ashore sea-fan on top of the boat, talk about a perfect setting for a photo-shoot!! For those of you who have been to the island you remember all the washed ashore trash on the east side right?? Well, good news, the Mermaid crew and many volunteers recently cleaned this side of the island and it looks a thousand times better, there is still trash but nothing like it was…. The downside to the clean-up is they took all the driftwood, I didn’t find anything worth taking home and there used to be piles of it?? This is also the side of the island where sea turtles come every year to lay eggs so at least now they will really have a great spot with no trash and more exposed sand.
Thanks again Lori for coming all this way down to spend some time with us, there’s nothing more we love than having visitors!! Lori is co-owner of Dark Canyon Coffee in Rapid City, this is the home of our favorite coffee called “Highlander Grogg”, I highly advise you to order some for Christmas or any other time of the year!! Here is the link again…..
Have a wonderful day all…
Nov 6, 15 Comments Off on Dark Mantis Shrimp, Neogonodactylus curacaoensis
Good afternoon all, we had a busy day here at Substation for once with two submersible runs with paying guests. I was in the water at 9:00 and 11:00 taking photos under the sea thus no time to get on the computer…
I think this is a Dark Mantis Shrimp, Neogonodactylus curacaoensis but like so many times before I could be wrong… I’m pretty sure it’s a mantis shrimp of some kind and a very colorful one at that. I found this guy at around 40 feet out in front of the Substation entrance living deep inside a little hole in the rock. The opening you see here to his little cave was only about two inches wide and as you can see he is half that size. These little shrimps are very wary of divers and will usually not show much of their colorful bodies leaving yours truly with a whole lot of different face shots throughout the years.
I hope you all have a great weekend, I’m meeting Stijn tomorrow morning, he’s going to help me plant the rest of the baby yucca plants out in the desert.