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 May, 2009
May 31, 09 Comments Off on Local Dog Sitting on a Pier in Curacao
Hello friends how was the weekend?? I usually have today off but they begged me to work today because they were understaffed and it was fully booked. The good news is now I will have Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday off in a row, that sounds great doesn’t it??
This is Indi again sitting at the end of a long pier with Saint Joris bay in the background. This is a pretty big salt water inlet you really don’t realize it till you start walking around it. The ocean is straight ahead behind those hills, that is our north/east coast.
Sorry so short, I am so tired, going to bed early. See you tomorrow, Barry
May 30, 09 Comments Off on Mother Dolphin and her Baby
Good evening guys, this is going to be short as we are headed to a party/fund raising event at Saint Joris tonight. And no the dogs are not going especially with all that gross chicken still lining the shores! This event tonight is being put on by the kite surfers. Their goal is to raise some money for the local kids to help get them interested in other activities, like kite surfing and mountain biking just to name a few. Everyone is welcome, it starts around 6:00 just bring something for the grill and whatever you want to drink, see you there.
This is Tela and her baby Pasku again, “Pasku in the background” swimming over to give me and my camera a closer inspection. Tela could care less about the camera, she’s a Superstar but little Pasku as you can see is keeping his distance.
It was a beautiful day here today and from the looks of it the water was spectacular! It’s funny, we had the Curacao dive festival here all week and the wind was non-stop and the waves were big creating terrible diving here. Now that it’s over things seem to be going back to normal again. I talked to a bunch of divers this week who were a bit disappointed in the diving conditions but hey there’s nothing you can do about the wind?? And it’s true Curacao among other islands got hammered from Omar, everything in the shallows got wiped out which is really bad news for the endangered corals and not so pretty for the incoming divers. We did have a diving celebrity of sorts stop by the Aquarium a few days ago, his name is Wayne Hasson and he’s the President of all the Aggressor Fleets World wide! What’s an Aggressor Fleet you ask? These are the live aboard boats that are parked in the most beautiful dive spots around the globe and cater just to the diver! Check it out, www.aggresssor.com As you can guess this is what I have wanted to do for such a long time, go to some of these other exotic destinations and do nothing but dive and take photos, so maybe if I am lucky I will meet Wayne again one of these days. Also he has another program called Oceans for Youth, check this one out as well at www.oceansforyouth.org what a great organization!
Talk to you all tomorrow, Barry
May 29, 09 Comments Off on Glowing Red Barrel Cactus in Curacao
Good evening all, I just realized we have our dolphin fans, our bird lovers, and of course the underwater fanatics and now I have a big group of folks that just seem to love these cactus, so here’s another. Aimee found this one a few weeks ago, it is by far the most colorful one we have ever seen!! The night we found this we must have already looked at well over 500 cactus! When I heard Aimee yell for me to come over and check this one out I knew she had found a winner but never dreamed they can get this red! You know I have hiked all over the western States and never remember seeing barrel cacti with such red spines, but maybe I just wasn’t looking back then? You can see our grass is all drying up here now as well as the rest of the vegetation, summer is on the way. I still have a flower and fruit photo to show you as well from these, that will be on it’s way to you soon.
I just took a break and took the dogs to Saint Joris for their evening walk. To my horror I found the beaches to the west covered in uncooked chicken parts!! Yes some idiots dumped loads of expired chicken in the bay! So local dog walkers be warned, you sure don’t want them eating this stuff! The smell was awful!
That’s it in a nutshell, I worked all day so not much else going on. See you tomorrow, Barry
May 28, 09 Comments Off on Dolphin Piggy-Back-Ride
Good evening all, here’s something you probably have never seen before, I know I haven’t, this is Junior giving Tela a piggy-back ride!! Say What?? Yes your reading that correctly, this is by far one of the funniest and coolest things I have ever seen. Junior swims up under Tela pushing up on her belly with his back then kicks his feet and swims her around the lagoon, it’s hilarious!! Tela just loves it! Obviously her baby Pasku is nowhere around, he doesn’t want any part of this weirdness. I have another photo I will send as well with Junior under Tela again but just his head is under her belly and they both are flying thru the water, wait till you see, aren’t these dolphin great!?
I was off today and for once in my life I stayed home! No walking the dogs, no diving, no biking, I stayed home, weird huh? For some strange reason out of the clear blue I decided to build a new driftwood table?? And once I started I couldn’t stop, I think I spent 6 hours on it and did get it finished by the time Aimee came home. I still haven’t finished the real big one inside our door way but may now get around to finishing it.
Hope you all are doing well, haven’t heard from many of you in a long time!! You know who you are! See you tomorrow, Barry
May 27, 09 Comments Off on Branching Vase Sponge
Hey, hey it’s me! I was going thru pictures today and see that I forgot to send out a photo from our trip from Saba to the Sea Aquarium that we did last Thursday. For those of you who don’t remember, Aimee and I were shuttled in a boat up the coast and dropped off and we dove about a mile back home. This was one of the cool sponge clusters we found hanging out over an endless wall. This is what they call Branching Vase Sponge and the orange below it is a little bit of orange lumpy encrusting sponge, it was just such a nice cluster sitting all by itself at 50 feet that I just had to take the time to photograph. That’s Aimee high above she was pretty much responsible for finding everything “like always” I just take the pictures.
I don’t have much for you this evening I just got home from a mountain bike ride and am recovering from a nice over the bars wreck I had! I was flying up one of my trails and my bar end got hooked on a branch (that I will go cut tomorrow) and off I went rocketing to the ground ending with a big painful thud! My elbows and knees took the brunt of the fall and I have some nice road rash but other than that I feel alright. It’s really true what they say, the older you get, the harder you fall! And no I didn’t cry although I wanted to!
Talk to you tomorrow, super windy in Curacao regards, Barry
May 26, 09 Comments Off on Endangered Elkhorn Coral in Curacao
Good evening friends, how are my readers tonight?? I had another really busy day but that’s nothing new, there’s just always so much to do around here!! Well first of all I took the hound dogs on their normal two hour walk to the ocean. You would think we would get sick of doing the same thing all the time but it just never seems to get old and the dogs love the water.
At 11:00 I met our friend Dirk who is the man when it comes to knowing everything there is about the endangered Elkhorn and Staghorn corals. I took him on a tour of our reef to show him how the population is doing after Omar passed thru. Dirk who is based out of the Rotterdam Zoo in Holland is one of the World’s leading researchers on coral reproduction, check out his site, www.secore.org you can also see some of my donated coral spawning pictures there as well. He is planning on coming back in August to set up camp at the Sea Aquarium and watch these corals for any spawning, and yes I will be by his side as well to take pictures. Your photo this evening is a cluster of Elkhorn that survived Omar. We swam all over today looking at every piece we could find, many are broke but are re-growing and some just plain got beat to death, this is such a delicate coral and thanks to people like Dirk who are here to try and save what’s left and encourage new growth.
I also did a second dive today as well on our reef following a group of collage students that are here learning about the corals as well. My big plan was to try and photograph all these kids together but just didn’t work, there were just to many of them and turned out to be impossible to keep them together. I did however get them all together at the end of the dive near the big sea fan that I use so much and did get a fairly good group photo there.
When I got home I built a big driftwood bird feeder to use out in our yard and made it tall enough so the cats won’t disturb it as well. Aimee and I just got home from a party at the Sea Aquarium, it was a birthday party for Dolphin Academy’s seventh year of operation.
I’m out, Barry
May 25, 09 Comments Off on Curacao Sea Bubbles
Good evening from the Netherlands Antilles! Hah, never used that one before. I told someone today, you try to come up with 365 different blog greetings it gets tough. Well let’s see what did we do in Curacao today? Both of us had to work, if you can call it work and at 1:30 I took off on a fun little macro dive out on the reef. The wind is still blowing like crazy and the waves are a rolling in but that didn’t stop yours truly from having a great dive. I did find out early though that I again had to go to deeper waters to get out of the surge. I was at 42 feet today trying to shoot something and I was still getting moved around by passing waves overhead, strange huh? I kind of just stopped what I was doing and watched as each wave passed all the way thru the reef, the gorgonians and sea fans were really waving back and forth. I took a bunch of close-ups today of all different kinds of coral polyps in a wide range of colors. I noticed tonight after getting home and looking at photos that I photographed some kind of new weird see-thru shrimp. He was sitting on one of the corals I shot, the naked eye would have never seen it and I sure I could never find this spot again.
Your photo this evening is just plain o’l bubbles. When the big waves roll in and crash on the rocks they leave a layer of foamy salt bubbles or sea-foam in it’s place. I love these bubbles, most of my co-workers think I have lost my mind as I lay on the bridge and shoot down into the foam, it’s just to fun to pass up.
That’s about it friends, I’ll be back tomorrow! See ya, Barry
May 24, 09 Comments Off on Peach Encrusting Sponge
Good evening guys and gals how was your Sunday?? I bit the bullet and geared up and took off on a two hour bike ride from the house to Canoa and back in what seemed like hurricane force winds! I don’t know why I rode the loop in the direction I did, if I would have done it the other way I think it would have been much more enjoyable! For those of you unaware of the joys of riding a bike into a strong head wind it’s like rowing a canoe upstream, not a real good time. Well then why do I do it?? I lost track of how many times I asked myself that today, I guess because a bunch of my friends are riding and I don’t want to be the one struggling in the back, so train we must!
After the long ride I showered and grabbed the dogs and took them to the ocean for another two hours like a good daddy, they swam and swam and swam! We left the bay at around noon, it was now even more windy and super hot it was time for some nice cool air-co!
Your photo this evening is a close-up of a section of Peach Encrusting Sponge. Yes this is a sponge, beautiful isn’t it?? Sponges are the simplest of the multicellular animals. The Individual cells display a considerable degree of independence, and form no true tissue layers or organs. Depending on a cell’s location within the sponge, they do, however, perform somewhat specialized functions. A sponge’s surface is perforated with numerous small holes called incurrent pores or ostia. Water is drawn into the sponge through these pores and pumped through the interior by the beating of whip-like extensions on the cells called flagella. As water passes thru the sponge, food and oxygen are filtered out. The water exits into the body’s interior cavity and out the animal’s one or more large excurrent openings or oscula. (Reef Creature ID, Paul Humann/Ned Deloach) This type of sponge only grows on the sides of dead coral heads and comes in all kinds of colors, next time you swim by some stop and check it out really beautiful stuff!
I can smell something yummy cooking upstairs, have to run, see you tomorrow, Barry
May 23, 09 Comments Off on The Shoe Tree at Saint Joris Bay
Good evening, I apologize for not sending this sooner but I totally forgot about it! I got an e-mail today asking what ever happened to the shoe tree we were building? Well here it is in all it’s glory sitting proudly above the shores of Saint Joris Bay for all to see! What we did was carry a big driftwood tree with lots of branches out of the water and up to this cliff. We then hauled rocks and placed them as anchors at the base of the tree and finally collected bags and bags of flip-flops over and shoes from the waters edge to use as decoration. Not only did we clean up the shore line a lot we created a kind of “Trash Masterpiece” to be used as reminder to help keep this area clean! The flip-flops are all tied together with string and rope also from the shore that way they won’t easily fall off. This is the area we walk almost every day so you can kind of get an idea now where all your cacti and crab photos come from and where we find all our beach treasures and chunks of driftwood. You can see Inca here on the lookout for any dangerous lizards and Indi crashed under the shoe tree. The cliff Inca is standing on is also where all the fossil shells are popping out by the thousands, it’s one big sheet of limestone.
I did a macro dive today again at 1:30 but the visibility was terrible compared to yesterday. I had a difficult time today fighting the surge from the passing waves it made taking close-up’s almost impossible. You wouldn’t think a wave traveling over your head could go so far underwater as well but they do! I was at 50 feet today and could still feel a surge, and above 30 feet it was just a shower of sand!
Have a great evening and a wonderful day tomorrow, Barry
May 22, 09 Comments Off on Collection of Curacao Sponges
Good evening faithful ones!! I had such a great dive this afternoon! After our noon programs had finished I grabbed my gear and the camera and met my dive buddy and co-worker Naomi for an ultra fun deep dive. Our plan was to go straight out and over the edge to 135 feet and look for a giant barrel sponge that used to be there, I saw it four years ago but someone said it died quite awhile ago so we went to check it out. So down we went, the visibility was spectacular and there was no current, it just doesn’t get any better! When we got to 115 feet I saw something I had never seen before, the two big sunken tugboats that are laying on a ledge at 170 feet! From a hundred feet you could see them just as plain as day that’s how clear the water was! I have only seen these tugs from the safety of the mini-sub or from photos that my friend Gordy has taken, to say I was star-struck was an understatement!! We found out immediately that the giant barrel sponge was gone, we would have seen it for sure because of the ability to see for every direction so far! So we ended up staying at around 120 feet racing from one incredible outcrop of sponges and corals to another and slowly working our way up the slope. There’s an area down there the size of a football field just filled with these unbelievable sponges almost like big flower arrangements and each one seemed to be more beautiful than the next. Your photo this evening has so many different varieties of sponges in one little cluster, I was so excited I could hardly stand it and can hardly wait to go back. The down side to these new found treasures is of course the depth, I can only be down there for like 10 minutes max, doesn’t give me much time! On the way up I was just looking at things I want to go back to so stay tuned for more fun pictures from the deep.
About thirty minutes after we surfaced I was asked if I wanted to go do a snorkel with the babies, I said heck yeah let’s go! We jumped in with Tela and baby Pasku and DeeDee and baby Tikal, it was a blast! I pretty much would just take a deep breath and lay on the bottom waiting for Junior or Rona (the trainers) to bring the dolphins to me, seemed to work pretty well. I took a bunch of cool stuff will get that to you as well in the next few days.
At 6:00 Aimee and I took the hound dogs on a fun one hike into the sunset at Saint Joris. As usual it was a great time although I did slip climbing a rock and scratched up my arm pretty good, but hey after a day like that who cares!!
See you tomorrow, same bat time, same bat channel (that’s from the old, old t.v. series of batman) Good night, Barry
Oh Geez I almost forgot, I saw a new brand of potato chips today that are mayonnaise and ketchup flavored???? For those of you un-believers I will send a photo upon request, now I have seen it all, yucky!!!
May 21, 09 Comments Off on Caribbean Spiny Lobster
Hi again everyone! Aimee and I had a fun adventure this morning, we did something that we have wanted to do for four years! We met a friend at 9:30 and loaded our dive gear onto a small boat and took off in rough seas to a nearby area called Saba. This is a dive spot that is around a mile up the coast from the Sea Aquarium and is only accessible by boat. Our plan was to get dumped off at Saba and dive all the way back to the House reef in front of the Aquarium. One by one we rolled off like Navy Seals and down we went watching as the boat left us to explore at will. Being that we had such a long way to go we decided to level out at 40 feet to conserve on air. It was a nice dive but not anything like I had imagined, maybe our last storm “Omar” destroyed this area as it was fairly bare in a lot of areas. We did the whole dive along a big wall so we could see way down below us and stuff above us, turned out to be a good cruising depth. Your photo this evening is one of Aimee’s cool finds, this is a giant Caribbean Spiny Lobster. This lobster was really beautiful sitting in his little cave with his “million dollar view”, Aimee went around to one side and I went to the other. We pretty much just swam from one cool sponge outcrop to another taking pictures the whole way although the waves overhead were really starting to affect the visibility and taking pictures became more and more difficult. It was a fun dive but not sure I would do it again, think I will stick to our reef or my favorite place in front of Breezes!
Our day went by so fast today, at 3:00 we took off to the store only to find it was another holiday and everything was closed? So instead of running around I went on a mountain bike ride with some friends and later met Aimee on the trails running with the dogs, that’s our day.
Talk to you more tomorrow, Barry
May 20, 09 Comments Off on Tiny Curacao Burrowing Mud Crab
Good evening one and all, welcome to another day in Curacao. Tonight I have another different crab for you all, not sure of his name so I am just calling him a burrowing mud crab. When the tide goes out around the bay in the area of the mangroves you will see thousands of tiny holes in the mud and each one of these holes contains one of these little crabs. This little guy here was less than half an inch and very hard to get close to. I just randomly picked a hole and set up the tripod and waited and it wasn’t long before out popped this tiny crab. You can see he was not getting to far from his safe underwater mud cave, the slightest movement sent him flying back into his hole at top speed, I was shocked at how fast they can move? Anyways just another cool crab from Curacao and found it interesting enough to photograph.
Not much else for you this evening, it was a day at work entertaining folks from the Adventure of the Sea’s cruise ship, everyone left with smiles on their faces!!
See you tomorrow, Barry
May 19, 09 Comments Off on Giant Barrel Sponge and Diver
Good evening once again everyone. Here’s another fun shot from 100 feet below the surface! This is yet another amazing Giant Barrel Sponge we found the other day on our deep dive out in front of the Sea Aquarium. This is my model Candy again who not only went along for the ride she ended up getting put to work as well, if you can call holding a flashlight work that is?? After finding all these new beautiful sponges I am now on-fire to explore more and see what else we can find? After shooting this at 100 feet I looked down the slope further and I think there may be another but twice this size or bigger at 135-140 feet, any volunteers to go with me and check?? This giant sponge also had the most insane texture on the outside that I have ever seen, it was like hundreds of sponge spikes, really, really cool!
My day today started out with taking the dogs out on our trails by the house and doing some good o’l fashioned trail work. I swept and raked while the girls hid in the shade, this was one of our first really hot days! I pretty much spent the rest of the day at home working on the computer and sitting in the air-co it was way better than being outside. We are currently in need of a air filter for our car and today even though I was told not to, I tried to wash the one we have. I used hot water and soap and did get it a little cleaner but now see why they told me you can’t wash them, it kind of started to fall apart. The filter can only be bought in Holland making it very difficult for us to get parts for this thing.
At 5:00 against my better judgment I took off on my bike and headed to Saint Joris. I fought the worst wind ever the whole way there, it was awful! In fact at one point I heard a noise behind me and looked over my shoulder and was being drafted by a local kid on a homemade piece of junk BMX bike!? That’s one of those little one speed bikes that the kids all ride. I thought to myself, “this is embarrassing” I’m on a $2500.00 mountain bike and I’m getting my butt kicked by some kid on a kids bike? What kind of nightmare is this? I then increased my speed thinking he would now fall off the back and be gone! No such luck, not only did this young kid match my speed he passed me going up a long hill into the wind?? As he passed I said “good job my friend” huffing and puffing of course, he just looked at me and smiled and put the pedal to the pavement. At the top of the hill he turned off, lucky he did or I would have had to teach him a real lesson!! Not! I swear am I just getting old, am I that out of shape or was I riding on two flat tires, I’m gonna say all three!
That’s it for my adventures today, see you tomorrow, Barry
May 18, 09 Comments Off on Touch-Me-Not Sponge Worms
Good evening readers of the Curacao blog, how was your day today? Remember a few days ago when I sent you the picture of the new fish we found, the little spotlight goby? Well I mentioned that the little white marks on the sponge were all tiny worms and since then have received countless e-mails about the worms. So I went out today and took a close-up of these worms just to prove that I am not crazy and not making this stuff up. One person asked how can these sponges survive with all those worms? Good question. There are a number of animals that live in association with this toxic sponge. The list includes, Touch-Me-Not Fanworms, Sponge Brittle Stars, Florida Tubeworm Snails, the Yellow Goby and the Shortstripe Goby, all need this sponge to survive. The worms you see here are actually tiny polychaete Sponge Worms and feed by inserting their proboscis into individual cells never harming the sponge itself. This was a super hard picture to take today! The worms are down along the inside walls and the sponge it’s self is very toxic! I am sure I took 50 pictures and only had a few come out but was bound and determined to get something. So divers the next time you swim over a Touch-Me-Not sponge stop and really look, all those white specks you see on the inside are all worms, it’s just so cool!
Here’s something fun and different for you all this evening, have you ever tried to say the word “Toy Boat” 10 times real fast?? It’s close to impossible! Well we were playing this at work the other day and the locals I work with said “oh yeah, we have one of those here too” try saying “Baka Brabu Rabu Largu” 10 times real fast! It means Angry Cow, Long Tail! The locals here enjoy this tongue twister as much as we love ours and there’s even one I learned in Dutch, it goes “de kat krabt de kruller van de trap”. Say What? This one is translated as “the cat scratches off the curls on the stairs”. The way I understood this was that if you have stairs with carpeting and own a cat, the cat will scratch or claw at the carpet creating little curls of carpeting with it’s claws, I love it!
That’s it, more tomorrow. Barry
May 17, 09 Comments Off on Four Blackbar Soldierfish Under a Giant Sea Fan
Good evening boys and girls, how was your much deserved weekend?? I had a busy day as usual starting with a three hour hike. I ended up taking on more distance than I should have this morning, what looked like a quarter of a mile turned out to be a mile and so on and so forth. We started at the usual place at Saint Joris and headed to the inlet of the bay where the ocean meets the island. When we got there I figured why not head towards Canoa now along the coast until we get to the first beach, well that took forever! When we got there the dogs raced to the water and just stood there cooling off as I looked back were we had just come from thinking this was not a good idea. After giving the dogs half of the water we again headed out into the desert this time going a different way back, I figured it would take about the same time to back-track as it would to do a loop around the mountain. Well to make a long story short, I won’t do that walk again, about a quarter of the way back I gave the dogs the rest of the water and kind of just wondered what possessed me to do this today? We got back to the car over three hours later, the dogs raced to the ocean to cool off and I raced to the water that was in the car, that’s a long walk carrying all that camera gear, tripod and water! The good side to that walk was that the dogs slept the rest of the day.
After resting for awhile I assembled the underwater camera and took off to the Sea Aquarium for another dive. The dive was wonderful! Again the visibility was super clear and there were schools and schools of fish, it’s like swimming in a big aquarium. I am still searching our reef for different and unusual sponges, never realized just how many different kinds there are until you really open your eyes and look, it was really fun. I looked for the seahorse on the way back but didn’t see him, boy do they ever blend in!
Your photo was taken on my way out today near the exit. This is our big Sea Fan we have at the edge of our reef with four unafraid Blackbar Soldierfish. I have used this sea fan for so many pictures over the years, including with the mini-sub and countless models, it just sits there swaying back and forth all day.
That’s about it, talk to you tomorrow, Barry