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.
May 26, 16 Comments (0)
Good morning all, a few days ago I posted a photo of this very same hermit crab but in a different shell, here’s the story of how that happened… Last Friday I found and photographed this new giant hermit crab and he was in an old beat-up shell that barely fit him, (check out the older blog photo). So after getting out of the water I ran into my office and grabbed some other empty shells for him and tossed them in the water next to him but they also turned out to be either to small or the same size as the one he already was in. I did jump in again and I watched as he measured one of the shells out for size but after checking it out decided it was the same as the one he had and left it. So I again got out of the water and ran over to the sea-lion area where I knew they had a collection of old Queen conch shells sitting on top of a wall and asked if I could take one for my crab, they said no problem. I then ran back to where he was and without getting in the water tossed the giant shell in and it landed about three feet away from him, I knew he would find it. As it was the end of the day (Friday) I had to go and figured all would be alright, I pretty much knew he would find the shell and that would be that and I most likely wouldn’t see him again. So come Monday morning I told Barbara my colleague that I was going to jump in on scuba and go see if I could find him and she told me, “this weekend I was here snorkeling and saw a giant octopus on top of one of your shells, I’m not sure he is still alive?” This had me worried and off I went, I didn’t find him but the giant shell I threw in was gone?? This could mean a tourist took it or the crab did find it and was happily on his way, how will I ever know?? Tuesday came along still no sign of him, I was pretty worried as this was the coolest crab I had seen and I thought an octopus had gotten him! So yesterday, Wednesday I jumped in with my camera and did a deep-dive in search of lionfish and again I saw two but they both were super scared and went deep into the reef leaving me without any photos! On my way back I took a different route that would have me exiting the water in an area where the main Sea Aquarium/Lions Dive lagoon is and the only way to get here from our lagoon is over a massive wall of submerged rocks and under a bridge. As I was getting close to my exit in about 15 feet of water I saw the giant Queen conch shell in the distance sitting on top of the sand and as I got closer I saw two large antenna sticking out and knew immediately this was my crab!! I was so happy to see him and quickly picked him up and set him on an old coral head for a quick photo shoot (photo above) and after put him back in the sand where I found him. I then watched as he dug his giant claws deep into the sand in search of food and after a few minutes I said good-bye, I will be going out again in a few minutes and will try to find him for the third time, he’s such a beautiful animal!!
Busy day ahead, have a great day!!
May 25, 16 Comments (0)
Good morning all, we had a busy morning of feeding and watering the birds, walking the dogs, carrying water out to the desert to water our baby agaves and taking out paint and brushes to re-paint my bridge on the Frangipani trail, all this was done before 8:30!! About three years ago Stijn and I built this long bridge for the mountain bikers and hikers on one of my trails and it’s now time to re-paint it so I at least got the paint and brushes carried out there and ready. The dogs are now home asleep and Aimee even gave them all baths, a tired dog is a good dog in our book!
Curacao is once again getting slammed with high winds and crazy heat, still little to no rain has fallen since the first of the year??
In a few minutes I will be jumping into the sea to continue my search for a cooperative lionfish but I’m not holding my breath, I may have to just go do a dive on the North coast were they are easier to find.
I have a solitary French Angelfish for you all today that I found following me around under the pier at Caracasbaai without a care in the World!
Hope you all are doing well, we sure miss hanging out with our US friends!!
May 24, 16 Comments (0)
Good morning friends, I was super busy yesterday diving with the sub and had no time to post the blog so I’m getting it done now. I did end up doing the 63k East to West race this weekend and it was awesome!! This is about a 40 mile race from one end of our island to the other and I did it in a little over 2 hours, is that crazy or what?? I managed to hold 6th position for around 35 miles and then got passed by riders who went the wrong way and didn’t do the trails they were supposed to, so I ended up finishing around 10th overall, not bad for an old guy!! Below is a link my buddy Hans sent me of the course we did and the times, I never in a million years would have guessed I could have done this in the time I did, I’m still shocked! The course was mostly rough two-track jeep roads that span alongside our whole north coast, the scenery was beautiful!
Also, I’m sure most of you have seen this but if not take 4 minutes out of your busy life and turn up the volume, this clip has been seen over 101 million times in the past few days, I laughed so hard I cried, it’s fantastic!!
Have a great day out there….
May 20, 16 Comments (0)
Hi all, I’m diving like crazy these days and still haven’t found the lionfish I’m looking for if you can believe that, for some reason they are getting hard to find around here?? But I did find something amazing yesterday and it’s something I have never seen here before?? As I was heading out to photograph the sub I found the largest hermit crab I have ever seen in these waters. The old Queen conch shell alone that he is carrying around measures at least 10 inches across!! The crab itself is completely unafraid of anything as you can see above, I was in his or her face and he could have cared less and just kept posing for me. I also observed the crab in motion, he walks in a sideways pattern and get this, he or she can cover about a meter (3 feet) in less than 5 seconds, that’s one fast crab!! I sent this photo to my friend Darryl so we should know soon what his name is….
OK, I just heard back from Darryl L. Felder, PhD who is the professor of Biology at the University of Louisiana, he said we are looking at a Petrochirus Diogenes, one of the largest hermet crabs in the Caribbean. He said it can grow to twice this size and is usually found further offshore but occasionally will find it’s way to shallow waters. Thanks a million Darryl!!
Hope you all have a wonderful weekend, I’m thinking about doing a 70k race, wish me luck!!
May 18, 16 Comments (0)
Good afternoon, I just got out of some really rough seas making the entry and exit a bit sketchy, I’m sure my mother would not approve! I again went in search of Lionfish but unbelievably only found two, they must either be hiding or are finally fished out from this area?? I’m still in need of a nice front view shot of a lionfish above the reef with just water and no coral in the background, I thought it would be the easiest shot in the world to get but boy was I ever wrong!! While searching the reef for the lionfish I came across these two beautiful Scrawled Filefish (top photo) and what I believe is a male and a female. Usually these fish quietly swim away if I get to close but today they were either so into each other or so intent on something to eat that they paid very little attention to me and just did their thing. Not sure you can see the insane patterns these fish have because of the small photos but trust me it’s amazing! These fish have the ability to change colors in the blink of an eye and have a long spine on top of their heads that can be raised or lowered depending on how they are feeling.
Hope all is well out there….
May 17, 16 Comments (0)
Good morning all, I stayed home yesterday due to a sore back caused from Sundays crazy hard 45k mountain bike race. I finished the race in under 2 hours and placed fifth in Masters, 14th overall, not bad for an old goat. The minute I crossed the finish line and went to my car my back went into some kind of weird spassam and made it almost impossible to stand up, talk about painful!!! The race itself was almost entirely into the wind and unlike some of the others who drafted each other to finish I was out there on my own. Next week there is a race from the east end of the island to the the west end, that’s around 45 miles, not sure I’m up for that although the wind would be at our backs for once.
I have a beautiful split-level shot of a sunken tugboat from a dive-site called SABA which can only be accessed by boat. Saba is located between Sea Aquarium and Zanzibar beach meaning if you want to do it as a shore dive you would have to carry your tank and dive gear about a mile from either direction or get a wheel barrow and start pushing. For this photo I carried just my camera, mask, and fins and jumped in at the little beach in front of the salt ponds, it was way easier then carrying a tank. I have done this as a boat dive and it’s one of the only places I have ever seen batfish and we not only saw one but found two of them together, talk about a rare sighting!!!
Hope you all are doing well out there!!!
May 13, 16 Comments (0)
Good morning from Curacao. We have a new resident that moved into our little sub basin last week and each time I have jumped in I have found him. This is a small Flying Gurnard, one of the most bizarre and interesting fish I have ever seen!
The flying gurnard has a magnificent presence and composure compared to other salt water fish, in fact there is no other fish that looks quite like the gurnard. These fish can be found all along the waters of Japan, Polynesia, and even finding its way in the shallow seas of Hawaii. Learn all about this Dactylopteridae family of fish from where they sleep to what they eat.
Sure they may be called flying, but they actually are very slow and “walk” along the bottoms of the ocean floor with their very wide and long fins that look like a wing span. These fins usually have a neon blue ridge, and are covered in dark spots along with their body. These spots gleam off the sunlight giving them a dazzling look as they search for their food along the sands. Their large fins can make their body look quite small, especially their tiny head with two alert eyes poking out. Their scales are somewhat heavy, which is one of the reasons why this fish is so slow. These weighty scales are used as protection since they are exceptionally thick.
Living on the bottom of the ocean, these fish make their resting spot along a seabed and come out during the day to find food to feed upon. They never leave their area and are always found on the sea floor, as their bodies are much to heavy to swim upwards. They can make for a great salt water aquarium fish as they can keep to themselves and not bully any other fish (make sure to read on which fish they do not prey on) that might get in their way.
The diet of a flying gurnard may be surprising to some, since they seem like a docile fish that would only eat algae and coral, but they are the complete opposite. They eat many fish smaller than themselves and have a fondness for shrimp and even crabs. They are scavengers, so if they are living in a tank, a full small crab, shell included is something they would pick clean. Being carnivorous, they will only eat meat and if they can’t find enough in the wild, they will slowly migrate to the next ocean floor.
Flying gurnards are a distinctive species of fish with a one of a kind look. They are beautiful to look at and they pose no big threat to fish larger than themselves. Thanks to second-opinion-doc.com for that wonderful information.
I did three dives again yesterday and I am getting ready for one more right now. This weekend I have a hard 45k race on Sunday so wish me luck!
Have a great day…
May 11, 16 Comments Off on Sponge Faces, Faces in Nature, Abstract Face
Hi gang, I’ve been underwater most of the day trying to find a cooperative lionfish and so far I have had zero luck. On my first dive I was down at 90 feet where I had seen one yesterday and out of the blue my camera started leaking from an old O-ring forcing me to get out very quickly! On the second dive I found five lionfish but couldn’t get one of them to look into the camera for the shot I needed so I settled on a sponge with a face as my photo of the day. This is the second time I have found this species of sponge with a face and believe it or not they are hard to find. On my third dive I again got down to 100 feet to start the lionfish hunting and again had two new problems with the camera. The first problem was the strobes were not firing and second I had a new leak and my leak detector was going crazy! Most folks including the magazines I sell to have no idea the effort and frustrations involved with underwater photography, some times like today I get out of the water and want to cry! I did end up with some nice profile lionfish shots but what I wanted was a head on shot, I’ll get it but it may take some time…
We have overcast skies keeping the temperatures down but still no rain??
Have a wonderful day!
May 10, 16 Comments Off on Longlure Frogfish, Fish that Look like Sponges
Good afternoon gang, I had a submersible dive first thing this morning meaning, we had paid guests onboard and I met them underwater for a photo shoot which is included in the $650 ticket price. Tomorrow I’m in search of lionfish to photograph and like always when you want one you can’t find one, even earlier today when I was underwater I only saw two.
So above I have a very hidden, pink Longlure Frogfish that I found on the back of the tugboat at Caracasbaai, can you spot her?? The reason I say her is because most of the larger frogfish are females and the males are much smaller. Typically if you find one frogfish there is a good chance another is close by but good luck trying to find it, they are true masters of disguise!
Sorry so short, a lot going on today!!
See you soon.
May 9, 16 Comments Off on Adult Queen Angelfish, Holocanthus ciliaris
Good morning from the Caribbean, I trust all the moms out there had a wonderful Mother’s Day??? I tried calling mine but was unable to get a line out, this happens quite often when so many are trying to the same thing from such a tiny island. We went to a major Mothers day party last night over at Stijn’s grandparents house. She made multiple white asparagus dishes, steaks, soups, potato yumminess and on and on, we went to bed fat and happy!
I have one of the hands down most colorful fish we have in Curacao for you all today called a Queen Angelfish or Holocanthus ciliaris for you fish people out there. This beauty here was easily over a foot and a half in length and barely slowed down for me to take a photo. I shot this at the Superior Producer (ship wreck) at around 100 foot and if I remember correctly I was only able to get a few shots due to these fish being afraid of their own shadows! As juveniles these fish are what we call “little reef gems” and are a major joy to find. I think in the years we have been here I have only found about a dozen of these little things and most times never had the right lens.
Have a great week out there….
May 6, 16 Comments Off on Tiger Grouper, Large, Bonaire Reef Fish
Hi all, it’s Friday!!! As a friendly reminder Mothers Day is this Sunday, so do whatever it takes to make yours feel super special!
Yesterday was yet another Curacao holiday, that’s two for this week alone making this week fly by!
I have a Tiger Grouper for you all today that I found on one of my many dives in beautiful Bonaire. These poor fish have been more or less wiped out from Curaçao either by fisherman or spearfishing, I think I have only seen 5 in the 12 years I have been diving here. Unlike Bonaire, Curacao has no fishing regulations what so ever and if they do they can not be enforced. Seeing these fish is one of the top reasons we love to go to Bonaire, you can find these at just about any dive site on the island.
I’m now 100% committed to building my new mountain bike trail which I did work on yesterday for around two hours. I think I told you a few days ago I ran into a monster sized bee-hive in my path and yesterday spent the morning re-routing the whole trail just to avoid the nest and I surrounded it with cut brush to keep curious dogs out as well.
Have a great day all!!
May 4, 16 Comments Off on Sint Willibrordus Roman Catholic Church, Curacao
Good morning from the driest place in the Caribbean. This is our second week of overcast skies with zero rain, it’s honestly one of the most discouraging things we have encountered here.
I have a new Willibrordus church photo for you all today that we stopped at and photographed this weekend on our fun one day tour of the island. In the 12 years we have been here I think this has been repainted 2 or 3 times and each time the paint seems to get a little brighter, maybe so folks can see it from the moon?? Sint Willibrordus Roman Catholic church was built between 1884 and 1888 in the Neo-Gothic architectural style common for churches built in that period. The design being an input of architect E.K.Margrij, it was constructed by the builder-priest V.Jansen. It was common for priests to be engaged in building activities in those days. The church was the second to be built on the site. The first one was erected in 1849 by the community. Under the inspiring leadership of Monsignor Niewindt, bishop and missionary, who worked from 1824 until 1860 on the island, small parishes were set up throughout the island with a small school and a church. These structures quite often were not more than shelters. Sint Willibrord village was among the first parishes to be founded by the Roman Catholic mission. The church was renovated with the support of the Curaçao Monuments Foundation in 1999.
Got in a nice little bike ride last night, it was mega windy and super dry but was still fun to be out there.
Have a great day.
May 3, 16 Comments Off on Boca Tabla Curacao, Boca Pistol, Shete Boka
Good morning friends, sorry for the lack of attention to the posts lately but your’s truly has been very busy. On Friday we ended having three submersible runs meaning I was also in the water for three dives, I was worn out come 5:00. On Saturday I first went to work on my new mountain bike trail for awhile but that came to an abrupt stop due to an enormous bee-hive right in the middle of the path, not sure how I will deal with that yet?? Then I rushed to meet two friends that were only here for a day and took them on an all day tour of the island starting at Boca Tabla and ending up at Porto Mari for an afternoon of snorkeling and fun in the sun. On Sunday, I first did a 25 mile mountain bike ride consisting of three complete loops around the salt pond, talk about tiring! After that I again rushed home and drove all the way out to one of the remote beaches at San Juan for Stijn’s 19th birthday party. His mom rented a private beach for him and the whole family, I took out dive gear and took him for a fun underwater adventure while lunch was cooking on the grill. I had some of the most amazing chicken that was sautéed in peanut butter, smoked barbecue sauce and soy sauce, it was amazing… I think we got home at around 6:30 and I was in bed by 7:00, that was the end of three very long but fun days!
Shete Boka National Park was definately one of the highlights of our trip. It is a series of 4 main inlets on the rocky north side of the island where powerful waves crash against the shore. There are hiking trails connecting each of the Bokas, but they are also accessible by car. Boka Tabla is located near the park entrance and has a sea cave where you can see waves rolling in. Be careful the steps are slippery. Our favorite sight was Boka Pistol (above). Its name comes from the sound the waves make when they crash into the rocks spraying water everywhere. The photos above show the sequence of how a wave rolls in, hits this unique rock and shoot water high in the air, it like Old Faithful except created from waves. This park is a must see. Admission is around $5 per person or 10naf.
I have to get ready to get underwater.
Have a wonderful day…
Apr 29, 16 Comments Off on Camouflaged Fish/Filefish, Monacanthus ciliatus
Hi all, I have a super camouflaged, very hidden, Fringed Filefish for you all today that we found hiding on the side of a giant pillar that was holding up a monster sized pier. Many have asked, “how did you even spot that” I tell them I was looking for something different and then something moved and with a closer look there it was! These little two inch fish are masters of camouflage and have the ability to change colors in a split second mimicking almost any underwater background color, it’s one of those things I just can’t explain you have to see it to believe it.
Appearing very much like their close relatives the triggerfish, filefish are rhomboid-shaped fish that have beautifully elaborate cryptic patterns. Deeply keeled bodies give a false impression of size when these fish are viewed facing the flanks. Filefish have soft, simple fins with comparatively small pectoral fins and truncated, fan-shaped tail fins; a slender, retractable spine crowns the head. Although there are usually two of these spines, the second spine is greatly reduced, being used only to lock the first spine in the erect position; this explains the family name Monacanthidae, from the Greek monos meaning “one” and akantha meaning “thorn”. Some species also have recurved spines on the base of the tail (caudal peduncle). The small terminal mouths of filefish have specialized incisor teeth on the upper and lower jaw; in the upper jaw there are four teeth in the inner series and six in the outer series; in the lower jaw, there are 4-6 in an outer series only. The snout is tapered and projecting; eyes are located high on the head. Although scaled, some filefish have such small scales as to appear scaleless. Like the triggerfish, filefish have small gill openings and greatly elongated pelvic bones creating a “dewlap” of skin running between the bone’s sharply keeled termination and the belly. The pelvis is articulated with other bones of the “pelvic girdle” and is capable of moving upwards and downwards in many species to form a large dewlap (this is used to make the fish appear much deeper in the body than is actually the case). Some filefish erect the dorsal spine and pelvis simultaneously to make it more difficult for a predator to remove the fish from a cave.
I have a bunch of sub-dives today, I will be in and out of the water all day…
Apr 28, 16 Comments Off on Eurasian Collared Dove, Streptopelia decaocto
Good morning friends, yesterday was a major holiday called “King’s Day” and most of the island was off and everything was closed.
For months now we have had this strange white dove living at our house and seems to have no fear of humans at all. When I toss seed on the ground for the other birds he or she is the first to arrive and most times landing at my feet, we originally thought it was someone’s pet bird because it was tame. Well I finally did some research this morning and found out it yet another invasive species that should not be here??? So to date we have found lionfish, frogs, corals, snails and now birds that are considered invasive species right here in Curacao, I have to ask what’s next???
The Eurasian collared dove (Streptopelia decaocto), most often simply called the collared dove, also sometimes hyphenated as Eurasian collared-dove, is a species of dove native to warm temperate and subtropical Asia, and introduced in North America in 1980s.
The collared dove was introduced into the Bahamas in the 1970s and spread from there to Florida by 1982. It has become invasive; the stronghold in North America is still the Gulf Coast, but it is now found as far south as Puerto Escondido and Tehuantepec in Oaxaca, as far west as California, and as far north as Alaska, Alberta, the Great Lakes, and Nova Scotia. Their relatively early presence in the Cancún area may suggest they arrived there overwater. Some of the more distantly dispersed records may refer to local escapes from captivity. Its impact on other species there is as yet unknown; it appears to occupy an ecological niche between that of the mourning dove and the rock pigeon (also an invasive species in North America). In Arkansas (United States), the species was recorded first in 1989 and since then has grown in numbers and is now present in 42 of 75 counties in the state. It spread from the southeast corner of the state in 1997 to the northwest corner in 5 years, covering a distance of about 500 km (310 mi) at a rate of 100 km (62 mi) per year. This is more than double the rate of 45 km (28 mi) per year observed in Europe.
The collared dove is not wary and often feeds very close to human habitation, including visiting bird tables; the largest populations are typically found around farms where spilt grain is frequent around grain stores or where livestock are fed. It is a gregarious species and sizeable winter flocks will form where there are food supplies such as grain (its main food) as well as seeds, shoots and insects. Flocks most commonly number between ten and fifty, but flocks of up to ten thousand have been recorded.
The song is a coo-COO-coo, repeated many times. It is phonetically similar to the Greek decaocto (“eighteen”), to which the bird owes its zoological name. It also makes a harsh loud screeching call lasting about two seconds, particularly in flight just before landing. A rough way to describe the screeching sound is a hah-hah.
I started building a new trail this weekend because it is so dry. The new section will be an add-on to the very popular calabash trail, stay tuned.
I have to be underwater in 5 minutes, I have to go!!
See you again soon…