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 August, 2009
Aug 31, 09 Comments Off on Juvenile Spotted Drum
Good evening all, finally talked to Aimee on Skype tonight apparently her moms monitor crashed and is waiting for a new one. Sounds like all is well and she’s having a great time!!
Here’s a tiny little Juvenile Spotted Drum I found the other day in a little cave, he was only about an inch in length! That big long fin on top will get smaller and smaller as they get older. These are some of the most fascinating fish in the sea to watch, they are so graceful and just swim in circles in front of their homes all day long. Today on my dive I watched as a big electric blue cowfish attacked another smaller one? He would constantly run into the side of the smaller one hitting him hard with his mouth, weird huh?? I do have a so so photo but will send it so you can see, it was very strange? My dive today started out with clear, calm water and no current but after 20 minutes everything changed! Once that current starts up it takes everything you got to swim into it and taking pictures becomes close to impossible, you just can’t keep still enough to focus!
After work today I met our friend Matthias who brought his two dogs, one is Kaya the dog we rescued a long time ago, remember?? We did an hour walk around the World Cup course which is pretty much back to being in terrible shape for riding! We have so much loose rock here that it needs to be constantly cleaned or it makes the riding way more dangerous.
That’s about it, sorry nothing exciting tonight! Many thanks for all the recent photo compliments you guys are great! It’s off to bed for the three of us, see you tomorrow, Barry
Aug 30, 09 Comments Off on Baby Dolphin Hugging His Mother
Good evening all. Tonight I have another super cute photo of baby Pasku (top) and his mother Tela for my dolphin fan club out there!! You can thank Junior for this shot because he has been trying to train this for months now and every time he tries he gets better results! Tela will lay in any position you want for as long as you want but trying to get a baby dolphin to calm down and rest on mommas head is really an unbelievable accomplishment!! Pasku got a bit banged up about a week ago so this is the only side I can shoot on him right now, the other side has scratches and also a bruise over his eye all caused by rough play.
My day off was like a race all day long!! I started this beautiful day by first taking the dogs for their early morning walk. I then took off on a fast 20 mile bike ride which took about an hour and a half, some on dirt and some on the road. It rained again last night so just about everything was pretty wet this morning and there were some places I could not go without getting completely muddy. Once I got home and cleaned up I put my underwater camera together, grabbed the dive gear and took off for a dive at the Sea Aquarium. I had planned on taking photos for Dirk of his Elkhorn research but strong current, big waves and bad visibility changed my goals quickly! I ended up being out there a long time but really didn’t see much or just couldn’t take photos with the surge. I did find a spot where some small pillar corals were tipped over. I found a sandy spot and laid the camera in the sand and placed them right side up again, it’s always a good feeling to lend a helping hand to the reef. After the dive I went back home ate everything in sight and then worked on doing all kinds of odd jobs around the house, like dishes and washing stuff. At 5:00 I loaded the dogs again and off we went to Caracasbaai. There I had to place another Geocache at the Castle, it was robbed! I still have so many people looking for these caches every week so I have to keep them active, Once that was placed I drove the dogs to the salt flats for an hour walk and now we are all back home tired! So that was my day, what did you do??
I haven’t heard from Aimee yet but hey, I’m only her husband?? She must be going a hundred miles a minute! I’ll be back tomorrow, Barry
Aug 29, 09 Comments Off on Octopus Eye
Hello everyone, tonight on my way to Saint Joris I finally confirmed what Aimee and I have guessed to be true all along, there are no driving laws of any kind in Curacao!! Tonight as we drove to ocean I was following a police car and like a bolt of lightning two guys on these super fast racing quads passed me and the cop like we were standing still!! I briefly thought, finally some justice will be served but nothing happened!? I’m guessing as fast as those two maniacs were going the police just knew it would be in vain anyways. For the most part I have adapted to the no driving rules thing over the years, in fact it can be down right fun! You can park or drive on any sidewalk if you so choose, pass on any street at any time, drive as slow or as fast as you like and no one minds if you throw your trash out the windows, heck I guess it’s driving paradise! We had another great evening at the beach! The wind was blowing super hard and the water was as high as I have ever seen it but that didn’t stop us all from getting wet and muddy!
Well, I just had myself a little dinner, the dogs are cleaned and it’s about time for bed. I haven’t heard from Aimee much, I guess she hasn’t learned to use e-mail yet but loves that Facebook stuff! I am 100% sure she is having a super great time surrounded by family and friends and one of these nights we will talk to her.
I found this octopus the other day while out cruising around the Elkhorn corals. He was in a little cave and only had his head sticking out with only one eye open and was just waiting for darkness to fall.
Off to bed, talk to you all tomorrow, Barry
Aug 28, 09 Comments Off on Two Colorful Lantern Bass
Today was so hot that I remembered our friend Dave once saying when he was here, “I can’t stop sweating”, boy was that ever true today! I tell you coming in from outside and being in air-co has to be just one of the greatest things ever!! I worked all day and raced home twice to check on the dogs, Aimee has only been gone a day and it’s killing me!!
I had one of the funniest things ever happen to me this evening at Saint Joris. After work I raced home fed the dogs drank my cup of coffee and off we went for an evening of fun at the ocean. My plan is on my work days (while Aimee is gone) to take the dogs somewhere super fun in the evenings and on my off days do my diving and biking. So this evening we drove to the far side of Saint Joris bay parked the car and off we went on a nice long hike along the waters edge looking for driftwood. Well the first beach I got to I found a life-like toy baby doll without a head laying in the sand. This is one of those baby dolls that the arms and legs move has the same skin color, same size as a real baby it just had no head. Well believe it or not I wanted to keep it as I have a friend who collects these, he is a photographer who is doing something really “creative” with them. The doll was filled with sand which came in thru a big hole where the head used to be attached and before hauling it home I wanted to see if I could get it out!! So I grabbed the baby and walked out a ways into deeper water and of course the dogs followed. I then proceeded to hold the baby underwater for a few seconds to let water inside and then I would hold it up high by the neck and shake it as hard as I could repeating the process over and over. The dogs were really curious about this and every time I put it in the water they tried to grab it and run off with it. I had my back to the shore and was again holding the baby high in the air by the neck shaking the water and sand out when out of nowhere we heard an ear piercing scream!! The scream was so loud it scared me to death causing me to drop the baby in the water! Turning around I saw a lady with her hand over her mouth almost in tears and her husband/boyfriend came charging at me into the water!! I kind of put my hands up ready to be attacked but he went right past me and went directly to the floating toy baby!!! Folks if you could have seen this guys face when he grabbed that toy doll, it was completely priceless! It was complete chaos, the dogs were running and barking at these two that surprised us, the guy had jumped into the water with his nice shorts and shoes and he killed his cell phone, Indi grabbed the doll from the guys hands and took off with it and I was trying to explain to the Dutch lady what I was doing with the doll!! They really thought I was drowning or killing a baby!! It is possible that I was making some strange noises while shaking the baby to get the dogs going a bit, you gotta have sound effects for such an occasion! After everyone calmed down she said they walked down and immediately saw me with the baby in the air shaking it and hearing some strange noises so what else were they supposed to think?? Too funny! We all laughed till it hurt, they took a bunch of photos of me and the doll and then we parted ways, that’s something that’s never happed to me before. I tell you when that lady let out that scream and to see a full grown adult male running at you into the water, it scared the tar out of me and the dogs just went nuts! I think that’s the first time anyone has ever snuck up on our dogs, if it wasn’t for the sound of the waves, the wind and me shaking the doll I am sure they would have heard them. So besides that little adventure we found some great driftwood tonight which I hauled home and some other fun beach treasures! We didn’t get home till really late and I now have two clean very tired dogs laying here crashed for the night.
You photo this evening is of two Lantern Bass together, something I have never seen before. These brightly colored fish can be found in shallow water areas with lots of rock rubble. I would have loved to spend more time with these two but I was out of air when I found them, isn’t that always the case!
It’s late I am off to bed, Aimee arrived safely but that’s all I have heard! See you tomorrow, Barry
Aug 27, 09 Comments Off on Elkhorn Coral Reef Scene in Curacao
Good evening readers, as I type Aimee must be landing in New Mexico after a very long day of travel. We got up at 5:00 this morning and had her to the airport and checked in by just a little after 6:00, it was sad to see her go but I know she’s going to have a great time! I went straight home and grabbed the dogs and took them for their morning walk thru the Curacao desert. Our island has actually greened up again a bit after that last hard rain a few days ago and the trails are in perfect shape for riding. After our morning hike I rushed home and got my dive gear together and met our friend Dirk at the aquarium for a dive. Many of you remember me talking about Dirk, he’s one of the leading experts on Elkhorn corals and has done so much to help save these endangered corals. We had a nice dive, the water was pretty clear, fish everywhere and just a slight current. This is one of the hundreds of Elkhorn coral shots I took today. All of the clusters of Elkhorn’s were home to countless schools of fish today, it was really quite the sight and for once I had the right lens!! I did not see the spotted eagle ray but I did find a big flying gurnard swimming around the reef, I thought boy your sure are lost! After about 30 minutes Dirk signaled me and went back in, I continued to hang out here in this shallow water watching all the activity and found a big school of squids to play with, it was just such a great dive!
I spent the rest of the day cleaning gear, going shopping and working on the computer and at 5:30 took the dogs for another walk. Sorry so short but that’s about it, have a wonderful evening and a great day tomorrow, bye now, Barry
Aug 26, 09 Comments Off on Dolphin Rocket Ride in Curacao
Good evening readers of the blog. This is our gorgeous head trainer Zenzi getting high in the sky with style!! This is called the Rocket Ride and gets it’s name from diving underwater to the bottom with two dolphins and having them push you straight up to the surface at top speed sending our fearless ladies into Curacao orbit!! It’s one of those crazy things they do here that I never get tired of watching, it’s just so cool!
Work was just a bit slower today for the first time in forever. Aimee spent the day packing as she leaves for the states in the morning for three weeks, man that’s a long time!! I really don’t have much for you all this evening kind of just in a daze after a long day in the sun!
I’ll be back tomorrow, Barry
Aug 25, 09 Comments Off on Redspotted Hawkfish
Hi friends! How’s everyone doing this evening?? I had the day off and kept busy all day! I started off with a two hour hike with the dogs and raked the trails as I went along, a clean trail is a happy trail! You could tell right away this morning that is was going to be a real hot day in Curacao, the locust were going crazy!! They were so loud at times I could hardly hear myself think, this is the first time I have noticed them this year. On our morning walks we always stop at the beach for the dogs to swim on the way back, they just love it!! Once home I gathered my dive gear and camera and took off to the Sea Aquarium for a shallow dive on our reef. I had just jumped in and was underwater turning on my camera and adjusting my strobes in 12 feet of water when out of nowhere a big beautiful spotted eagle ray came right at me and went right over my head!! What a rush!! I have never seen one of those on our reef before and almost thought I was dreaming! I know what your thinking, did you get a picture?? The answer is NO! I had my macro lens. I always seem to have the wrong lens, it’s Murphy’s Law! Anyways I just slowly followed him as he flapped his large wings in the current and as quickly as he appeared he was gone, it was really unbelievable!! Other than the terrible current it was a really fun dive, the good thing about current is that the water is crystal clear!! I found this little beauty resting in the middle of a cluster of pillar colors. This is a bottom dweller, he’s called a Redspotted Hawkfish. When you shoot these guys you usually only get one shot, because after the flash fires they are gone! If you look real close at the top of his spines on his back you will see each one has a tiny tassel on top, how cool is that?? I swam around looking at all the Elkhorn and Staghorn colonies and all in all they are looking pretty good. Besides my ray encounter I ran into a big school of squids, a giant barracuda and schools and schools of fish, if ever I took the wrong lens on a dive it was today!
I just home from a short bike ride with some friends. During the ride I busted one of my spokes and ended up having to wrap it around other spokes just to get home. On the way back I met Aimee and the dogs, she was wiped out from a long day at work. Aimee leaves in two days, my how time flies!
Talk to you tomorrow, sunny regards, Barry
Aug 24, 09 Comments Off on Strange Orange Sponge in Curacao
Good evening from Curacao. I have been telling you all now for the past week about this weird sponge I found and as promised here it is?? It’s not very big, only around 6 inches tall but it is beautiful and I have never seen one in these waters before. I was looking thru my sponge book and on page 43 of the Reef Creatures book it does show a Red-Orange Branching sponge, maybe this is just mutated?? I really hope some of my sponge experts on the list or my local divers can help with an I.D.? Aimee and I are returning here on Thursday as I want to get a diver next to it for size, maybe just her face and mask or the o’l magnifying glass trick?
Work was again non-stop!! At 1:30 today I had to run to my eye doctor who sent me home with a clean bill of health saying the eyes looked good. I do however need reading glasses for anything that is real tiny but I can live with that!!
I received an e-mail this evening from our friend Lori who owns the famous Dark Canyon Coffee Company in Rapid City, South Dakota. She read that Aimee is leaving for the states soon and is sending us some “Highlander Groog”, the best coffee I have ever had! You can buy yours at www.darkcanyon-coffee.com tell Lori your on the list as well, always good to make new friends!! Thanks again, we can hardly wait!
That’s about it, the whale is doing great! It followed the boat out to sea today for the first time without nets and came back on it’s own, George and the team of volunteers should get a medal for this or at least a key to the city!
See ya tomorrow, Barry
Aug 23, 09 Comments Off on Juvenile Smooth Trunkfish
Good evening one and all. Well, it was a full day of rain here in Curacao today, and we needed it!!! I was in the ocean at 8:00 and did a two hour and ten minute dive in fifteen feet of water! I went back to where Aimee and I had seen this little baby, just born Trunkfish the other day in front of Pen Resort. When I first got there I did not see him and had kind of given up searching and later I found him about ten feet away from where we had last spotted him. For my new readers these baby trunkfish are about the size of a pea!! How do you take a photo of a constantly moving pea you ask, well it’s not easy! Out of the hundred photos I took I have around ten that are sharp and I was shooting at F25, he just won’t stop moving long enough for me to get a good shot and he was in a tough to get to area and the waves were moving me around and, and, and!! It’s just difficult but fun! I love just laying there on the ocean floor and watching this little thing try to swim around. Any little surge from a passing wave tosses him out of his little cave but he always found his way back in, how do they survive out there?? My whole dive was pretty great, found a reef scorpionfish, a big octopus, a tiny eel, two lantern bass together, and got some shots of that weird sponge I found, all these photos are headed your way so stay tuned.
When I got out from my dive it was raining as hard as it can rain!! The good side to this situation is that I was getting rinsed with fresh water the whole way back to the car and I didn’t have to rinse the camera, it was raining that hard! I only had time to open the back throw my tank in with the BC still connected and drove off still soaking wet in my wetsuit!
I ended up staying home the rest of the day working on the computer and cleaning up some old underwater housings from Dolphin Academy that I am going to put on E-Bay. For any of you interested we have a nice Ikelite housing for a Nikon D-70s (no strobe) but with an 18-70 port and a Sea and Sea Housing for a Canon EOS D-60, this also has the camera, 16mm/2.8 wide angle lens, wide angle dome port and flash! Call me for a price quote. I am selling them for the Dolphin Academy.
We just got home from an evening walk to a new area! A friend took me to these new trails behind Canoa on the mountain bikes and tonight we found the trail-head with the car, it was muddy but fun!
Dinner is calling, see you, Barry
Aug 22, 09 Comments Off on Reef Scene in Curacao
Good evening all, we just had a nice hard rain pass over after a scorching hot day!! I am again coming home after another hard day and as tired as a person can be, it was so busy again!
Your photo this evening has lots of cool things all in one. I was taking pictures of the glob of orange lumpy encrusting sponge in the middle of this large mound of massive starlet coral when these two curious fish swam over to watch what I was doing. They just sat there looking at me the whole time I was shooting this scene completely unafraid. If you look close on the top of the mound of coral you can see a bunch of multi colored Christmas tree worms and above the fish and over to the right you can see some orange cup coral polyps that are closed, at night they will open. These are some of the corals that will be spawning next month with little eggs and sperm, it’s quite the sight!
Sorry kind of boring tonight, I am just so tired! I smell spaghetti a cooking up stairs, that’s my cue to sign off. I will talk to you tomorrow, have a great weekend, Barry
Aug 22, 09 Comments Off on Juvenile Clown Wrasse
Good morning gang, believe it or not there is not much to report this morning. We had a another record busy day yesterday and I think it’s safe to say we all went home wiped out!! The ocean current was the topic of yesterdays conversations around the Aquarium because of George having to basically save four divers from it yesterday morning. A local dive boat dropped off it’s divers into this really strong current out in front of the Dolphin Academy for an early morning dolphin dive with George, Junior and our dolphin Annie. Moments after they jumped in two divers popped to the surface trying to fight the current and later four more. To make a long story short George threw out a long line and all the divers grabbed on and he pulled them all to the safety of calm water while the bigger dive boat just watched. Annie was a bit freaked out by all this activity and would not go back into her lagoon for quite awhile so we had to put up a net across the channel, it seemed like it was just one little problem after another yesterday!! Like I said before many divers just haven’t had to deal with mega strong current before, you really can’t fight it, doing a drift dive is about all one can do.
Aimee went to dinner with friends last night while I took the dogs on a long walk to Saint Joris. Geez when was the last time I had been there, it seemed like forever? I have been trying to ride the bike at least 3 times a week now so I haven’t done as much dog walking. Aimee leaves in about a week she will be in New Mexico the whole three weeks. I took off a week next month for coral spawning, can’t work and do all that diving again. Your photo is of a little juvenile clown wrasse stopped at a cleaning station with his mouth open just waiting for someone to come clean him? As I watched he never did get waited on, once a clown always a clown I guess they must have thought he was just joking around??
I have to go another busy day at work is brewing, see ya, Barry
Aug 20, 09 Comments Off on Elkhorn Coral New Growth in Curacao
Good evening readers of the Curacao blog. Aimee and I left the house at 8:30 and headed to our new dive site in front of the new proposed resort down by the Avila Hotel. I was hoping to run into my homeless guy but he was no where to be found and he knew I was coming this morning. We had a great dive this morning. Our first stop was at this really cool chunk of endangered Elkhorn Coral. This piece is ultra unique because the base is a chunk of Elkhorn that broke off from a bigger colony (out of the picture) and is now regrowing into a spectacular specimen of it’s own. One of the coolest things about this coral is that once a chunk breaks off for whatever reason it has the ability to start a new colony from that broken piece, this is such a perfect example!! You can also see a few little tropical fish that live in this piece and also we looked under it and it was filled with all kinds of cool little creatures as well! When we first arrived here I spotted a tiny pea sized trunkfish hiding here in a little cave. I will have to go back on Sunday with a different lens and try to find him, believe it or not this is possible. After investigating this area we continued our dive by swimming over to the edge of the reef but instantly realized someone had turned the current on high! Aimee and I were hovering right on the edge of a wall of current. I looked down the slope and saw all the gorgonians bent completely over and all the fish swimming in one direction, right into it! Her and I were pretty much kicking our fins but we really were not moving, it’s like an invisible workout machine! We kind of fought it for awhile but finally said enough and turned back around, Aimee just hovered above my head sitting Indian style with her legs crossed letting the current take her back, it was so funny to watch! So other than the crazy current it was a real fun dive, I saw a little sponge that I have to go back and shoot it’s so unusual!!
At 12:30 I had a doctors appointment while Aimee took a nap. At 4:30 I went for a long bike ride with a friend while Aimee took the dogs and her bike to Canoa for an evening of shell collecting. Aimee leaves for the States in about a week for her three week vacation and I am already stocking up on frozen food!!
See you tomorrow, Barry
Aug 19, 09 Comments Off on Row Pore Rope Sponge at Santa Cruz
Good evening friends, first I want to say, please stop asking me for 25 guilders!! I made that mistake once and it won’t happen again! I received countless e-mails today saying you will watch my car and even help me out of the ocean for 25 guilders, ha, ha very funny, so I’m a gullible white boy what can I say!? I guess if you can’t look back and laugh at your mistakes “and I admit this one is funny” then well, oh heck I’m sure I will do this again who am I kidding?! We are headed back to the Pen Resort beach tomorrow morning so it will be interesting to hear what he (Michael) has to say about all this, stay tuned!
I keep forgetting to ask my local friends if they would like to help watch the whale?? It can be for an hour during the day, or anytime at night or thru the morning hours they really need your help!! Please call me at 661-5795 or the Whale Hotline at 696-6926, some of these volunteers are worn out, they have been there day in and day out anytime you can donate is appreciated!
Your photo this evening is of one of the most spectacular Row Pore Rope Sponge colonies I have ever seen in Curacao! I found this beauty at Santa Cruz a few months back and have wanted to get back there again to search the area better.
We sold some driftwood furniture tonight and took an order for a driftwood toy box something I haven’t built yet but have some fun ideas!
We just finished dinner, chicken on a stick on the BBQ, yummy! Aimee is busy Skyping Emily at the moment, we sure miss her, she was such a great guest!!
See you tomorrow, Barry
Aug 19, 09 Comments Off on Encrusting Sponge Close-Up
Good morning, I was so tired at 9:00 last night I just went to bed, this island wears me out!! I started my day off yesterday by taking my underwater camera and dive gear back to Pen Resort for an early morning dive. The second I arrived I was greeted my Michael who had just jumped in the ocean for a bath and was washing his clothes and was hanging them along the side of his plywood shelter. I got my dive gear together and before I left I asked him to please watch my car and also told him that I could use his help getting out as I had my big camera and the waves were getting bigger by the minute. He said yeah yeah no problem so as an act of faith I gave him a little money up front, big mistake! He said to me just before I was getting in, “do you mind if I run real fast to get some food”, he said “it’s real close and I will be back in 10 minutes”! I said fine, thinking he’s probably hungry just be here to watch the car and when I get out, so off he went! Well, I never saw him again the rest of the day! I was in the water for over two hours photographing the Elkhorns and every so often I would surface and look around but he was gone! So what have I learned?? Never give 25 guilders to a guy who lives under a piece of plywood, I really thought I could trust this guy but apparently not! Other than that my dive went very well. The water was clear due to the current but made for a perfect long dive, I found all the corals I was looking for and got them all photographed. Getting out was the only pain, you have to time it just perfectly or you will become part of the coastline, I am getting pretty good at it!
Once home I washed my gear and burned a CD with all the photos I just took and at 3:00 had a meeting to discuss them. At 6:00 I took off on a super fast mountain bike ride, I only had an hour as it gets dark at 7:00.
This is a close-up photo of a little piece of encrusting sponge I found the other day. This beautiful stuff grows on the sides of dead rocks and kind of adds some color to the reef.
That’s it in a nutshell, Aimee is off today and I am off to work! Have a great day, if any of you locals see Michael tell him he owes me 25 guilders, that’s around $12 bucks! Bye now, Barry
Aug 17, 09 Comments Off on Sunken Propeller at Sea Aquarium
Good evening friends, we had such a busy day today!! My friends from the States have asked about the economy here and as far as I can tell we seem to be fairly unaffected by it. I have heard that a few resorts around the island were struggling and that some of the new big resorts that are being built have slowed construction but other than that all seems well and busy! We were again as full today as we could be and even had programs today at 4:00, I have only seen that a few times.
Here’s a shot from out on our reef here at the Aquarium. This is a giant propeller that is now resting on the ocean floor at around 30 feet and is home to countless creatures! We have two seahorses that are still living here around this big prop and I heard today someone found a mantis shrimp somewhere here today as well. This morning there was supposed to be a dolphin dive around the area of this prop but super strong current put an end to that!! I was at the aquarium this morning taking photos of a dolphin swim when I watched as a dive boat pulled up outside on our reef and unloaded divers into the current. The divers were supposed to swim to the area of this propeller and meet George and our dolphin Annie but the second they jumped in, before they could even go under they were being taken away by the current, it’s nasty stuff folks! Most of the divers that come here for a vacation have never been in current and it catches them completely off guard and many of them panic! Tomorrow I will be back at Pen Resort all day photographing the reef again, if anyone wants to help or join please give me a call (661-5795) I always need extra help!
That’s about it, Aimee just got home, it’s 8:30 she was helping do something with the whale again while I took the dogs on a nice long walk! See ya, Barry