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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Aug 29, 14     Comments (0)

Good morning friends, I have a lionfish video for your viewing pleasure today that was taken moments before the giant crab that I posted yesterday. These two here were at around 50 feet alongside a giant sunken propellor just hanging out in the darkness looking for dinner. As you can see they could have cared less! One of the coolest things about lionfish is all their different colors. They can be found in black, white, orange, red and brown and as babies they are almost clear or see-through. I have never seen a creature that has the ability to adapt to so many different conditions and that can multiply so fast! Lionfish are good eating and folks are hunting them and selling them to restaurants, maybe that’s what I need to start doing as well to help keep the numbers down.

As much as I hate these lionfish for invading the Caribbean and gobbling up all our baby fish they are still one of the most beautiful fish I have ever seen and I honestly can’t resist the temptation of photographing them on a daily basis. I think one of the top reasons I find them so intriguing is because unlike so many other fish that don’t want you anywhere near them, these fish will pose all day long for you and seem to have no fear of anything! 

Lionfish or Pterois volitans, which makes up approximately 93% of the invasive lionfish population, is also commonly called “red lionfish” and Pterois miles is often called the “common lionfish” or “devil firefish.” However, their common names do not match the origins of their scientific names. The genus name, Pterois, pronounced (tare-oh-eese) is defined in modern dictionaries as simply “lionfish”, however the word Pterois comes from the Greek word “pteroeis” meaning “feathered” or “winged” and the Ancient Greek word, “πτερόν” (pteron), meaning “feather” or “wing”. The species name, volitans, pronounced (vole-ee-tahnz), is Latin for “flying” or “hovering” and the present participle of the Latin word “volitō,” which means “to fly” or “to hover. ”The species name, miles, pronounced (mee-layz), is Latin for “soldiering” and the present participle of the Latin word “mīlitō”, which means “to soldier.

No one is quite sure where the name “lionfish” really came from but it would be a logical guess that when both pectoral fins are completely extended and fanned out a head-on view of the lionfish might resemble a male lion’s mane. Others have also suggested that it might be a tip of the hat to the lionfish as a ferocious predator.

We have a dive with the submersible at 11:00, lots to do before that happens.

Have a wonderful weekend all!!

Barry

Aug 28, 14     Comments (0)

Good morning friends, found this giant Channel Clinging Crab out on the reef late last night and since I had my GoPro/Ikelite setup I thought I would shoot a little clip for todays blog. As you can see he is missing a few legs but that doesn’t seem to be slowing him down much and I believe they will grow back. Most of you divers know this species by the common name Channel Clinging Crab, but it turns out that it has several other common names, including Reef Spider Crab, and Spiny Spider Crab, among others. The crab’s scientific name is Mithrax spinosissimus, and that designation stays the same, independent of the common name, which varies from place to place. This crab is a ‘true crab’ (as opposed to, say, a hermit crab), and belongs to the Majidae family.

Majidae tend to have long slender legs just like this example above which is why the common names of many species in this family include the word ‘spider’. Majids also tend to have little hairs or bristle-like structures on their carapaces. Bits of material like algae, sponge, and so on attach to those hairs and act as part of the crab’s camouflage.

Note that the walking legs of this species also are rather hairy, and are covered with ‘stuff’ while the business end of the crab those impressive claws, are smooth. 

Like so many reef creatures, this species forages mainly at night. During the day, they hunker in the reefs, under ledges, and in cavelets. Because of their size, they can’t wiggle into small cervices like so many smaller species can do. Still, they can be difficult to spot during the day, since their decorated carapaces blend so well with their surroundings.

These crabs inhabit a range from the sub-tropical western Atlantic to the Caribbean. They can be found in reef areas along the coasts of southern Florida, through the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands, and throughout much of the Caribbean. Thanks to The Right Blue for this great information. 

This is my third and last day of my micro vacation, it’s back to work tomorrow and we have a VIP in the sub on Saturday, I promise to keep you posted.

Hope all is well out there…..

Barry

Aug 26, 14     Comments (0)

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Hi friends, I had a request asking if moray eels have a nose or nostrils and do they have bones, YES to both!

The elongate body is laterally compressed or “flattened” and this fish possesses a muscular appearance. The spotted moray lacks pelvic and pectoral fins, the former true of all eels, the latter true of all morays. The dorsal and anal fins are long and are continuous with the short caudal fin. The incurrent nostrils are conspicuous tube-like structures, while the excurrent pair take the form of simple openings. The tubular nostrils spotted on moray eels are believed to help them detect prey. Having poor eyesight and hearing, they rely mostly on their sense of smell to alert them of prey and other marine animals. The coloration of their skin and the shapes of their fins and nostrils help them camouflage with their environment. For example, the blue ribbon eel’s nostrils are shaped like aquatic plant leaves to help it blend in.

There are nearly 200 different types of moray eels around the world, but they all share several things in common. Most morays are about 1.5 meters long however some have been known to grow as long as 4 meters in length. Morays come in a wide variety of colors and patterns. All moray eels posses a long spine which gives them their snakelike body and allows these aquatic vertebrates to maneuver forwards and backwards through the water with a serpentine motion. Unlike most fish who use suction to capture their prey, moray eels have a unique, second jaw which allows them to drag their prey into their mouth. The pharyngeal jaw (pharyngeal meaning near the pharynx), located deep within the throat, snaps forward and clamps down on the prey once the first jaw has a firm grip. The eel will then relax its first jaw and pull the prey into its throat using its pharyngeal jaw. Eels have sharp, curved canine teeth which enables them to latch onto their prey with a firm grip. Some eels, like the Atlantic Green Moray Eel, even come equipped with a third row of teeth on the roof of their mouth. Bacteria forms on the insides of their mouths and this can easily cause an infection from a bite wound. A tall dorsal fin runs the length of a moray eels back and is joined with a smaller caudal fin (or tail fin) which runs from the bottom of the tail and ends halfway along the underside of the body. They lack pectoral fins and thus lack vertical stability. It is not uncommon for them to drift lazily on their side. Two small, circular gills located behind the mouth allow the moray eel to breath. Morays continually open and close their mouths in order to pump water through their gills. Eels also have a layer of mucus which coats their thick, scale-less skin in order to protect them from germs and parasites; in some species this mucus is toxic. This mucus also assists them in maneuvering quickly and painlessly through the rough edges of coral reefs.

I am off for next few days so the blog will most likely be getting done in the evenings. Aimee did not get to Michigan on time! I heard from Emily she had to spend the night in the airport in Chicago and today found a flight to Green Bay and was getting picked up by friends and hand delivered the rest of the way??

Time for dinner, see you soon.

Barry

Aug 25, 14     Comments (0)

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Good morning from FLAMING HOT Curacao!! I have another fun blue-light photo for your viewing pleasure today that was shot not at night but during the day. Last friday I wanted to see if it was possible to shoot blue-light photos during the day and to my surprise it was!. But in order to do this and really make it work you have to shoot your subjects in the shady part of the reef, not in full sunlight. I found this beautiful bearded fire worm under our floating dock on one of our concrete walls looking for food alongside a little brain coral. Fire worms are one of the best blue-light subjects and to my surprise all the fire worms I found fluoresced a different color.

Bearded fireworms are usually between 5–10 centimetres (1.9–3.9 in) in length, but can reach up to 35 centimetres (13.8 in). They have a group of venomous white bristles on each side, which are flared out when the worm is disturbed.

Bearded fireworms are usually found on reefs, under stones in rocky areas of the sea, and on some mud bottoms. They live throughout the tropical western Atlantic and at Ascension Island in the mid-Atlantic. They can be found near ocean reefs and at depths of up to 150m. They are very common in Caribbean reef systems across the Antilles, where they are often spotted by divers at a wide range of depths. They are also common in the Mediterranean Sea in the coastal waters surrounding Cyprus and the Maltese archipelago.

The bearded fireworm is a slow creature, and is not considered a threat to humans unless touched by a careless swimmer. The bristles, when flared, can penetrate human skin, injecting a powerful neurotoxin and producing intense irritation and a painful burning sensation around the area of contact. The sting can also lead to nausea and dizziness. This sensation lasts up to a few hours, but a painful tingling can continue to be felt around the area of contact. In a case of accidental contact, application and removal of adhesive tape will help remove the spines; applying alcohol to the area will also help alleviate the pain. Cold water and ice soothe the pain of the poison that was injected from the bearded fireworm.

Yesterday was the hands down hottest day of the year and it was awful! I left the house at 6:00 am and headed out on a four hour mountain bike ride and was burnt to a crisp and out of water by 10:00! After getting home I grabbed the water hose and stood under it for at least five minutes and once dried off spent the rest of the day hiding inside from the heat!

Aimee took off this morning to the States for a wedding in Michigan and has to board four different planes just to get there, she will be wiped out tonight!

We have a dive at 2:00 today with our friends from the post office!

Hope your all enjoying your summer!

Barry

Aug 22, 14     Comments (0)

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Photo by David J. Slater NOT Wikimedia!!!!

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Good morning one and all, your gonna love this!! I have something a little different for you all today not related to the sea but a cause worth fighting for! I’m not sure how many of you know the story of the monkey that took it’s own photo using Davids camera. For some messed up reason Wikimedia thinks they own the photo and claim that the image is available to all as public domain because the monkey took the photo, talk about a bunch of stupid people!! Many of you out there know how many problems I have had with people stealing my photos and claiming that since they found it on the web they can do whatever they please, this is NOT the case! In short David “the real owner of the famous Monkey Selfie Photo” has partnered with a print/canvas comany www.picanova.com and is giving away FREE 12×8 canvas prints!!! All you have to do is pay for postage, YES you read that correctly! GO NOW as fast as you can to the link below, read all about the whole story and order your free print. With every FREE print ordered (one per household) they will send $ to the  Macaque preservation fund, you can’t loose on this one!! Please help support this cause, your helping all professional photographers keep rights to their own photos!

http://www.djsphotography.co.uk/original_story.html

I’m heading out for a dive, have a wonderful weekend!!

Barry

Aug 21, 14     Comments (0)

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Good morning friends, I have an update on my little Orange Ghost Shrimp, Corallianassa longiventris that I have more or less adopted and have been feeding on a daily basis for at least six months. Yesterday morning I swam by his hole early in the morning and he was just waking up and moving his “special rock” that covers his hole in the evenings and getting it moved to the side for the day. Then he spent around 15 minutes cleaning out any and all unwanted sand and debris from down inside the hole. Once I see he has finished his cleaning and I see he is looking up at me I swim off and find some beautiful pieces of assorted algae and dangle them over his little hole. Upon seeing the algae he will race to the surface and take them out of my hand, he is really not very shy! I will sometimes lay a pile of food next the hole and he will grab it and somehow drag it all down inside his home?? If you saw how much food he is taking down you would think he lives in a giant cave or something, I would love to see the borrow this guy has built! The hole he is in is about an inch and a half wide and if I shine my light down the hole I can’t see the bottom?? I have never seen his whole body, just what you see here, he mainly just waits all day for little pieces of food to pass by and will come up and grab each one as they pass by, he is super cool and so colorful! I have noticed that every few days once his borrow is full of food (I guess?) he puts the rock over the hole and will retire down below for days.

Busy getting ready for Aimee to leave for the States and Stijn leaves for Durango tomorrow, we will go out and see him before he leaves tonight.

Have a great day all………

Barry

Aug 20, 14     Comments (0)

Good morning from Curacao. I had a friend asking if fish really do sleep, the answer is YES! I found this video I shot a few weeks ago late at night of a giant Stoplight Parrotfish, Sparisoma viride tucked away, sheltered from the current sleeping under a swaying gorgonian. This guy was close to two feet in length and never really reacted to me or the lights, he was pretty much in his happy place. I find that few parrotfish on the reef secrete mucus cocoons but many do in the shallows and I always find the leftover cocoons on the sand in the mornings. Almost all the fish you see during the day you won’t see at night, they are either sleeping out in the open like this parrotfish or tucked away down in the safety of the rocks or corals. As divers we try to not wake the fish with our bright lights but many times it can’t be avoided. If a sleeping fish is startled it will quickly swim off into the darkness and find another home but it can do serious damage to itself in the process. I have seen parrotfish wake up scared from lights and swim right into rocks and corals which could knock them out if they are not careful.

Parrotfishes are a group of about 90 species traditionally regarded as a family (Scaridae), but now often considered a subfamily (Scarinae) of the wrasses. They are found in relatively shallow tropical and subtropical oceans throughout the world, displaying their largest species richness in the Indo-Pacific. They are found in coral reefs, rocky coasts, and seagrass beds, and play a significant role in bioerosion. A number of parrotfish species, including the queen parrotfish (Scarus vetula), secrete a mucus cocoon, particularly at night.

Prior to going to sleep, some species extrude mucus from their mouths, forming a protective cocoon that envelops the fish, presumably hiding its scent from potential predators. This mucus envelope may also act as an early warning system, allowing the parrotfish to flee when it detects predators such as moray eels disturbing the membrane. The skin itself is covered in another mucous substance which may have antioxidant properties helpful in repairing bodily damage, or repelling parasites, in addition to providing protection from UV light. Although they are considered to be herbivores, parrotfish eat a wide variety of reef organisms, and they are not necessarily vegetarian.

Species such as the green humphead parrotfish (Bolbometopon muricatum) include coral (polyps) in their diets.  Their feeding activity is important for the production and distribution of coral sands in the reef biome, and can prevent algae from choking coral. The teeth grow continuously, replacing material worn away by feeding. Their pharyngeal teeth grind up the coral and coralline algae the fish ingest during feeding. After they digest the edible portions from the rock, they excrete it as sand, helping to create small islands and the sandy beaches of the Caribbean. One parrotfish can produce 90 kg (200 lb) of sand each year. Or, very averagely (as there are so many variables i.e. size/species/location/depth etc), about 275 g per parrotfish per day. While feeding, parrotfish must be cognizant of predation by one of their main predators, the lemon shark.

Have a great day.

Barry

Aug 19, 14     Comments (0)

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Bon Dia, that’s good morning in Papiamento, the main language on the island. As of yesterday we have a new batch of baby Caribbean reef squids so this morning I jumped in to welcome them to our little secluded lagoon. There are five that are so small (half inch or less) I can’t focus to get a sharp photo and three that are about an inch long. I of course had no option but to hang out with the three larger ones and they were a total blast! All of the baby squids float about a foot below the waters surface. When I photograph them from below I’m shooting up at blue sky like you see above, this creates such a great background but is very difficult to do. After about 15 minutes of looking through a tiny view-finder aiming straight up and being tossed around by the waves, not to mention holding your breath one becomes very dizzy and I personally can only take so much! I shot this at 160/f16, ISO-400, double strobes on low power. The eyes are so hard to shoot on squids, I still think it’s just a matter of odds, take a lot of photos and your bound to get a few good ones, never shoot eye to eye, it’s best to use angles. 

Not much else to report, we are taking Inca (our Dalmatian) in for x-rays tomorrow for her foot that got broke from a local man throwing rocks at her, will keep you posted. 

Have to run, stay tuned for more…..

Barry

Aug 18, 14     Comments (0)

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Good morning from the Caribbean, did you all have a great weekend?? I trust you are all getting the most out of those weekends right?? Some of our friends in South Dakota said they spent the weekend out hiking in the beautiful Black Hills while our friends in Arizona said they were out in their gardens and mountain biking, you gotta love summer time!! For us here in Curacao everyday is warm and sunny, it’s like a never ending summer. I guess that’s why everyone loves the Caribbean. I took off yesterday on a fast paced 35 mile mountain bike ride with a friend and came home completely wiped out, not from the ride but from the heat and wind and spent the rest of the day trying to recover.

Last Friday I took off on an early morning dive to photograph some of the corals we shot with the blue-light earlier in the week. What we love doing is going back out the next day after a blue-light dive and re-locate the exact same corals and photograph them during the day with their polyps closed, that way I can show you the before and after images. Of course as you can imagine finding the same corals during the day is not as easy as it sounds and many time we do not find them. So while out doing this task I visited one of my many residents that is always out there and that I can always count on finding. This is a beautiful Spotted Cleaner Shrimp, Periclimenes yucatanicus clinging to a Giant Anemone, Condylactis gigantea.

The spotted cleaner shrimp (Periclimenes yucatanicus), is a kind of cleaner shrimp common to the Caribbean Sea. These shrimp live among the tentacles of several species of sea anemones. They sway their body and wave their antennae in order to attract fish from which they eat dead tissue, algae and parasites.

The spotted cleaner shrimp grows to a length of about 2.5 cm (1 in). It has a transparent body patterned with brown and white saddle shaped markings. The chelae and legs are boldly striped in red, purple and white. There are two pairs of long white antennae banded in black.

The spotted cleaner shrimp is found at depths down to about 24 metres (79 ft) in the Caribbean Sea, southern Florida, the Bahamas and as far south as Colombia.

Breeding takes place in the summer and females have been seen brooding eggs under their abdomens in the months of July and August. After hatching, the larvae pass through several planktonic larval stages before settling on the seabed and undergoing metamorphosis into the adult form.

The spotted cleaner shrimp lives in close association with a sea anemone, either Condylactis gigantea, Lebrunia danae, Bartholomea lucida or Bartholomea annulata. It lives among the tentacles and up to six individual shrimps have been seen on one sea anemone. It swishes its antennae around in the water to attract the attention of passing reef fish. When they pose motionless beside the anemone, it emerges from the tentacles and removes and feeds on external parasites and flakes of loose skin from the fish. It even enters the mouths of fishes and cleans behind their gill covers apparently with no likelihood that it will get eaten.

It has also been found associated with the sea anemone Rhodactis sanctithomae in the US Virgin Islands, a species of anemone not previously recognised as a symbiont species. Also in the Virgin Islands, it has been seen on the tentacles of the jellyfish Cassiopea.

Have a great day, I have to get to the water.

Barry

Aug 15, 14     Comments Off

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Hey gang, I bet your glad it’s friday!! I have a fun video for you all today from Mark and Suzy of the World famous “the Dive Bus”. This is a video I shot of Mark as he hitched a ride on our 2.5 million dollar submersible named the Curasub. Inside the sub is Bruce and Aimee who you will see smiling through the window about half way through the video. Mark was on a mission and still is to capture some fun underwater video’s using the new fun toys and red filters that the folks at Go-Pro sent him, these are good friends to have right?? Here is the clip……..

http://youtu.be/sQmvf5KITeE

Well thanks again to our all knowing friend in Bonaire, Ellen Muller for identifying my photo of the day as an….. Actinoporus elegans, commonly known as the Elegant Anemone or the Brown-striped Anemone, is a species of sea anemone in the family Aurelianidae. This species may exhibit a high degree of colour variability, from blue to white to nearly transparent.

The column is smooth and textured near the top and bottom, growing to a maximum of 15 centimetres (5.9 in) in height and with a diameter of about 5 centimetres (2.0 in). The base, about the same diameter as the column, is deeply buried in the substratum. The disc is flat and also about the same diameter as the column. Although the surface of the disc is hidden by tentacles at the fringes, there is a small exposed area at the centre where the distance between them is greater. Both the base and column are mostly white with some clear areas. Near the disc, the ridges may be a translucent brown colour. This translucency is due to the thinness of the base and column walls.

The tentacles are short and wart-like, appearing almost non-existent, giving the surface of the disc a “finely beaded” appearance. They are arranged in irregular radial sections, more crowded at the margin of the disc than at the centre. The tentacles bear stinging nematocytes on the outer half of the ectoderm (outside layer). The tentacles may be opaque white or red, with spots of various colours such as yellow, brown, and pink on the tips, though white is more common at the fringe. The individual tentacles are unable to retract; however, the disc as a whole can almost be retracted totally.

A. elegans inhabits the tropical Atlantic Ocean, from the Caribbean Sea to Brazil. Although previously known only from the western Atlantic, populations were discovered in the east Atlantic at São Tomé and Príncipe in 2004 and in 2006, the first records of this species in the area.

This soft, almost jelly like thing is only 2 inches wide and is able to hide under the sand if threatened. It does not glow at all under blue-light, I already tried that the other night when I passed by.

Also, not related to anything in Curacao or my World underwater, check out the Worlds rarest comic book that is on Ebay right now, it’s still got 9 days left and is pushing 2 million dollars!!!! Yes you read that right, it’s the 1st appearance of Superman, check it out……..

http://www.ebay.com/itm/311050328393

Well, have a great weekend, I will be busy as usual!!

Cheers all,

Barry

 

Aug 14, 14     Comments Off

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Good morning friends, I’m waking up very tired after another late night out under the sea. Aimee and I jumped into the dark Caribbean sea at around 8:30 and spent an exciting hour searching for creatures and corals that fluoresce under blue-light. Within minutes of submerging Aimee started screaming underwater and signaled me with her light to come see what she had found. I raced to get over to her, I have learned that when this woman is excited about something she must have found something really good! She pointed down at the reef with her blue search light which was lighting up a giant bright red and green scorpionfish (1st and 2nd photo) it was so beautiful! I immediately wanted to cry because once again here I am with the wrong lens, I was only able to shoot his eye and the cool patterns on his pec fins. I honestly didn’t even know scorpionfish fluoresced?? I will now have to set up the camera with my 28-70 lens and go back out and try to find this guy again to photograph the whole fish, and your right that won’t be easy! While shooting the scorpionfish he never really moved, he kept pretty calm the whole time. We both really hated to leave our new found treasure but eventually we took off into the darkness to see what else was waiting for us. Photo #3 shows a clump of glowing algae nestled in front of a piece of fire coral with a little glowing green crab hanging in the background, we never even saw the crab until we looked at the photo this morning. Photo #4 is a super sexy little colony of corals with polyps extended and it’s only about 2-inches in length. The last photo is a little one inch ball of star coral and it was just begging to have it’s photo taken, it was also so incredible just sitting there with polyps extended. I had a difficult time last night because of the swell overhead, if you can’t keep the camera still your not going to get sharp photos! I bet I took 25 shots of the scorpionfish eye alone and only one came out due to the waves overhead throwing me around underwater. The other major hard thing is shooting with macro, I used a Nikon 2.8 105mm last night, this is a hard lens to focus with even on auto focus, the 60mm is much easier. 

So once again we had a great dive! I honestly find night diving more fun and more exciting than any daytime dive and it’s very quiet.

Have to run, have a great day.

Barry

Aug 13, 14     Comments Off

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Good evening friends, I have a super cool, live scorpion, seen under blue-light for your viewing pleasure today. I found this little one inch scorpion while out searching the coastline at night with our ultra bright blue search lights from Nightsea.com. Scorpions really glow under blue-light and this one stood out like a goatfish in a school of blue tangs (see yesterdays photo). This one here was perched on top of a discarded sea urchin skeleton which also turned out to be quite beautiful at night.

We have two different scorpions here in Curacao, one is called the Yellow Scorpion, Centruroides hasethi and the other is called a Black Scorpion, Diplocentrus hasethi and for the life of me I can’t figure out which one this is?? The yellow one is the largest with elongated claws and apparently the one most often seen while the black one is smaller, dark colored (but not black) and the claws have a rounder form.

Scorpions are predatory arthropod animals of the order Scorpiones within the class Arachnida. They have eight legs and are easily recognised by the pair of grasping pedipalps and the narrow, segmented tail, often carried in a characteristic forward curve over the back, ending with a venomous stinger. Scorpions range in size from 9 mm (Typhlochactas mitchelli) to 20 cm (Hadogenes troglodytes).

Scorpions are found widely distributed over all continents, except Antarctica, in a variety of terrestrial habitats except the high latitude tundra. Scorpions number about 1,752 described species, with 13 extant families recognised to date. The taxonomy has undergone changes and is likely to change further, as a number of genetic studies are bringing forth new information.

Scorpion venom has a fearsome reputation, but only about 25 out of almost 1500 species are known to have venom capable of killing a human being. The Curacao scorpions are harmless, the sting is about the same as a wasp or bee. If stung, putting a copper penny over a bite works pretty darn well, I do this all the time now for wasp stings.

Scorpions are found on all major land masses except Antarctica. Scorpions did not occur naturally in Great Britain, New Zealand and some of the islands in Oceania, but have now been accidentally introduced in some of these places by human trade and commerce. The greatest diversity of scorpions in the Northern Hemisphere is to be found in the subtropical areas lying between latitudes 23° N and 38° N. Above these latitudes, the diversity decreases, with the northernmost occurrence of scorpions being the northern scorpion Paruroctonus boreus at 50° N.

Today, scorpions are found in virtually every terrestrial habitat, including high-elevation mountains, caves and intertidal zones, with the exception of boreal ecosystems, such as the tundra, high-altitude taiga and the permanently snow-clad tops of some mountains. As regards microhabitats, scorpions may be ground-dwelling, tree-living, lithophilic (rock-loving) or psammophilic (sand-loving); some species, such as Vaejovis janssi, are versatile and found in every type of habitat in Baja California, while others occupy specialised niches such as Euscorpius carpathicus, which occupies the littoral zone of the shore.

Aimee and I are taking off on another blue-light night dive tonight and later this week is coral spawning, there will be no rest for this family!

Cheers all, thanks for all the support.

Barry

Aug 12, 14     Comments Off

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Hi friends,

Here’s a colorful photo of a big school of Blue Tangs cruising through the reef with a single goatfish (yellow fish) trying hard to blend in. I really had quite a laugh underwater watching this single goatfish, it’s like he always wanted to be a blue tang and figured they wouldn’t even notice if he hung out with them. We see these large groups called “aggregations” on the reef here every single day and I still never seem to get tired of it, they are just so beautiful. Adult blue tangs have three social modes: territorial, wandering, and schooling. Territorial adults defend their home rage from other members of the species. Schooling adults are not aggressive. Wanderer adults are not aggressive nor do they interact with other individuals like schooling fish do. Wanderers are mostly chased by other fish including Ocean surgeonfish and damselfishes. Occasionally, Blue Tangs form large multi-species aggregations with other surgeonfishes as seen above.

Blue tangs may benefit from forming schools for two reasons. First, individuals may experience lower rates of predation when feeding in large groups. Second, by feeding in groups, fish might be able to work together to overcome the territorial defenses of other fishes. For example, a single blue tang is easily chased away by an aggressive damselfish defending its territory. However, when a large school of blue tangs and their schoolmates try to feed on algae in a damselfish’s territory, there is little that the damselfish can do.  When this occurs, the damselfish frantically, but ultimately fruitlessly, attempts to chase away their more numerous attackers while the school consumes all of the algae in their territories.

Blue tangs are active during the day, hiding in crevices on the reef at night to avoid predators.

Juvenile blue tangs are solitary and occupy home ranges that increase with body size. Juveniles aggressively defend their home ranges from juvenile ocean surgeonfish. Juveniles also avoid damselfishes that overlap in range with them.

It’s blazing HOT in Curacao today, if your headed this way bring your sunblock!

See you soon, Barry

Aug 11, 14     Comments Off

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Good morning from the Caribbean all! Friday night Aimee and I took off on a blue-light night dive at around 8:00. I had already gotten the camera setup and all the dive gear ready during the day so all we had to do was take our gear out and put it on, it doesn’t get any easier! Aimee was again my finder of cool stuff, it helps so much to have someone with good eyes searching the reef and calling you over when something is found. How does one get ones attention under the sea at night in complete darkness you ask?? Well we have three ways, pull on the persons fin (most fun), signal them with your dive light (blinding but effective) or get their attention with an underwater rattle (noise maker), you just shake it and it makes noise underwater, my favorite. The downside to signaling with your light is you can easily blind a person and then you see spots for the next minute or so. We ended up having a wonderful dive, the little fireworm at the top was one of our favorite things we found, talk about a beautiful creature!! The second photos shows a baby coral with it’s glowing polyps extended, these are very common to see at night and one of my favorites. The third photo is the eye of a buried flounder with some kind of cool antenna swaying back and forth on top of his head and the last photo shows a tiny little anemone we found in the sand that you would never see during the day or even at night with white lights. These photos were shot using an Ikelite housing, three Ikelite DS-160 sub-strobes (set on full power), a Nikon D-800 with the ISO set at 800, manual mode/160-F16-29 and full blue light strobe covers from NightSea. I also set the exposure compensation for +5. Why?? Beause you loose so much light by trying to shoot through those dark purple/blue glass filters over the strobes, every bit of added light helps, you can even take the ISO way higher if needed. And don’t forget the yellow screw on filter over the lens or a yellow plastic filter to fit any dome from NightSea, (link on the home page).

How is your summer treating you?? Would love to see some photos of those gardens we have heard about and some real grass! Curacao is getting very hot and the little rain we got last month is now gone. Riding through the wilds here yesterday I noticed that even the cactus are suffering and could really use a drink. We continue to take food and water out to the desert everyday to our two big water stations. Yesterday we noticed a beautiful snake in one of our water bowls taking a morning swim and the iguana’s are just loving the pools during the day! At night the bowls are filled with hermit crabs and night creatures but dissapear the minute the sun rises.

My 3o mile bike ride yesterday was blistering hot and crazy windy, I sure do miss riding in the States!

I finished the giant bird cage for the injured parakeet yesterday and we put him in there yesterday afternoon, so far so good. This is the first time in a month or more that he is out of our dog crate and now sitting in the sun and getting to enjoy the view, we are looking for a home for him but I am sure we will keep him for awhile.

Inca still has a swollen foot and is unable to walk very well, we have her on some new meds but if that doesn’t help we will be getting x-rays next.

We have a sub dive at 11:00 today and I have nothing ready so I better go. Have a great monday and send me those summer time photos.

Cheers, Barry

 

Aug 8, 14     Comments Off

BAR-

Hi gang, I have been busy getting my blue-light equipment ready for a night-dive tonight with Aimee. We usually wait till around 7:30 or 8:00 before we jump in the sea that way all the nocturnal creatures have time to crawl out giving us better odds of finding them. Tonight we are in search of a little fish (blenny or Goby) that hides in the open polyps of corals. Twice now we came back with photos and after viewing them on the computer realized that there is a fish in there as well, so tonight with Aimee’s help we will try to just find him and get a nice macro shot. As fun as the blue-light dives are they require a lot of additional work before the dive like setting up the camera, getting the yellow glasses and search lights ready and making sure the dive gear is good to go. Once underwater it’s always worth the effort and the dive itself goes by super fast!

Our school of 30+ squids is now down to around 6, they have all grown up and taken to the sea. These are the last of our little babies for now meaning I saw a big momma squid placing new eggs under a rock in the same area just a few days ago. Usually once they grow up they will one day magically take off out the reef and join other squids in what I call “a squadron of squids” They look like fighter  planes all spaced equally apart flying or swimming in this cool formation and constantly flashing their neon colors!

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, I’m finishing my giant bird cage tomorrow, walking the one dog, bike riding Sunday and diving with dolphins after, that’s my weekend!

Take care out there, be back soon.

Barry

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