Avid outdoorsman and underwater photographer, Barry Brown has spent the last 12 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.
Archive for April, 2009
Apr 30, 09 Comments Off on Curacao Island Dog
Hello, howdy and how do you do?? Never used that one before! Today I did something new, I rode my bike to Canoa from my house (that’s around 12 miles) then past the windmills, on the Saint Joris and back home. It took me two hours, I think it was close to 25 miles but it was a perfect morning for riding, overcast and no traffic. I have wanted to try this loop for so many years and finally just did it and other than the head wind it was fun! After cleaning the bike and myself I ran to the store, I found out it was open till noon and stocked up on a few more little things. At 12:00 sharp I loaded the dogs and off we went to Saint Joris for a three hour hike! The weather was still overcast and kind of cool so I said what the heck let’s go! I again carried my tripod and macro lens looking for small little things I thought you might enjoy for your daily picture. While standing in a few inches of water I shot a hermit crab in a fossil sea shell laying on some sedum along the edge of the cliff. I had to wait awhile for the hermit crab to come out of his shell, Inca stood next to me and Indi just ran around like a crazy dog! Well after a little time had passed I thought to myself, where is Indi, I haven’t seen or heard from her in the last five minutes or so and got a bit worried that she was off eating something smelly and dead! I was still facing the cliff with my camera on the tripod, she wasn’t in front of me, she wasn’t to the left and she wasn’t to the right, now I was worried! I called and called and finally looked at Inca who was staring at something behind me in the ocean? I quickly turned around to see Indi “the mountain goat” had somehow swam out and climbed up on this little rock island and claimed it as her own! I had to laugh it was too funny, I said what are you doing over there and after snapping a picture called her back to shore, this is why we named her Indi short for independent! The rest of our hike was super fun, I found lots of cool beach treasures and the dogs chewed on just about every flip-flop and buoy they found, another great trip to the bay!
We just had a wonderful dinner and I am ready for bed, my legs feel like Jell-O! Hope all is well, drop us a line we would love to hear from you! See you tomorrow, Barry
Apr 29, 09 Comments Off on Curacao Coast Guard
Good evening friends how is everyone doing? I went to work so tired this morning and had planned on riding after but just felt to drained to anything. Work was crazy busy being that tomorrow is one of the biggest celebrated days of the year in the Netherlands, it’s Queens Day! Aimee was off today and had to go do errands and she said it was a mess!! She said traffic was backed up at every light and the stores were full as they will all be closed now for two full days! Yes it happens quite a bit here, every holiday they close up the whole town including the grocery stores so if you want to make it thru until they re-open you need to stock up!
Your photo was taken Monday morning aboard one of the many built for speed Coast Guard/Navy boats that they use daily to patrol our shores! Being so close to South America drugs are the number one priority for the Navy and Coast Guard, their mission is to try and keep as much of it as they can from ever reaching our shores! Sounds like an impossible job doesn’t it, but I think they do pretty well. This boat I was on had two mega motors in the back and are some of the fastest boats of their kind on water, gotta catch those bad guys! Up ahead you see the largest bridge in Curacao and two big Navy ships at dock. The ship in the back was an American Destroyer and the one up front is the famous Van Amstel, remember I sent you those pictures when it came into Curacao for the first time?? This boat ride was great, they drove us all around the bay then under the big bridge past the Navy ships, in front of the colorful buildings in Punda and ending in Outrabanda what more could a photographer ask for?? I was able to get this shot because we were going so slow as we had VIP’s on board “not me of course” but they let me walk up front and snap away, usually when aboard you are strapped in and have to hold on for dear life.
Aimee just took off with Eveline to dog class, I am getting my bike gear ready for a long ride in the morning before it gets to hot and then take the dogs to the ocean a bit later. I’m out, bye now, Barry
Apr 28, 09 Comments Off on Habitat Dive Boat
Good evening one and all, I am beat! I spent the morning working on the computer and the afternoon and evening with my new friend Hans. My day started out with being picked up in a fully restored flaming hot orange 70’s El-Camino! This car was on fire! The whole thing including the motor has been re-done, just to hear this thing rev it’s 350hp motor sends chills down ones spine! We drove to Punda, turning every head we passed and met with a group of eutopenoures at the Curacao Chamber of Commerce where Hans listened and did a bit a speaking of his own. Yes it was all in Dutch of course but surprisingly I understood some of it. It seemed to be a wonderful group of people each telling about their own business’s and concerned about the very important up-coming Yes or No election. I pretty much just stood the whole time walking around the big conference table taking pictures until I finally said to myself “I think you have it well covered” there are only so many angles one can shoot such an event. We then drove around Punda a bit giving Hans the grand tour and finding him a place to buy a postcard to send to his family. The rest of the afternoon we were chauffeured around by two very lovely ladies who gave Hans and I a very close look at Curacao taking us to places I didn’t even know existed? On this “back streets” tour I found so many pictures that I want to go back and take, it was a real eye opener! Our final destination today was going to Coral Estates and driving down to the big Hotel Habitat. Many of you reading this have stayed here on your visit to Curacao so this dive boats for you! It was late in the evening and they were tying the boat up for the night to a floating anchor. Once the boat was secured the guys you see dove into the water and swam back to shore leaving the boat there for the night.
It’s 8:30 Aimee and I are going to meet Hans van Baalen to give him all the photos I just took as he leaves early in the morning. So my friends, I will see you tomorrow, Barry
Apr 28, 09 Comments Off on Curacao Mud Crab
Good afternoon all, just taking a break from my busy afternoon of taking photos of Hans van Baalen. We started the day with a trip to the Curacao Naval Base. This was my first time inside and may I just say it was great! I got to see all the cool ships the Dutch Navy has including the fast little patrol boats that we see daily speeding by out in front of the Aquarium. I followed Hans around all over as he went from place to place including getting to meet and talk to some of the troops. Later we climbed aboard one of those cool little patrol boats and got a nice tour of the bay, went under the big bridge, passed by the colorful buildings of Punda and then got dropped off in Otrabanda, again it was great! We then went to the Avila Hotel where he met with the local Rotary Club. I only stayed long enough to get a nice group photo and then raced home to download photos and do a little work on them as they had to be sent to a local paper in Holland ASAP!
So that’s about it, I am being picked up again in a few minutes to go back to the Avila for another photo shoot and will be there the rest of the evening.
Your photo is of a beautiful crab I found the other morning at Saint Joris. He was really defensive and quite aggressive so I kept my distance and just watched as he crawled around in the mud, I looked for a name but so far haven’t found one.
Till tomorrow, Barry
Apr 26, 09 Comments Off on Sunburned Cactus
Good evening all, this is one of the strange but beautiful patterns I found on this mornings walk at Saint Joris. This is a close-up of a prickly pear cactus with some kind of “skin disease” or maybe just sunburned? Anyways I thought it would make a cool abstract kind of photo, it’s like they say, “there’s beauty in everything” you just have to stop and look!
After our long relaxing walk this morning I spent 30 minutes washing the dogs always the down side to taking them to the beach but it sure is worth it. I spent the remainder of my day working on the computer and going thru old pictures, talk about a trip down memory lane, it’s unbelievable how many photos I have taken here in the last five years!!
Not much else for you all this evening, I have the grill a blazing with 15 skewers of chicken, it smells wonderful!! Have so much to do tonight talk to you soon, Barry
Apr 26, 09 Comments Off on Brown Throated Parakeet
A late good morning to you all, our dumb internet was down again?? I just got home from a three and a half hour adventure with the dogs at Saint Joris. I carried my macro lens and tripod on the walk today and found some really cool stuff to send to you this week. Tomorrow and Tuesday I will be photographing a Dutch Politician who’s name is Hans van Baalen from sun up to sun down. I have been hired to photograph him everywhere he goes including onto a Navy ship and I think even the prison, should be a great adventure so if you don’t hear from me in the next few days this is where I am at.
The parakeets have really settled into our yard now and are here almost all day long, in fact I can hear them squawking outside the window even now. These birds not only blend in with just about everything they also seem to eat just about everything!
Sorry so short, the day is half over and I really have a ton to do!! Till tomorrow, Barry
Apr 25, 09 Comments Off on Curacao Sea Urchin
Good morning from little o’l Curacao! Too busy last night to get this out and have to hurry this morning as well as work is a calling! I found this super cool sea urchin last night as I was leaving the Sea Aquarium. At first glance I thought it was just a dead crab laying on the rocks but with a closer look found out it was a molted crab shell being used for camouflage! What a great disguise! The crabs around here lose their shells or molt as it’s called quite regularly and we see their old shells floating everywhere but have never seen one used as sea urchin clothing before? His buddies must be so jealous! If you look to the top left corner of the photo you can see another urchin laying just under the water line with piles of sea weed and kelp attached to his shell not nearly as attractive and clever as a dead crab shell! These urchins pretty much just stick to one area most of the day and slowly move around eating whatever is attached to the rock, like slime. They have to be careful because if they release their grip on the rock to much a wave could hit them and turn them upside down leaving their bellies exposed to predators.
I have to run, have a wonderful weekend, talk to you again this evening. Sunny regards, Barry
Apr 23, 09 Comments Off on Diver Above Purple Stove Pipe Sponges
Good evening all, Aimee and I are finally winding down after a fast paced day of running around. This morning we drove to Directors Bay and did an hour walk with the dogs. They both kept themselves busy looking for anything nasty to eat while Aimee and I hunted for seashells. We had a great shell finding morning but seconds after finding them we quickly realized that every single one had a little hermit crab inside so back they went right where we found them. There was one spot in particular that Aimee found that was just covered in little crabs and each one had a different shell it was really pretty cool.
We kind of raced home after that Aimee had to be at a meeting at work and I had cameras to get ready for the dive today. We took off to Blue Bay at around noon under a blazing hot sun and very gusty winds which made our swim out to the wall a bit interesting today. We ended up having to swim on our backs for 10 to 15 minutes in rough seas until we were over the dive site the whole time being followed by a large barracuda! I don’t trust them at all! The visibility wasn’t bad but nothing like it was last week. Aimee spotted a little turtle but he was at the surface resting and getting some air, she also spotted two big porcupinefish chasing each other, I am guessing it was a male looking for love? We had a fun dive and accomplished what we went for. I needed some nice purple stove pipe sponges with a diver and this place has some great specimens!! We kind of just swam from cluster to cluster each one seemed to be better than the last, I just love these purple beauties! This is really a great dive spot, fish everywhere! After a long dive Aimee and I both got out cold, it’s the one time when a hot Curacao sun feels great!
That’s about for our fun day, we just had some yummy Chinese food from the snack down the street and are now ready for bed, Inca lead the way! Till tomorrow, Barry
Apr 22, 09 Comments Off on Second Juvenile Cowfish
Hey there friends, I had a request this evening from our friend Eveline who wanted to see the other juvenile cowfish that Aimee found a few weeks back. If you remember Eveline was with Aimee the morning they stumbled onto these rare tiny fish swimming around in a little tidal pool during low tide on the north side of the island. The morning they found these Aimee only saw the yellow one that I already sent you and it wasn’t until I got in the water with the camera hours later that we discovered there were two! This is the larger one, he was more of an orange color and had little pieces of sand on his nose, such a cute little creature! Looking at him now it’s hard to believe he was smaller than a dime but seemed to get around just fine. Aimee and I have been wondering how they survive on the rough north coast?? When the tide comes back in where I found them, it’s a very rough little beach, it just surprises me that this is where they call home?? Again I am sorry about the copyright logo across every photo but it is extremely necessary in order to protect these images as they surf the web from unauthorized use. And again every photo I have ever sent is for sale, just go to www.wildhorizons.com and tell us what your wanting we will hook you up!
We had a pretty busy day at work with the Adventure of the Sea’s cruise ship, Wednesdays go by so fast!
Aimee and I are headed back to Blue Bay tomorrow for a photo dive, if your interested in joining just give me a ring (661-5795) after 7:00 in the morning and I will tell you the plan, see ya, Barry
Apr 21, 09 Comments Off on Split Level Mother Dolphin and Baby
Good evening my loyal followers how is life in your part of the world?? And please feel to respond to that question! My day was nothing but a blur, where oh where did it go?? For some crazy reason Aimee and I both got up at 5:30 this morning?? You know how it is, once your up, your up!! I had a doctors appointment at 8:00, that lasted an hour and a half it takes forever here to get in to see your doctor. I started the ball rolling today with getting my other eye operated on, it’s quickly clouding with a cataract. Some of you remember I had my left eye done about two years ago and now after months of procrastinating I am biting the bullet and getting the other one done. Also this time under anesthesia because I am not going thru that “being awake and having a needle stuck in my eye pain again”
At 10:00 I jumped on the bike and took off for an hour and a half ride in what seemed like hurricane force winds! What normally takes me 25 minutes took me 40 today, it was very difficult! I figured if I didn’t get out now even though it was hot and windy I wouldn’t have time later. After arriving home I quickly changed, grabbed the dogs and took them to what we call the “dog beach” for a fun afternoon of chasing each other thru the sand and water.
Your photo this evening is of Bonnie (front) and Chabelita swimming under the beautiful Curacao sun! I never realized just how hard it was to take these split level pictures! Trying to focus on the dolphins while having your head underwater holding your breath then trying to keep some sky in the photo with current and waves is not an easy task and proved to be a big challenge!!
I spent the rest of my day doing the weekly “honey do list”. Have to run it’s dinner time!! Barry
Apr 20, 09 Comments Off on Snorkling with a Mother Dolphin and her Baby
Hello one and all. This is Aimee tonight because Barry is sending out probably my most favorite photo of all time. This is of me, Tela and her new baby Pasku. This was actually taken a couple of months ago, so little Pasku has grown quite a bit. Of course everyone who knows me knows how special Tela is to me, and now this little one just built his own place in my heart. I was able to go over and do a snorkel with Barry and Jr. (one of the trainers) one day and it was the best time ever! Tela and I have spent hours together in the water, so she quickly calmed down and we had wonderful love time together. She just let me swim next to her and the baby, it was so unbelievable. It is times like this that I really feel like this is exactly where I should be and what I should be doing. Luckily Barry was right there to catch the moment. Another nice thing about this shot is that for my birthday my team all pitched in and had this photo printed on a large piece of canvas for us to frame and hang on the wall. So, it is extra special.
The weather is definitely getting hotter, and the water warmer. It is nice when your “uniform” is a wetsuit. The dogs are doing great, and Indi although the busiest dog ever is learning a lot (Barry says a lot of bad things), I have both dogs in fun classes during the week. Indi learns quickly and is very food and toy motivated so that makes my job easier. And for those of you wondering the cat is fine also, she just mostly eats and sun bathes. Hope everyone is doing well. Thanks to those of you who keep in touch. It is so nice to hear from you. All the best. Aimee
Apr 19, 09 Comments Off on Black and White Crinoid
Hello from Curacao! Did you all have a nice weekend?? My day started out with overcast skies turning to rain while out cleaning the trails with the dogs. We ended up having to seek shelter on the World Cup course under a big rock and just sit there and wait! Once it slowed down a bit we continued back on the Inca trail. Near the end while sweeping and grooming the trail we ran into dozens of police officers walking in from every direction?? I said to myself, ok, what is this about? They said we are looking for a lost man in his thirties who disappeared in this area a few days ago, have you seen anything?? Then they asked, why are you sweeping a trail?? So I had to explain the whole “if you build it you have to maintain it thing” I think they thought I was just some crazy white boy who had been in the sun to long? They then asked, are there other trails out here and do you know where they are?? I kind of just laughed and said no one knows these trails better than I do because I built them all!! Well upon hearing that the Captain called everyone over and had me not only draw a very detailed map for the searchers he also asked if I would mind leading the way and showing the main group where the caves are that I knew of? So off we went, Special Agent Brown and his two hound-dogs were now part of the team! I have never seen so many people out there as I did this morning, helicopters overhead, boats along the shore and us walking thru the desert. I led the groups all over pointing to all kinds of hidden areas with caves that I am sure only I have ever found. After an hour I left them to their hunting and took off, not sure what the outcome of today’s search was but we pitched in the best we could.
I then spent the rest of the morning preparing the underwater camera and getting my gear ready for a dive at Blue Bay with my friend Marco. We met there at 2:30, signed in, got our tanks and off we went swimming on our backs towards the big underwater wall which is towards the west. Usually when I have done this dive in the past (every year) we started at the beach and swam to the wall, then we have to turn back because we have used up half our air not getting to stay at the wall very long. So this time we swam on the surface to the wall and then started the dive, way more fun! The water today was so clear you could see 100 feet in any direction, it was beautiful! I dropped down the face of the underwater mountain (or wall) to 80 feet and hung out there for awhile before ascending to 60 feet the whole time watching Marco shoot video of creatures above me. What amazed me most today was the three golden crinoids I found, they are the same ones in the same home’s from five years ago when I first came here. These crinoids as you see here have the ability to move around but this one and the other two have said “why move when you have such a great location” and as you all know location is everything! Our dive today was nothing short of wonderful, Marco filmed scorpionfish, sharp-tailed eels, giant snappers and a Queen angelfish just to name a few and I took picture after picture each one better than the last. This location is by far the best spot in Curacao for purple and green stove pipe sponges, they are everywhere! I told Aimee that we are going back here this Thursday to get some photos of her with these sponges, it’s going be great! We had a long dive and I hated to get out but both of us were starting to get real cold! Thanks again Blue Bay!
I hope you all have a wonderful Monday, talk to you tomorrow, Sunny regards, Barry
Apr 18, 09 Comments Off on Caribbean or Brown Throated Parakeet
Hey guys, just a quick note as I have so much to still do tonight. I am going diving with my buddy Marco tomorrow at 2:30 at Blue Baai if any of you are interested? Your better off buying a tank from them for 13naf because if you don’t you have to pay 15naf to get in and another 5naf to use the beach, just tell the guards your diving and renting equipment from their dive shop. Oh and for those of you wondering what naf is, that’s our local money in guilders, 5 naf is around $2.30us. Marco and I are planning on swimming on our backs to the big underwater wall and starting the dive there, I can hardly wait.
Ok finally as promised, here is one of our beautiful squawking Brown Throated Parakeet’s. They are also called a Caribbean Parakeet or as the locals here call them, Prikichi and the Dutch call them a West-Indischi Parkiet, cool huh? They have been in our yard everyday eating these seed pods from the peacock flowers, they just plain love them. If you have never had the chance to watch a parrot or a parakeet eat it’s really incredible how well they can use their feet! I mean look at this guy, balancing on one leg while holding his seed pod with the other in a strong wind, that’s talent folks you don’t just learn this overnight! I really hope they continue to visit our yard, I may build a little blind tomorrow to hide under so I can get real close.
I need to get my camera ready for the dive tomorrow, I still have to clean it from the dolphin swim I did today, got some cool split level shots!
Bye my friends, see you tomorrow, Barry
Apr 17, 09 Comments Off on Barrel Cactus
Good evening, I just got home and found the parakeets once again squawking away and eating seed pods in our back yard! This just cracks me up, I have been trying to sneak up on these birds for years without much luck and now they are sitting in our yard taunting me! They are not as afraid as the ones I have seen out along the coast but still have their limits on how close you can get.
During the last weeks of the rainy season the barrel cactus here were really saturated with colors! For some reason all that moisture made the spines redder and in the morning or evening light they just seemed to glow. This was taken looking straight down on the cactus with a tripod using a long exposure. This is one of our most common plants on the island. They seem to grow best in the worst possible spots like along the coast in jagged limestone, and not just one or two here and there, they are everywhere!
It was a fairly quiet day for once at the aquarium, I think today was the end of the long Easter holiday and many of the Dutch tourists headed back home. Need to find some dinner, see ya, Barry
Apr 16, 09 Comments Off on Curacao Tugboat
Hello readers, this morning we woke to the sound of wild parakeets in our back yard! This is a first for us, I know other homes around the neighborhood occasionally have them drop in but we never have. I quickly got the camera and tripod ready and ever so quietly opened the back door, they were right there. Like a ninja I moved ever so carefully one step at a time towards them and was shocked at how close I was getting. I ended up being around 20 feet away and watched as a pair of them ate seed pods and groomed each other it was great! Who would have ever guessed that my best parakeet shots would end up being taking in our own yard? While I was hiding under a palm shooting Aimee took the dogs and her bike to the coast for a two hour adventure giving me time to spend with the birds. And yes I will be sending those to you shortly.
When Aimee came home we took off to Caracas Bay to go snorkeling/diving to the famous Curacao Tugboat. We actually went in search of a scorpionfish as we wanted to make a photo of it and a swimmer in the background but we never saw one, that’s a first. So instead Aimee swam over to the tugboat and I was below her on scuba. The visibility was poor today making this photo even more difficult but we are going to go back and try it again soon. This tugboat is really falling apart and I bet in five more years there won’t even be a top on it, it’s just rusting away! After playing around here Aimee swam back to shore and I went over to the pier to burn up the rest of my air and look for a scorpionfish, someone must have told them I was coming today?
I guess that’s our day in general, I was just out back shooting the parakeets again, they seem to love these bean pods from the peacock flowers. See you tomorrow, Barry