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.
Jan 21, 15 Comments (0)
Beautiful Tucson Arizona!
2015 “BOO” Mountain Bike made from Bamboo!
Testing a quarter million dollars worth of high end road bikes at Gates Pass!
The NEW 2015 Fat Tire-Salsa “Bucksaw” Our hands down favorite bike to ride!
Check out the specs at…. http://salsacycles.com/bikes/bucksaw
The Lightest bike tested, The New 2015 TREK, cost? $16,000 and weighs 10 pounds or 4.5 Kilos!
Jan 9, 15 Comments Off
Good morning from Curacao. I have a very small, half inch, Red-Ridged Clinging Crab, Mithrax forceps for you all today that I found nestled deep down in a crevice on a colony of pillar coral. These crabs can be identified by their unique carapace which has numerous grooves that form ridges and nodules and have prominent cone-shaped projections around the sides. The legs and carapace may have bands, stripes or spots and the colors can range from red, yellow, brown, orange or green. Also it has smooth claws with blunt tips as you can clearly see above. These tiny nocturnal crabs inhabit reefs and adjacent areas of coral rubble and algae-covered, rocky bottoms. During the day they hide in small holes or recesses and are close to impossible to find. We have a wide variety of crabs on the caribbean reef but many of them like this little guy here are so small you would never see it unless they moved. Nightfall is the best time to find crabs as they are now out in the open feeding but they are still super small and very camouflaged, it makes the hunt that much more fun!
Well that’s it for me this week, I am on a plane Sunday headed for the States, I really need to get off this rock for awhile, I have island fever! Will try to keep you posted on what I am doing, I may add a link on the front page that says Tucson 2015 Trip and add photos there so look out for that.
Take of each other…
Jan 8, 15 Comments Off
Hi all, it’s been a busy morning again with diving leaving me no time to play on the computer. I took this photo just a few minutes ago at around 65 feet after waving good-bye to the visiting tourists inside the submersible. Once I finish doing my sub photos and it disappears into the abyss I always go on some kind of search to see what is new on the reef today. I honestly can’t resist swimming into this large school of these colorful Bonnetmount’s or Bogas, they are so much fun to hang out with. These fish seem know I’m not a threat and allow me to become part of their school but sticking with them can be very difficult. Not only because they are fast but also because they swim up and down and this is something you can’t do many times on scuba without getting in trouble. They also know that when I’m there no big predatory fish like those dumb amber jacks are going to make a move on, I’m their big human protector! This giant school has been here for years and they make going out to the reef a complete joy, in fact most days they will see me swimming out of the lagoon, they will race over to me and then swim circles around me or play with my bubbles.
Many of you know I’m taking off for a few weeks starting this Sunday for a little vacation, Aimee will stay here with the dogs. I’m headed to Arizona again to help test mountain bikes for Outside Magazine and spend time with my mom and my editor Tom. So, I’m not sure if I will be posting during these weeks or not yet but please check in, you never know.
That’s about it, have a wonderful day!
Jan 6, 15 Comments Off
Good morning from the mosquito infested Caribbean! Here’s an intermediate Queen Angelfish, Holacanthus ciliaris for you all today looking about as cute as a fish can be! These young angelfish are by far on the top of my “find list” but regrettably we hardly ever see them and if we do they are usually hard to approach. Now a days when I spot a Queen I follow for as long as it takes in hopes of them swimming into a small protective cave which gives me the only chance of a photo opportunity. Once trapped in their cave they will peer out at me as this one did which is just long enough to get a picture, they are very shy animals!
The Queen angelfish body color can be described as blue to blue-green with yellow rims on its scales. Their pectoral and ventral fins are also yellow but their lips and the edges of their dorsal fins and anal fins are dark blue. Queen angelfish are also known to have blue markings around each gill cover. Juveniles have dark blue bodies with yellow lips, gills, and tail and vertical bars ranging in color from light blue to white. The colors of the juvenile fish help them to blend in with the reefs. The Queen angelfish may live up to 15 years in the wild and reach up to 45 centimeters (17 inches) in length. Queen angelfish are about three and a half pounds.
Like other angelfish, much of its locomotion is produced by the pectoral fins. The outer 40% of each fin can be used to produce up to 80% of the fish’s total thrust.
The Queen angelfish feeds primarily on sponges, but also feeds on tunicates, jellyfish, and corals as well as plankton and algae. Juveniles serve as “cleaners” and feed on the parasites of larger fish at cleaning stations.
The adults are found in pairs year round, perhaps suggesting a long-term monogamous bond. The pairs reproduce by rising up in the water, bringing their bellies close together, and release clouds of sperm and eggs. The female can release anywhere from 25 to 75 thousand eggs each evening and as many as ten million eggs during each spawning cycle. The eggs are transparent, buoyant, and pelagic, floating in the water column. They hatch after 15 to 20 hours into larvae that lack effective eyes, fins, or even a gut. The large yolk sac is absorbed after 48 hours, during which time the larvae develop normal characteristics of free swimming fish. Larvae are found in the water column and feed on plankton. The larvae grow rapidly and about 3–4 weeks after hatching the 15–20 millimeters (0.6–0.8 in) long juvenile settles on the bottom.
Have a wonderful day!!
Jan 5, 15 Comments Off
Good morning from Chikungunya-ville! The island is still being hit hard with the terrible mosquito illness and at last count we had over 25,000 people sick with it. I have had mine for going on 5 weeks, one days you feel like it’s gone and the next your back in bed with stiff joints, headache and for me an upset stomach. So needless to say my December was awful and my New Year is not off to a good start. Is there a cure you ask?? Not really, they say to use paracetamol which seems to be the only thing that helps and to boil papaya leaves for a tea.
I have some very bright colored Red Night Shrimps, Cinetorhynchus manningi for your viewing pleasure today. These little 1-2 inch shrimps can be found on just about any rock on the reef in great numbers once the sun goes down. These shrimps can be easily identified by their beautiful red bodies and may have white to tan bands and spots with large black eyes. They inhabit coral reefs, they are solely nocturnal and hide deep in reefs during the day and appear in large numbers at night. The eyes are the cool part, when you shine your dive light onto the rocks you see hundreds of glowing red eyes looking back at you, it’s such a cool sight. Trying to approach these delicate creatures has turned out to be a near impossible task but I am getting better at it. I now move in without lights and slowly expose them to the light and try not to move, otherwise if they are startled they will retreat into protective recesses in the blink of an eye and will not come back out for a long time.
We have a dive in about 30 minutes, not looking forward to going underwater today but someone has to do it.
Have a great day…
Jan 2, 15 Comments Off
Good afternoon one and all, we made it to 2015! We gave up trying to sleep on New Years eve and ended up just watching movies, fireworks and comforting the dogs all night. You honestly can’t imagine the noise here on this one night of the year and it lasts from about 8:00pm till 4:00 in the morning! I always tell my friends in the States, “picture your own local 4th of July fireworks display” which may last up to 30 minutes or an hour at the most. Well here, it’s an all out 4th of July fireworks display for 8-9 hours in every direction you look and the island looks like it’s on fire and sounds like it’s being bombed! I’m sure you could find something on Youtube.
I had a request for a photo from above Curacao so I have this crazy photo for you all today. What is it you ask?? Good question. I was downtown shooting some graffiti and noticed the reflection of the colors in a parked car. As I set up the tripod and got ready to take the photo a guy on a bicycle rode past and “click” that was my picture, ok, it’s not for everyone but I like any kind of reflection photos.
Busy at home today working my “honey-do-list”.
Have a wonderful weekend all!
Dec 31, 14 Comments Off
Happy New Year all!!! I’m off tomorrow so I won’t be posting, I will most likely be diving and hopefully doing a little cycling! Tonight will be crazy beyond belief here in Curacao and it must look like the island is being bombed from space! Our plan is to have the fan, air-co and t.v. going all at the same time to TRY and drown out some of the noise to help comfort the dogs a little but I’m sure it will be a very long night with very little sleep! A big thank-you goes out to my fans of the blog for making this another fun year of learning for us all! Our friend Kathy in South Dakota is the hands down winner of the most blog comments and my mom, my aunt Shari and Nancy Thompson win with taking the time to print all my blogs out and keeping them in folders, talk about dedication. A big thank-you goes out to all my fun sponsors like Ikelite and our favorite coffee supplier Dark Canyon Coffee who have kept us living in the lap of luxury and without them we would be lost! We of course would just be spinning our wheels without the help of the greatest photographer in the World, Thomas Wiewandt of www.wildhorizons.com he has done so much for us and we are so thankful to have him in our lives!
Above is one of the fun projects we have been working on this past year. We have done countless dives in search of brain corals and staring at them for hours looking for “designs in nature” as you see above. Most of these numbers and letters we find are only about an inch or two in height and come in a wild array of beautiful colors! For those of you visiting the Smithsonian Institution in 2015 you will be able have your name printed out in coral and then have it framed on your wall, what better way to show your support for our coral reefs!
Aimee and I are headed out to look for more coral letters, the I and the Z are turning out to be very difficult to find!!
Happy New Year……..
Barry and Aimee
Dec 30, 14 Comments Off
Hi friends, I have a fun “now you see it, now you don’t” kind of photo for you all today that I took during my resent search for brain corals. This is a very odd colored (but beautiful) Christmas Tree Worm, Spirobranchus giganteus shown in the top photo as “open” and the bottom photo shown as “closed”. Christmas Tree Worms are of the Class; Polychaeta, Order; Sabellida and Family Serpulidae. Serpulids build hard, calcareous tubes which are often hidden in the rock, coral, or, occasionally sponges. Their extended crown of colorful radioles form spirals and whorls. Like fan worms, the radioles are used to catch food, and will instantly retract when disturbed (bottom photo). A hardened structure, called an operculum, covers the tube opening when the worm withdraws. Horn-like growths that often extend from the operculum are useful in species identification. Christmas Tree Worms grow to about a an inch and a half in height, can be found from 10-100 feet and are one of the most common creatures found in the Caribbean.
We are back to getting rain almost every day which is needed to carry this island through the dry months ahead.
Fireworks went on sale a few days ago which means it has been crazyness starting at around 10:00am every day! Inca (our Dalmatian) is so freaked out now with every explosion that we can hardly get her to go outside to go pee, will be a horrible week for pets and wild animals! Here in Curacao as you can imagine there are NO firework regulations at all! This means China sends fireworks that would be illegal anywhere else on the planet and you don’t need a parent to buy them! Most of these fireworks are like small sticks of dynamite and the noise is insane, I am sure the hospitals will be busy this week!
Hope all is well out there, lots to do!
Dec 29, 14 Comments Off
Good morning friends, just two days away from 2015, can you believe it?? How was Christmas out there?? Did Santa bring you all something wonderful?? My Santa was awesome!!! I scored a super cool, handmade “mountain bike tire belt” which I can hardly wait to wear, a fun shirt with two dinosaurs playing the game of Twister, two fun and very colorful animal carvings from Oaxaca Mexico (we collect them) and a giant canvas with three of our photos from Peru printed on it. After shredding presents and eating like Kings I took off to meet Mark and Suzi from the World famous Dive Bus Hut for their annual Christmas dive. Aimee was not feeling well enough to join so she stayed home and chilled with the dogs. We did our dive on the west side of the Aquaelectra plant and once in the water swam to the east and back. While the others hunted lionfish I swam from one brain coral to another (which were all different colors and sizes) in search of interesting designs and shooting them with the macro lens. While focused on an interesting brain coral design this very curious Whitespotted Filefish swam right up to me as if to say “what’s ya doing”?? Wow, you want to talk about a curious fish that has zero fear, well your looking at him! I actually had a hard time getting him to leave me alone, not sure if he saw his reflection in the lens or if he had just never seen a diver before but it was a pretty cool encounter! All in all I think I did around 6-7 dives these past four days mainly working on our brain coral project which you guys will see more in the coming days.
Still not feeling well and haven’t been able to ride much, not a very fun December.
Hope all is well out there!!
Dec 24, 14 Comments Off
Merry Christmas one and all!! Aimee and I just drove down to Punda at dusk and photographed the reflection from a floating Christmas tree adrift on a floating platform of sorts. This is just the reflection the tree was casting into or onto the water, pretty cool is I do say so myself! Have a wonderful day tomorrow and please be safe out there!
Barry and Aimee
Dec 24, 14 Comments Off
Good morning friends, we are headed out tonight to do our annual walk around downtown Curacao/Punda and photograph all the beautiful Christmas lights so hopefully I will have something fun for you tomorrow. Can you believe it’s the day before Christmas?? I am sure many of you are still running around trying to get your last minute shopping done or at least stop by the grocery store and load up for the weekend. Everything here in Curacao will be shut down for two days, Christmas and the day after so we have to get to the stores today. Like I mentioned yesterday we are going diving tomorrow at around noon if anyone wants to join, it’s kind of an annual event for us as we don’t get to do many “fun dives” much anymore.
I had a request for a beautiful “coral reef scene” from one of my winter locked friends in the States who needed a reminder of what he should be doing this holiday season. This is a beautiful six-foot tall Erect Rope Sponge that I encountered with some friends at around 75 feet! When these sponges are introduced to flash they really explode with color and the reef just come alive!
I have to get the camera and dive gear ready for tomorrow, have a GREAT evening and a wonderful Christmas Day!!
Have fun and be safe….
Dec 23, 14 Comments Off
Good morning friends, we are waking up to light rain and overcast skies today which is normal for this time of year. Many of you Curacao natives know we are way behind on the amount of moisture needed to carry this island through another year, so any rain is good rain!
I did two cold dives yesterday in search of more brain corals but I really didn’t find very much. Aimee and I have been working on a brain coral project for over a year and we still have a bunch of searching to do. We are planning on diving on Christmas day during the afternoon at Pier Baai after taking the dogs on a fun outing somewhere along the coast, so if your wanting to join give me a ring.
I did come across this very calm and very colorful Bluestriped Grunt on my dive yesterday and couldn’t resist the urge to stop and take his photo. These fish are so mellow and have such beautiful electric blue stripes, (thus the name) and can reach 18 inches in length! Here is Curacao you normally only see these fish alone hanging out under a coral ledge or near the entrance to a small cave. The common family name is derived from the unusual “grunt” sound produced when teeth grinding deep within their throats is amplified by the air bladder. Grunts are closely related to snappers but are generally smaller (normally between 12 and 18 inches), with more deeply notched tails. They also lack the snappers sharp canine teeth.
I really can’t believe Christmas is days away?? Geez where did this month go?
Starting to really rain now, and I mean it’s coming down!!! I need to go check on my turtles!!
Dec 22, 14 Comments Off
Good morning gang, three more days till Christmas, can you believe that?? I’ve been running around like a crazy person as of late trying to get a million things done that got put on hold while I was sick, and the list is long!
I have a cool photo for you today showing how coral polyps open and close. This is a section of Finger Coral, Porites porites with the top photo showing the “open or extended” feeding polyps and the second photo showing them “closed or retracted”. The delicate polyps you see in the top photo are often extended even during the day, giving the colony a fuzzy looking appearance and sway back and forth with every passing wave (called surge) or move in the current. Brittlestars, sea urchins, crabs, shrimps, small fish and chitons often live among the tightly compacted branches of finger corals.
Finger coral colonies form smooth branches with embedded corallites and grow in several configurations (morphotypes) that were originally described as three separate species. As more research became available scientists concluded that the morphotypes were variations of one species, caused by different environmental conditions. They were then synonymized as one species, Finger Coral, Porites porites. However, recent genetic evidence now suggests there are three separate species and the re-described scientific and common names are as follows…
Clubtip Finger Coral, P.porites, has stout, irregular, stubby branches with blunt and often enlarged tips (above).
Branched Finger Coral, P. furcata, has finger-like, tight compacted branches.
Thin Finger Coral, P. divaricata, has finger-like, widely spaced branches that often divide near the tip.
The different colors of these corals range from beige to yellow-brown, brown, gray and gray with purple overtones. Branched and Thin Finger Corals are fragile while Clubtip Finger Corals break only under pressure.
I have way to much to do and our dog Indi is home sick.
Dec 18, 14 Comments Off
Hi friends, I’m in and out of the water today photographing tourists going down in the submersible and you might be able to see us at www.seesubmarine.com just remember there is a one hour time delay in what your seeing.
For my poor neglected dolphin friends out there I have a beautiful bottlenose diving out in the open ocean for you today. Many who have been connected with us from the start (2004) remember the days of me sending out dolphin photos just about every day and for sure every week. But since I moved over to work with the submersible (4 years now) the dolphin photos are getting less and less, I just don’t take the time to go over and swim with them like I used to, that’s Aimee’s job!
Having a busy day!!
Dec 17, 14 Comments Off
Good morning all, I have an extra special creature for you all today called a Pipefish found by our crew here at Substation Curacao at 560 feet! Because this fish was close to 8-inches in length I was unable to photograph him in a single shot so I took seven photos and stitched them together in Photoshop. To see the panoramic photo you will need to click on my “GALLERY” link on the left side of the home page, it was too long to post on my normal blog page. I have been told this is a rare find and that there is little known information on this deep dwelling pipefish, the Smithsonian scientists were very excited. In the four years we have been diving with the submersible (over 1000 dives) we have never seen one of these so it once again goes to show there is so much yet to be discovered.
Here’s a link to one of the shallow pipefish I found living in 15 feet of water right under our submersible dock months ago remember him??
These strange beautiful little fishes all have trumpet-like snouts and small mouths. Their bodies are encased in protective bony rings which are quite apparent. Pipefish are in the same family as seahorses and we have about ten shallow species swimming around the Caribbean, good luck finding them! Seahorses are vertically oriented, and have a cocked head. Their finless, elongated tail base is often coiled around a hold-fast. Pipefishes are elongated, snake-like bottom dwellers with heads that extend straight from their bodies, and have small tail fins, both are slow swimmers and masters of disguise!
Slowly getting over my mosquito illness, not something I wanted for Christmas!
Have a great day all!!