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 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 (0)

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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 (0)

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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 (0)

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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 (0)

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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 (0)

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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

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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

Aug 7, 14     Comments Off

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Hi all, super busy day here at the Sea Aquarium and the Substation, I just got out from my second dive and am rushing to get photos ready before the submersible returns.

So today I have a picture of my buddy/supermodel Mark from the World famous “the Dive Bus” videotaping himself with a GoPro that is attached to the new “3 Way” mount. http://gopro.com/camera-mounts/3-way  This new way of  photographing yourself in a photo/video is called, “shooting a selfie”. Yeah what a weird name right?? Since I don’t do Facebook or any of the other social media sites and I don’t own any kind of a phone with a camera, I don’t do selfies but boy I see everyone else is sure into it! I honestly didn’t even know what the word selfie meant up to about a year ago, that’s how off the grid I am with new hip-hop type urban slang.

A selfie is a self-portrait photograph, typically taken with a hand-held digital camera or camera phone. Selfies are often shared on social networking services such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Tumblr. They are often casual, and are typically taken either with a camera held at arm’s length or in a mirror.

The first known selfie, taken by Robert Cornelius in 1839.

Initially popular with young people, selfies gained wider popularity over time. By the end of 2012, Time magazine considered selfie one of the “top 10 buzzwords” of that year; although selfies had existed long before, it was in 2012 that the term “really hit the big time”. According to a 2013 survey, two-thirds of Australian women age 18–35 take selfies—the most common purpose for which is posting on Facebook. A poll commissioned by smartphone and camera maker Samsung found that selfies make up 30% of the photos taken by people aged 18–24.

By 2013, the word “selfie” had become commonplace enough to be monitored for inclusion in the online version of the Oxford English Dictionary. In November 2013, the word “selfie” was announced as being the “word of the year” by the Oxford English Dictionary, which gave the word itself an Australian origin.

Selfies have also taken beyond the earth. A space selfie is a selfie that is taken in space. This include selfies taken by astronauts, machines and by an indirect method to have self-portrait photograph on earth retaken in space.

In January 2014, during the Sochi Winter Olympics, a “Selfie Olympics” meme was popular on Twitter, where users took self-portraits in unusual situations. The spread of the meme took place with the usage of the hashtags, #selfiegame, and #selfieolympics.

In April 2014, the advertising agency iStrategyLabs produced a two-way mirror capable of automatically posting selfies to Twitter, using facial recognition software.

Lots to do, always busy!!

Barry

Aug 5, 14     Comments Off

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Good morning friends, we are getting ready to take the submersible out to the reef and should be underway at around 11:00. For those of you asking, YES our live underwater camera is broken and I have no idea when we will be back online. A few months ago we had such rough seas that the floating platform smashed the cables that run the unit and we still have not gotten it fixed.

Ever since we have been in Curacao we have been collecting these small fossil corals that are thousands of years old. They range in size from a half inch to an inch and can be easily found on just about any beach in Curacao. These particular ones you see here are mostly baby star corals. What happens is these little beauties adhere to stones (as eggs) in the shallows, grow for a year or so and then get wiped out when a big storm comes through sending the rocks they are on straight to the beach or they get quickly buried under the sea and may not resurface for hundreds or thousands of years. Giant tropical storms or hurricanes have the ability to uncover these little buried corals taking them from under the sea floor to the beach. Then after billions of waves push them up and down onto the beach over a long period of time they become smooth and polished as you see here, they will make great jewelry! 

It is important that people understand “fossil coral” is a natural stone formed from ancient corals, or in this case “extant corals”. It should not be mistaken for protected and endangered coral reef from the modern oceans of today. All of these are now stone with a hardness of about 3.5, much harder than they were when they were alive. Corals have been growing in the oceans around the world for almost 500 million years. “Permineralization” is the process of filling pore space in and around the remnant hard coral skeleton with minerals deposited from solutions trapped or migrating thru the sedimentary pile as it is compressed into rock. “Replacement” is the process whereby the original coral skeleton is replaced molecule by molecule with a mineral or minerals from a solution. For example, calcium carbonate (CaCO3) from the hard structure of the coral is replaced by silica (SiO2) from trapped or migrating solutions as rock was being formed. This dual process preservation can occur with different accessory mineral concentrations and result in maintaining the contrast between the original soft tissues and the skeletal remains of the corals as different minerals impart different colors to the stone.

I have to run, time to play underwater!!

Have a great day…….

Barry

Aug 4, 14     Comments Off

BAR-

Good morning friends, it’s monday morning and back to work!! So let me ask you guys, have you ever been to the grocery store and find out at the checkout you don’t have any money?? Well we had this happen to us friday evening. I don’t know why but we never once checked our card for an expiration date and we never got a new one in the mail? So there we were, full cart of food all bagged up and no money to pay for it!!! What a horrible feeling! I told Aimee, wait here and I will race home (no speed limits in Curacao) and get our Visa card because we have to have the groceries! We live pretty far away from the store and it was going to close in 45 minutes so needless to say, I drove like the wind and made it back just in time. So without our normal bank card I was unable to do anything the whole weekend, I had to run to the bank this morning to get that mess taken of.

I ended up doing a short two and a half hour bike ride yesterday morning and working on the new bird cage the rest of the day, kind of a boring weekend. We are looking for a name for the little parakeet that we rescued, if you think of a fun name please let me know, he’s bright green and very loud!

Here’s a little baby dolphin for your viewing pleasure today. Dolphin babies are always born pretty dark, and remember Papito, (he is now 8 years old), he was practically black. Well, they are born dark and then over about 2-3 weeks become blotchy as they begin to “sluff their skin” and get a lighter color; more the “normal grey” that we are all used to.  You can slightly see the fetal folds on this little one if you look closely. They are the light stripes going from the belly to the back. As the baby is tucked in momma’s tummy they are curled, or folded up; similar if you bend your arm and get a bit of a sunburn, as you open your arm up it looks as if you have a stripe. Well this is what happens to the baby, they are folded up and when they are born, they have these light stripes, called fetal folds. As the baby gets lighter they actually become the same color as those stripes. This little one is right beside the mother’s dorsal fin in the “slip stream”.  This helps direct the baby, keeping it safe from any obstacles as well as it is energy saving. Consider if you are driving a car and drafting a larger truck, it is the same thing, you sort of get pulled right along. It usually takes 3-4 weeks before the calf becomes pretty independent and is swimming farther away from momma on its own, but it quickly gets back into this position at any time for both safety and comfort. The baby will be only nursing for many months, usually for 5-20 seconds a couple times an hour, around the clock.  At around 6 months they usually begin eating a bit of fish here and there, but will keep nursing for several years. When the female is once again pregnant and far along in the pregnancy, she will begin to break away from her calf (now several years old), in preparation for the new one coming. Well, there you have a few fun facts, hope you like it!

 

Lots to do, have a great day!

Barry

Aug 1, 14     Comments Off

BAR-

Good morning friends, it’s friday!!! So what are you all doing this weekend?? I’m taking off on a long mountain bike ride in the morning and then getting to work on my giant parakeet cage which has now turned into a pretty big project!! The injured bird is doing well, we sure wish we could just let him go but with a broken wing that’s going to be difficult. Inca is still not much better, her foot is still swollen and it’s killing me to watch her limp around. We kept pretty busy around Substation Curacao yesterday meaning no time to sit down and write. This morning we have another submersible dive as well planned and I need to be underwater in about 20 minutes so I will have to make this fast.

I have a wild colored photo for you today that looks like a poisonous atmosphere on another planet! This is oil floating on water.

I have to run, have a wonderful weekend.

Barry

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