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 1, 15     Comments (0)

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Good morning all, today is “Flag Day” here in Curacao, a major holiday so Aimee and I both have the day off. Sorry about the no blog yesterday I was busying with diving with the submersible and working on my new fireworm collage which is taking way longer than I had hoped. Multiple times I thought I was done with this project but when I enlarged the photo to 100% some of the worms were not perfectly sharp which means I had to jump in again, find more worms and re-shoot them under blue-light at dusk, I think I have done 5 worm dives now. On worm dive #3, I thought why not shoot the same exact worm under normal white light and then photograph it again under blue-light (above) which really shows you just how much they fluoresce and why we love them so much. The background of this photo is a netted vase sponge and so far seems to be the best place we have found to shoot them. On my last worm adventure a few nights ago I was again bothered by Mr. Grumpy, our resident six foot plus spotted moray eel, he really made an easy job quite difficult. Because these animals (eels) have such a great sense of smell they come racing over to me because they smell the tiny pieces of food in my worm containers and think I am there to feed them or something?? The one we have here becomes very aggressive and races around the sponge and darting in and out of every hole in the reef in search of the food he thinks I have, he makes me very nervous and for obvious reasons I can’t start shooting the worms until he is gone!

These creature are what I call “bad to the bone” and I avoid contact with them on a daily basis! If you were to brush up against one with your bare skin you will be stung beyond belief and be left with blisters and welts!! The reason for this is because they have thousands of little hairs that are just like stinging Fire coral! Aimee once brushed up against one and paid for it for about a month, it is one of the most painful stinging animals in the sea. The Polychaeta or polychaetes are a class of annelid worms, generally marine. Each body segment has a pair of fleshy protrusions called parapodia that bear many bristles, called chaetae, which are made of chitin. Indeed, polychaetes are sometimes referred to as bristle worms. More than 10,000 species are described in this class. Common representatives include the lugworm and the sandworm or clam worm Nereis. Polychaetes as a class are robust and widespread, with species that live in the coldest ocean temperatures of the abyssal plain, to forms which tolerate the extreme high temperatures near hydrothermal vents. Polychaetes occur throughout the Earth’s oceans at all depths, from forms that live as plankton near the surface, to a 2–3 cm specimen observed by the robot ocean probe Nereus at the bottom of the Challenger Deep, the deepest spot in the Earth’s oceans. Only 168 species are known from fresh waters. 

Well, we are off on a morning adventure to the North coast with the three dogs, have a wonderful day out there….

Barry

Jun 30, 15     Comments (0)

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Good morning friends, getting my camera and dive gear ready for another fun filled night dive that I will do either tonight or tomorrow, depends on if I go mountain biking after work or not. 

I have a laughing gull for you all today that I photographed in flight on our last adventure to our small island of Klein Curacao. While the kids played in the sand and the adults were swimming I went on a little walk in search of anything fun to shoot and immediately came across a bunch of these birds hanging out on the beach. As I watched they would swoop down to the water line and take small baths in the little tidal pools, it was so cool but I was unable to get very close. I kept trying to sneak up on them but was having almost no luck at all getting close and I am sure folks were watching me from a distance and just shaking their heads and laughing. I remember a few years ago at Buddy Dive in Bonaire we had these birds fly in and sit on our table while eating breakfast, I got some killer shots of those little clowns. 

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. 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. The black hood is mostly lost in winter.

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.

Have a great day…

Barry

Jun 29, 15     Comments (0)

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Good morning from Curacao. I had another fantastic blue-light dive saturday evening and again… like every photo dive learned all kinds of new tricks and techniques. For my blue-light photographers out there I have now learned that if you want to shoot better animals (not corals) go out at dusk when it is still a little light, your subjects will be sharper and it’s so much easier to focus when there is still a tad bit of ambient light above. I found this super cool juvenile lizardfish (above) that was only about six inches in length and as you can see glows beautiful under blue-light. The hard part was getting close enough for a shot, every single time I was just about to click the shutter button for a photo he would swim off and park in a new spot, talk about frustrating, it seems like the adults are much less afraid. Finally after 30 attempts, he finally just either got used to me or said “Ok, go ahead and take your photo already” either way I was a happy camper. I shot these two top photos in manual mode again at 160/F16 with the brand new “easy to use” Ikelite blue-light system, both my strobes were set on high (not TTL). For those of you not wanting to get into manual mode photography, you should be able to get similar effects with either your (P-Mode-program) or (A-Mode-automatic) and then set the strobes to TTL, just watch your F-stop and make sure you have it set high enough otherwise you won’t get much depth of field in these two modes. My blue-light dives are turning into less bad photos and more good ones meaning concentrate on one or two things instead of trying to get 50-100 so-so shots. I found the two very colorful and very different fireworms on a vase sponge at 65 feet, talk about a wild bunch of colors, I just love these animals! I’m still working on my fireworm collage and hope to have it done this week, so hang in there, it’s going to be really cool!

Our little island is stuck in a major drought, the wind continues to blow and talking to most locals they say this is not normal, gotta love global warming. I had a fun, very busy weekend, got in a nice 20 mile mountain ride yesterday and worked on lots of different fun projects including our new driftwood Christmas tree for 2015.

Hope you all are well out there, have a wonderful day all!!!

Barry

Jun 25, 15     Comments (0)

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Good morning friends, for the past three weeks on wednesdays evenings Aimee and I have been working on a big blue-light fireworm project that I should have done for you to see in the next few days. What we have been doing is collecting fireworms during the day under our floating platform (there are tons) putting them in little cups with lids, dropping in some food and then putting the cups in a mesh bag and attaching it to our down line where it stays until darkness. I collect the worms during the day because at night they are harder to find, they tend to hide under rocks and if you went looking for them at night you wouldn’t find as many. Then at around 6:30, we jump in with the camera that is all set up for blue-light photos, untie the fireworms (who are eating away) and down we go to around 65 feet to a selected vase sponge and dump them in. Good thing for me fireworms are slow moving, this gives me plenty of time to shoot them all and Aimee is next to me with a long zip-tie making sure they stay in the sponge until I tell her we are good to go. Every fireworm glows a different color under blue-light, so we thought why not create a fun collage with them all, it’s something you won’t see anywhere else. Normally we have been taking around 15-20 fireworms down at a time (last night only seven) and once finished with them they are free to go out onto the reef, we actually have way to many under the platform because our fisherman toss dead fish into that area all the time creating a fireworm paradise of sorts! Our dive last week was super crazy from start to finish…. It started the second we dumped the fireworms into the vase sponge, Aimee started screaming underwater and grabbed my BC and pulled me away from the sponge which later proved to be a very smart move! I looked up at her and she pointed down to a giant six foot spotted moray eel that must have smelled the little pieces of fish that where in the fireworm containers, he was super aggressive and very hungry! We couldn’t get rid of him and Aimee was still screaming but had now gone higher off the reef to safety while I instead decided to defend my ground and my fireworms, I mean heck I didn’t go through all this work to get chased off by a crazy eel! The eel was now on the sponge and smelling the fish, I put my camera between me and him and tried to scare him away but this only made things worse! He grabbed my camera in his mouth and shook it violently but I held on, he’s wasn’t about to get away with this! He finally let go and I used my fins to fan him away but all he did was swim about eight feet away to where he thought it was safe and parked himself there for the whole dive making my woman crazy with fear the whole time. Yep, the things we do for these photos, most of you will never know! The rest of the dive was pretty much complete chaos, I would be trying to shoot the worms and then Aimee would either scream or turn my body away from the eel that was apparently trying to swim up off the reef and bite my legs when I was shooting, good thing Aimee was there to keep an eye out. He did come back over to us multiple times and we did toss the fish pieces down to him in hopes of getting rid of him but feeding him had the opposite effect. In the end I got a few good shots of the worms but not what I needed that’s why we went again last night. Then after all this excitment I looked at my air guage and noticed I was pretty much out of air and still at 60 feet, again thank-God Aimee was there! So last night we again had a eel problem but minor compared to the last dive. This time it was a giant six foot plus green moray eel that was parked at our sponge. These eels are not as aggressive and I gently used my fins to scare him away but not before noticing he had a black brotula swimming in and out of his mouth and cleaning his face, man was that ever cool, talk about your RARE fish sightings! We had already released two fireworms into the vase when I noticed out of the corner of my eye, way down deep on the reef a giant southern stingray swimming under us, he was amazing! We both left the worms and swam out over the reef and watched him hunting for food on the reef below us, I think he was at around 110 feet. I can’t even tell you how bad I wished I was holding a camera with a wide angle lens, I would have loved to have photographed that stingray, it was hands down the biggest one I have ever seen! After watching him slip into the darkness we both went back to work shooting our seven worms which takes longer than one would think. On our way up the reef we ran into your photo of the day, a big lionfish out hunting and as you can tell blue-lights don’t really react to these fish that much but it’s kind of a cool effect.

Myth #1: Lionfish are poisonous.

Truth: Lionfish are venomous, not poisonous– there is a difference. Although both venomous and poisonous animals produce a toxin that can be harmful to other organisms, the method of delivery is different. Venomous organisms use a specific apparatus like spines or teeth to inject their toxin. Poisonous organisms, on the other hand, require their victim to ingest or absorb the toxin. Lionfish possess venomous dorsal, pelvic, and anal spines that deliver toxin through an unpleasant puncture wound. Each spine is surrounded by a loose sheath that is pushed down during envonemation, compressing two venom glands located down then length of the spine. Neurotoxic venom then travels through two parallel grooves up the spine and into an unhappy victim. On the bright side, this means that as long as you stay away from the spines, you’re good to go!

I have a sub dive soon that I need to prepare for, have a wonderful day all!

Cheers, Barry

Jun 23, 15     Comments (0)

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Good morning all, we are getting the submersible ready for a dive this morning and should be underway at around 11:15. If your lucky you can see us pass by at around 50 feet on our live online camera at www.seesubmarine.com  remember there is a one hour delay so what your seeing actually happened one hour ago.

We have been under cloudy skies these past few days but still zero rain, I would do just about anything for a little rain right now, the island needs it so badly. Aimee and I continue to get up early every morning and haul as much water and bird seed out to our multiple water feeding stations in the desert, it’s such an easy thing to do and the animals are loving it!

I have a close-up shot of the eye of a giant red trumpetfish for you all today that I took a few weeks ago while out trying to get more “fish faces” with my macro lens. These fish are not shy at all and you can get very close to them especially if they are in hunting mode. They spend their days hanging upside down waiting for some poor fish to pass by, they are really quite the hunters and have an amazing amount of patience, kind of like a waiting scorpionfish.

Trumpetfish occur in waters between 0.5 and 30 meters (1.6 and appr. 100 feet) deep and can grow to 40 to 80 cm (appr. 15 to 31+ inches) in length. They are sometimes locally abundant over coral atoll reefs or in lagoons, where they may be caught even in areas of severe wave action. The spawning habits of the trumpetfish are unknown, but in the region around Madeira, it is known that the females have mature eggs from March to JuneTrumpetfish are closely related to cornetfish. Trumpetfish can be a bit more than 36 inches (3 ft) long and have greatly elongated bodies with small jaws at the front end of a long, tubular snout. The gills are pectinate, resembling the teeth of a comb, and a soft dorsal fin is found near the tail fin. A series of spines occurs in front of the dorsal fin. Trumpetfish vary in color from dark brown to greenish but also yellow in some areas. A black streak, sometimes reduced to a dark spot, occurs along the jaw, and a pair of dark spots is sometimes found on the base of the tail fin.

Trumpetfish swim slowly, sneaking up on unsuspecting prey, or lying motionless like a floating stick, swaying back and forth with the wave action of the water. They are adept at camouflaging themselves and often swim in alignment with other larger fishes. They feed almost exclusively on small fish, such as wrasses and atheriniformes,by sucking them suddenly into their small mouths.

There is another fish similar to a Trumpetfish called a Cornetfish often mistaken for a trumpetfish. The key visible difference is the tail, pointed “T” in a cornetfish and rounded fan-shaped in a trumpetfish. In the years I have been here in Curacao I have only seen two cornetfish, they are so hard to find and very scared of their own shadows!!

I have to get ready to dive…

Have a wonderful day.

Barry

 

Jun 22, 15     Comments (0)

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Good afternoon one and all, I have another Scrawled Filefish photo for your viewing pleasure today that I snapped last week while out playing with our 2.5 million dollar submersible. Most of you have seen this exact fish before, he or she is one of my “locals” and has gotten more or less used to me and my big scary camera over the years which as you can imagine is a big plus if your an underwater photographer. Have I named him you ask?? No but now that I think about it, designating a few fish names to my “regulars” might be a great idea, just need some fun fish names now, I can’t just call him Mike or Steve.

We started out the day with our car getting dropped off to our local mechanic and hopefully it will be ready for us later this afternoon, it’s in desperate need of a new starter. I had a whole list of photo projects that had to be done this morning before I could start on this blog like sending pictures for consideration to Ranger Rick kids magazine. Every few months Ranger Rick sends out a “want list” to all the top photographers and we try as hard as we can to produce these wanted images. Today I sent in about 40 jumping dolphin photos, if I’m lucky they will pick one, cross your fingers.

My weekend went by so fast! Yesterday for example I left the house a little after 6:00 and got in a fast paced 22 mile mountain bike ride which was three loops around the salt ponds, it was bone dry but super fun! I then went beach combing for a few hours gathering everything from driftwood to beach glass all which will be kept for more fun craft projects down the road. After checking on the dogs and dropping off my finds I drove out to the place where our turtles are living and dug a deep hole and planted a big frangipani tree. Aimee and I have a yard full of potted frangipani trees that are all in need of homes, (we rescued them) if you live here and you want one come by and pick one up, please…. After getting back home and letting dogs out I agin went for a few more hours to the beach and then later at 4:00 met Aimee and we took all three dogs for a fun walk to the shaded area (the forest) at the salt ponds, I did trail cleaning while the dogs played and Aimee took photos. Then last but not least we went to a big Fathers Day party out at Stijn’s grandparents and ate like kings, it was so much fun and was a perfect ending to a fun filled day!!

We are still an island without rain and the wind is still blowing full blast, what a strange year!

I have to run…

Barry

 

Jun 19, 15     Comments (0)

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Good afternoon all, I had a bunch of folks asking about beer on Curacao and found a little information just for you. Our top selling beer is Polar Beer (made in Venezuela), it’s kind of like the Budweiser of Curacao. Then we have Amstel Bright (seen here inside the bucket) which tastes almost exactly like the the Mexican Corona, and of course the most famous beer is Heineken being that this is a Dutch island. We also have a multitude of beers from Belgium and Germany that have double or triple the alcohol that will for sure have you wondering where you left your car the night before. Many of the local canned beers are sold in tiny little cans, about half the size of a regular beer, we have no idea why this is?? There is a beer called BRION that says “Curacao Beer” on the label but is brewed in Barbados, not sure anything is actually brewed here on the island. 

Have a wonderful weekend all, see you monday……

Barry

Jun 18, 15     Comments Off

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Good morning friends, how many of you out there remember the little dog we found in our workers woodpile four years ago?? Remember we called her our “lucky dog”?? The top photo shows how she looked when we brought her home with every skin disease under the sun and hardly any hair. Well her name is JOY and she has had a home for the past four years until now….. Joys owner recently decided out of the clear blue that she doesn’t want her anymore and returned her back to CARF (Curacao Animal Rescue Foundation) yeah, what kind of people are we dealing with right, talk about heartless! So once again we are in need of another family in need of a great dog, and I mean this is a GREAT dog that is super friendly, sterilized, potty trained and just loves to have fun! We shot the video above a few days ago out at Saint Joris Bay, look at her rolling in the sargassum, such a fun animal! The two bottom photos were also taken this weekend by Aimee, Joy has such great hair and in general is one beautiful black dog, if you know of anyone with a great home, please let me know, we really appreciate the help. And last but not least we would be willing to deliver this dog to a US address if interested, we have done it before!

This is what Aimee wrote on her Facebook page today as well….

Hi everyone, this is Joy! Joy as you may remember is a puppy we rescued as a little 7 week old puppy from underneath a wood pile. She had no hair and severe mange. We gave her medical care and tons of love and training and found her a great home. That great home, however, recently turned her back into CARF (Curacao Animal Rescue Foundation)……..after having her for 4 years! So, Barry and I are now fostering her at our place, and she is a wonderful dog. She has easily fit into our house, is good with our dogs and cat. She walks nicely on a leash, sits for leash on and off, rides in the car easily and settles down for a nap and just loves to be in the same room as her humans. Joy is also sterilized and vaccinated. She is truly remarkable and deserves the best home ever. Please pass the word on and help me find a great home that a great dog deserves. She would certainly be able to be adopted not only in Curacao, but also Holland and America. Fingers crossed, I will let everyone know!

barry@coralreefphotos.com

Have a great day out there.

Barry

Jun 17, 15     Comments Off

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Good morning friends, here’s my new blue-light photo I took yesterday at dusk of a tiny, one inch long Bearded Fireworm crawling over a mound of brain coral, talk about cool contrasting colors! As you may or may not know our friends at Ikelite just came out with a whole line of easy to use blue-light gadgets for your underwater cameras which will for sure turn a normal dive into something new and exciting! What I’m doing is using a Nikon D-800 with a 105/2.8 lens and setting the ISO to 1000, you can go much higher if your needing more light. I then set my camera settings to (M-Manual Mode) 160/F20 (for instance) and turn my exposure compensation all the way up to +5.0, this allows even more light which you will need due to the dark blue filters (from Ikelite) that cover your strobes. Speaking of strobes, I’m using two of the Ikelite DS-160′s (set on full power) and I have an Ikelite yellow filter that covers the outside of my macro dome and get this… if you want to shoot something in white light during your dive just adjust your ISO back to where it was, remove the yellow filter (velcro) and pop-off the filters from your flashes, takes about 20 seconds! I put a link below to the new Ikelite fluorescence page, if you have time check it out, this is the perfect gift for that diver that thinks they have everything! Oh yeah, one more thing, I also wear a pair of the Ikelite yellow glasses over my mask and use an Ikelite VEGA with a blue-light filter as my main search light, I know it sounds like a lot but man-o-man what fun, it’s like your diving on another planet where everything glows!

http://www.ikelite.com/accessories/fluorescence/

Lots to do and guess what?? We finally had a tiny bit of rain!! I hope more is on the way!

Happy Diving from Curacao and thanks again Ikelite….

Barry

Jun 16, 15     Comments Off

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Good morning friends, sorry about the shortage of blogs lately but I have had a few very busy days. Yesterday for example we had 11 students from CIEE Research Station in Bonaire meaning I had to do three dives just to get everyone in the submersible photographed, that’s a lot of work! On top of that, after the third dive I had to do another “photo dive” because yesterday was “Nature Day” which is a Worldwide event and in order to submit photos to any competition they must be taken on yesterdays date. So during the day I set up my blue light underwater outfit and at around 6:00 set out on my fourth dive. The very first thing I found was this giant Common Octopus who lives right under our floating platform. He has moved into a hole we have in our concrete wall and just sits there all day long watching the world swim or crawl by with just his big, beautiful eyes sticking out. There is a red cleaner shrimp in the left hand corner behind some rocks and a little orange Cardinalfish (on the middle right) hovering in the cave with him but because the photo is so small they are very hard to spot. It was still light out at 6:00 when I shot this but when I returned an hour later he was gone, I will try and shoot a little video clip of him in his hole for you today when I head out again at 11:00. After taking a few shots of the octopus I set out to do some fun blue-light shots (easier said than done) I will send you one of those tomorrow.

The common octopus would be unique for its appearance alone, with its massive bulbous head, large eyes, and eight distinctive arms. But by far the most striking characteristic of the octopus is the wide array of techniques it uses to avoid or thwart attackers.

It’s first—and most amazing—line of defense is its ability to hide in plain sight. Using a network of pigment cells and specialized muscles in its skin, the common octopus can almost instantaneously match the colors, patterns, and even textures of its surroundings. Predators such as sharks, eels, and dolphins swim by without even noticing it.

When discovered, an octopus will release a cloud of black ink to obscure its attacker’s view, giving it time to swim away. The ink even contains a substance that dulls a predator’s sense of smell, making the fleeing octopus harder to track. Fast swimmers, they can jet forward by expelling water through their mantles. And their soft bodies can squeeze into impossibly small cracks and crevices where predators can’t follow.

If all else fails, an octopus can lose an arm to escape a predator’s grasp and regrow it later with no permanent damage. They also have beaklike jaws that can deliver a nasty bite, and venomous saliva, used mainly for subduing prey.

Considered the most intelligent of all invertebrates, the common octopus is found in the tropical and temperate waters of the world’s oceans. They can grow to about 4.3 feet (1.3 meters) in length and weigh up to 22 pounds (10 kilograms), although averages are much smaller. They prey on crabs, crayfish, and mollusks, and will sometimes use their ink to disorient their victims before attacking. Thanks to National Geographic for that nice bit of information….

http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/invertebrates/common-octopus/

Hope all is well out there…

Barry

Jun 11, 15     Comments Off

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Hey gang, as may or may not know our island is patrolled everyday by Coast Guard planes and helicopters. With its remote beaches, tourist traffic and ties to Europe and being so close to Venezuela, this palm-fringed Dutch corner of the Caribbean is a paradise – for drug traffickers. The Royal Netherlands Navy in the Caribbean plays an important role in upholding the international rule of law. Given the geographical location of the islands, this particularly involves fighting international drug trafficking by sea. The Royal Netherlands Navy in the Caribbean therefore works in close coordination with the international drug-fighting organization Joint Interagency Task Force South, located in Key West, Florida. I think this is a Bombardier Dash 8-106. This plane flies low and fast almost daily in front of the Sea Aquarium and for years I have been photographing it as it flew by.

Last week when we were on the island of Klein Curacao one of the three Coast Guard Cutters arrived and dropped anchor on the island for the whole day, talk about feeling safe! Not sure which of the three ships this one is, we have the Jaguar, the Panther and Puma, all are Damen built/Damen Stan Patrol 4100s. They are designed for service in the coastal waters of the Caribbean islands. The cutters are suitable for carrying out all coast guard tasks. With the onboard RHIB, boarding operations can be performed. The cutter is over 41 metres (135 ft) long, has a crew of eleven and a speed exceeding 26 knots (48 km/h).

Each boat has radar, infrared cameras, night vision binoculars, an ION-scan, a fixed 12,7mm Machinegun and a rotatable water cannon. Furthermore, they are equipped with photographic and video equipment to collect evidence.

The DCCG (Dutch Caribbean Coast guard) is planning on replacing the cutters by 2018.

Have a wonderful day out there…

Barry

Jun 10, 15     Comments Off

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Good morning friends, as many of you already know, Aimee and I have been working hard on a new project for the Smithsonian Institution and finally it is posted and live! You can go to this link……

https://ocean.si.edu/ocean-news/coral-letters-message-corals-curacao

and read more about our fun coral letters and download your own version of one of the four colorful cards above. For the past year I have done countless dives with my macro lens looking at every brain coral I could find in search of all the letters in the alphabet and in the end I not only found one complete set but two! During the massive searching process we also found all the needed numbers (0-9), punctuation marks of all kinds, fun abstract designs, countless hearts, and my favorites… assorted animals and figures. A large portion of the brain corals have been wiped out from the shallows due to global warming and some of the worst coral bleaching in years. We ended up having to dive deeper than expected but with that said we were constantly surprised at what we found. The day we found the incredible “A” was a dive I will never forget, that coral was at 110 feet and the “A” was screaming “take my photo”, it was so easy to see even from a distance. As you can see above from the letters themselves they are found in all different colors, our favorites which are the hardest to find are the lime green and brown like the “Y”, “L” and “D” you see above. These letters will also be for sale down the road to all who would like their name printed in coral, talk about the perfect gift for your ocean loving friends!!

Lots to do.

Barry

Jun 9, 15     Comments Off

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Good morning from Curacao, the island where it apparently NEVER rains! I had a ton of requests for more kid photos so here’s another from our fun day at Klein Curacao. For those of you in search of the purest sand in the Caribbean, this is where you will find it! The sand here is absolutely beautiful, it looks white when you first see it from a distance but when the water hits it you see it is more of a light brown and it’s as soft as sand gets, you know… the kind you just want to roll in! The two kids we had with us were ages 3 and 5 and for them this was paradise, they even asked Aimee more than once, “why don’t we just go the beach everyday”, good question. Klein Curacao also has some of the best snorkeling around, granted there’s not a lot of corals but there are turtles and dolphins and the view underwater gives you that feeling of being in a big fish bowl. If you go, take your sunscreen and lip protection, this place heats up like no other place I have ever been to. I always tell everyone, from the hours of 10-4 you either need to be in the water or in the shade, walking around in the sun is not an option and drink lots of water!

Not much going on around here today, the island is pretty quiet these days due to the lack of tourists during the summer. I may be doing a night dive tonight to the Superior Producer, will see how the day goes.

Hope all is well out there…..

Later, Barry

Jun 8, 15     Comments Off

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Good morning friends, how was your weekend?? I’m recovering from a serious “over the bars crash” I took during my 20 mile mountain bike race on Saturday. Before the race I decided to mix things up a bit and for once start at the back of the pack, I wanted to see how many people I could pass in the 3 long loops we had to do, sounds like a good challenge right?? The way I figured was no one will pass me, I have nothing to loose. So about three miles into the race I stupidly passed 4 riders on a steep downhill and crashed trying to make the tight sandy corner at the bottom, not only was this mega embarrassing but they all rode right by me as I laid in the dirt! As I stood up I felt a sharp pain in my knee, elbow and hip all which were leaking this pretty red stuff down the side of my body but that doesn’t stop a seasoned mountain biker from getting back on the saddle and temporally forgetting about the pain. I ended up passing around 35-40 people, putting me in the top 20%, that’s good enough for me.

Our family took off back to New Mexico early Saturday morning but not after getting in one more super fun day of fun in the sun at Blue Bay Resort. This is such a great place, you have some of the best diving in Curacao, a full bar and restaurant, a forest of palm trees littered with orange beach chairs and a spectacular protected beach and wildlife everywhere, it’s well worth the few bucks you need to pay for entry. The two young girls kept busy non-stop with either playing in the sand or snorkeling in the sea and let me tell you it was hard to get them to leave. Aimee stayed in the water most of the time with the girls teaching them how to snorkel and how to use our new Ikelite GoPro setup, it’s so easy a child can use it! And as you guessed I walked around with my camera and took photos, heck someone has to do it! While Aimee played with the kids the parents took off into the water and explored the underwater world with their mask and fins and came back with all kinds of stories of fish they had spotted including the hard to spot flounders.

Hope everyone is doing well out there, we are still praying for rain!

Cheers..

Barry

Jun 5, 15     Comments Off

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Good morning friends, what a fun day we had yesterday at Klein Curacao!! Klein means small in Dutch, we took the Mermaid ( tour boat) to our smaller very remote deserted island of Klein Curacao and just played in the water and sand all day, talk about fun! We arrived at the Mermaid’s dock at a little after 6:00 am and we set sail around 6:45, I think the trip there only took around an hour and a half. All of us sat up on the upper deck, the two kids we had with us age 3 and 5 (top photo) loved the boat ride even though many of the passengers didn’t due to large waves making many sea-sick… but not the kids! The total distance from one island to another was only around 15 miles but in rough seas that can seem like a long ways, the good side is, going back you have the waves rolling with you and it’s  a super smooth ride! Once ashore, the Mermaid group attends to breakfast and after a quick bite you are on your own to head out and explore the island. There is so much to do here like exploring the 1800′s lighthouse, walk over to the east side of the island and go beach combing, check out the massive ship wrecks, go diving, snorkel, play in the sand, relax in the shade and listen to the waves, go bird watching, surfing and on and on, what a great little island! I pretty much tried to keep up with the two cute younger ones following with my camera but I found out quickly these two move fast and one has to be ready for anything! Before it got to hot we all walked to the very antique lighthouse which is located pretty much right in the middle of the island and did a little exploring. The lighthouse is super run-down and unsafe to climb but many still see this as a challenge and some how manage to climb to the top. The lighthouse is still working even today, at night it emits a unique light signal to help keep any more boats from hitting the island in the darkness. At 12:30 the Mermaid rings a giant brass bell alerting all that it’s lunch time!! This crew knows how to feed people with an all you can eat BBQ including ribs, chicken, hamburgers, fresh fruit, salads, bread, if you went just for the lunch alone you would be one happy camper!! After lunch it’s back to the beach for more snorkeling and soaking up the sun and surprisingly the girls made it through the whole day without a nap and slept on the boat ride home, what a great day!

http://www.mermaidboattrips.com

We are off to Blue Bay now for another afternoon of sand and sun, see you soon….

Barry

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