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 October, 2009
Oct 31, 09 Comments Off on Scarlet Macaw Named Rufo Caught in the Rain
Good evening boys and girls how was you Halloween day?? Our day here started at 4:30 in the morning! Our friends Zenzi and Ester came by at 5:00 and took Aimee to the airport, all three girls are headed to the IMATA conference in Atlanta. So I am on my own again for a week, will have to start getting up earlier just to get everything done in time.
Today we got hammered by a tropical downpour that dumped so much water in such a short time we had to cancel all our afternoon dolphin swims due to yucky water! When it rains like it did today everything runs into the sea causing very poor surface water conditions! While it was raining or should I say pouring someone inside yelled “look at poor Rufo”! Well poor Rufo was having a blast! He would open his mouth and drink water plus spread his wings open getting a super full body shower!! I shot this from a window, it was raining so hard I couldn’t get near him without getting soaked. After the rain stopped he just sat there in a daze a little bit like he was cold so I picked him up and dried him the best I could.
After work I took the hound dogs on a muddy one hour walk and a fun swim in the ocean. The ocean was like a lake tonight so the dogs had such a great time swimming and are now fast asleep! The frogs are sure making noise tonight, it’s time for bed, talk to you tomorrow, Barry
Oct 30, 09 Comments Off on Happy Halloween from Curacao
Good evening friends. I spent the evening looking thru tons of pictures trying to find some kind of a scary face for Halloween but all I found was this “Happy Face” photo from Inca. I mean if you didn’t know Inca and you saw this coming at you full speed it could be seen as scary right?? Well Happy Halloween anyways I tried!
Aimee and I both worked today so not much to report. I did go on a fast one hour bike ride directly after work and then raced home and took the dogs for a very short walk returning in the dark.
Bad news for the local reef system tonight, Lionfish have just been found for the first time in Bonaire and in Curacao this week at the dive site Watamula. Lionfish are not supposed to be here and can and will do great harm as they are ferocious hunters and eating machines!! Divers are being told to immediatly report any sightings or carefully catch them and take them to the Sea Aquarium or contact me and I will help any way I can. It would appear that a cloud of larvae carried by the ocean currents passed by the windward islands recently, out of which the larvae settled when they found the sea bottom within reach. It is likely then that hundreds of juvenile Lionfish are now living around the islands. Because they can live down to depths of 150m (500 ft) or more we will never see most of them, only those that end up relatively shallow, like the three that have now been reported.
Aimee leaves early tomorrow morning for her trip to the States, it’s going to be an interesting week. Gotta run, have a safe Halloween, Barry
Oct 29, 09 Comments Off on Diving the Mushroom Forest in Curacao
Hello all yes it’s me again! I get so many letters asking and wondering how in the world do you find time to do your blog thing every day?? Well it’s simple, I get daily doses of encouragement from many of my readers and that’s always enough to keep me going another day! Like today I wake up turn on the computer and there is a note from a lady I have never met! Her name is Carol Haralson of Carol Haralson Books, (Google it) well this woman just makes our day every time she writes!! Her notes are filled with compliments and inspiration and shortly after reading them I feel like Super Photographer and race out into the world to find something to shoot! It’s really amazing how far a compliment can take you, try it today and see for yourself, words are a powerful thing! And since I’m on the subject I want to thank all my “Regulars” for always keeping in touch on an almost daily basis, Aimee and I love to get your notes from home!
Here’s a fun shot we took a few weeks ago while Eva was here at one of Curacao’s top dive destination, the Mushroom Forest. More folks go here than any place on the island and for good reason it has all kinds of beautiful coral and sponge formations! It gets it’s name from these super big Star Coral mounds that kind of look like giant mushrooms, “with a good imagination that is”!! This is Aimee hovering above one of the thousands of cool sponge out-crops. The long purple ropes are called Row Pore Rope Sponge and the sponges in the middle are Branching Vase Sponges, it’s just so beautiful!!
We had a fun family outing this morning, Aimee took us to an abandoned land-house she found while out running the dogs on Wednesday. This place must have been built in the early 1800’s and it still looks pretty good, would love to have a million bucks to fix it up, and it has the best view in all of Curacao! The rest of the day was a bit on the lazy side, I went to the doctor for my annual check-up and worked on driftwood creations the rest of the day trying to get some more things ready for sale. Aimee went on a one hour mountain bike ride by herself at 5:30 and I took the dogs for a short walk, that was pretty much our day.
Aimee is leaving for an IMATA conference Saturday morning and will be gone for one week. It will be held in Atlanta this year and is going with two other top trainers from work. Here’s the IMATA site address for those of you interested, www.imata.org/cms.php?home it stands for International Marine Animal Trainers Association.
I’m off to bed, hope you all are doing well, still waiting to hear from some of you e-mail slackers out there! Till tomorrow, Barry
Oct 28, 09 Comments Off on Southern or Caribbean Stingrays in Curacao
Good evening from the ABC islands!! Over the past year many have requested a Stingray photo and by golly I found a few this week in my old stock of photos. This is the Southern Stingray or also called the Caribbean Stingray and is the most common ray found in the Caribbean. These were shot right in our own backyard at the Curacao Sea Aquarium in Animal Encounters. Here you can pay to swim with the rays and other fish in a giant lagoon and feed them at the same time, it’s quite the adventure just ask our guests who have done it, right Nancy!! I can still remember the look on our friend Bernard’s face when he went in with me for the first time. Once they found out he had food it was every ray for himself and seconds later he was completely covered in rays, one was even resting on his head! We do see these out diving on the reef but I think mostly they are laying in sand somewhere completely covered and we probably swim right over them.
Aimee was off all day, I worked and it was busy again, it sure makes the day go by fast. We are doing a little family adventure tomorrow morning to a new place that Aimee found today, I’ll send a photo. I’m out, have a great evening, Barry
Oct 28, 09 Comments Off on Double Dolphin Kiss
Good morning all, sorry I didn’t get this out last night I was just to tired after a bike ride and hours of going thru old cd’s. Yesterday was pretty much spent at home, I worked on the computer going thru old photos from years past, I worked on my driftwood projects a bit and then went for a very short and slow bike ride at 5:30. Before the bike ride I had to go into work for a little meeting during which they presented me with an award of sorts for working at the Dolphin Academy now for five years! That’s a long time, my how time flies when your on vacation!
Here’s a fun photo of Zenzi I took the other day. I am always asking the girls to try or do something different with the animals, it’s fun for them and the trainer! All the dolphins are doing great, baby Pasku and Tikal are now out in the big lagoon with everyone and just as happy as can be. We have some pregnant dolphins again this year so soon we will all be very busy with baby watches again.
The whale is also doing great, each morning he follows the boat far out into the ocean in hopes of finding a pod he can jump in with, I guess it’s just a matter of time.
Have to get ready for work, Aimee is off today and will be going somewhere fun with the dogs this morning. Have a great day, thanks for the notes and all the compliments on yesterdays photos, he sure was a big hit with you all. Bye now, Barry
Oct 27, 09 Comments Off on Giant Porcupinefish in Curacao
Good morning, waking up with a very sore shoulder this morning, can hardly lift my arm. I have to take Aimee to the whale again this morning and will probably just walk the dogs over in the salt pan area while I am out. Very little going on lately, everything is fairly calm although work continues to be very busy still. It kind of looks like our rainy season may be starting, we are now getting rain and mosquitoes on a regular basis.
Found this picture of a giant Porcupinefish last night while going thru photos from 2007. These things are always worth stopping to watch as they ever so slowly move thru the water just minding their own business. On many dives we find these docile creatures just hiding underneath a coral overhang or in a cave of some sort just floating the day away! I just love their facial expressions!!
Sorry so short, I have to go, talk to you tonight, Barry
Oct 25, 09 Comments Off on Giant Moth or Butterfly found in Curacao
Good evening gang, we had this monster moth or butterfly hanging out at the aquarium the other day and it just so happens I had my camera with me that day. The wingspan on this bad boy was around 10 inches making it one of the largest I have ever seen. I looked on line but could not find a name so I am counting on my butterfly and moth experts out there to help me. The underside of this guy was pretty dark, like a dark brown to black if that helps at all? This moth pretty much just hung onto this tree all day trying to stay out of the wind.
I forgot to tell you all about our little wild parakeet encounter yesterday morning. I was taking Aimee to the whale at 6:15 in the morning and all of a sudden she yells, “that was a little parakeet sitting in the middle of the road”!! I hit the brakes and wiped a u-turn as fast as I could and sure enough there in the middle of the road on the white stripe was a little green parakeet. I pulled over and raced out and grabbed him and carefully handed him to Aimee, one more car and he would have been run over! He wasn’t moving much, we thought he may have a broken leg or wing so I took him home and put him in a little cage to rest. Well about 40 minutes passed before I could get back to him and when I returned he was now clinging onto the cage door. Stupid me I opened the door to put some food in and out he flew never to be seen again? We are guessing he just ran into a windshield and laid there on the road in a daze and just needed some time to recover. I sure hope he’s alright?
Aimee was home sick all day with something?? I first took the dogs for a two hour hike at Saint Joris, then went with my buddy Cival to the Bat Caves and did some photography and just got home from a 25 mile mountain bike ride, I am done!!
Hope all is well with everyone, I can sure tell it’s the weekend I never hear from anyone! Bye, Barry
Oct 24, 09 Comments Off on Sponge Brittle Star in Curacao
Good evening my dear friends, are you getting the most out of your weekend?? Our days are spent mostly at the Sea Aquarium and then in the evening’s Aimee rushes home to walk the dogs in what little light we have left. Today at 1:30 my friend Kenji and I went on a dive as we had no more programs for the rest of the day. The water was pretty murky in the shallows plus big waves overhead didn’t help the visibility but we still had a pretty good dive. Aimee and I were just looking at some of the photos I took today and in one photo of some encrusting sponge she spotted a see-thru shrimp that I accidentally took a nice photo of, I never even saw it?? This really seems to happen quite a bit, I shoot something and then get home to find another little treasure in the photo, let’s just call it a bonus!
This is a Sponge Brittle Star that Aimee found on the night we saw the grooved brain corals spawning over in front of Aqua Electra. These sponge brittle stars don’t seem to be affected by light like their cousins the regular brittle stars, those guys are scared of everything! Eva was with us the night we found this, Aimee kept me pretty busy with one cool find after another.
Gotta run, talk to you all tomorrow, Barry
Oct 23, 09 Comments Off on Woman in Bikini Swimming with a Dolphin
Hello gang how was your friday?? It was back to work for me if you can call taking photos of beautiful woman with dolphins work?? Hey it’s tough, I have to stand out in the hot sun! This is our lovely dolphin trainer Michelle who works with Aimee spending a little free time relaxing with Tina. Now it’s not Tina like the ladies name, it’s pronounced Teen-ya, kind of a Spanish name. Michelle and I had made plans to do this little photo shoot in advance today. So as I was shooting I noticed more and more people with cameras joining in next to me and by the time I left we had quite a crowd, I guess they just wanted photos of the dolphin, yeah right!!
Sorry so short guys but my mind is blank tonight!! Have a wonderful weekend, talk to you again tomorrow!!
Sunny Curacao regards, Barry and Aimee
Oct 22, 09 Comments Off on Damselfish Eating and Defending Corals, Curacao
Good evening one and all! Remember weeks back when I sent out this photo?? I told you I thought it was some kind of coral disease?? Well it just so happens that a top coral researcher named Nick Polato saw the photo and immediately contacted me and told me what is really going on here, I couldn’t have been more wrong!!
Nick writes, the story with the damsel fish is that they find a bit of coral they like and peck off the living coral tissue. The exposed skeleton becomes overgrown with algae that the damsel fish like to eat. The fish defend these little farm territories so aggressively that they will even chase off larger herbivores like parrotfish that would quickly clear away the algae (I have definitely had them bite my fingers while working with the corals & once had one hit me right between the eyes…good thing I had a facemask on). Apparently with the decline of larger predatory fish on reefs worldwide, these little guys have become much more abundant and can be a real threat to reef health. The photo you took is a great example, where you have what appears to be a perfectly healthy coral missing tissue only on that patch at the top of the pillar where there is a thick mat of algae growing on the white skeleton. The angry looking three spot damsel fish staring you down in the center of the photo tops it all off! If you want to hear more about these guys check out this piece NPR did on Bonaire last month.
Aimee and I had a wonderful day. I first took Aimee to the bat caves at Saint Joris as she had never been there before and right after our quick tour we then took the dogs walking along the shore collecting driftwood. We found some great wood this morning all waiting to be transformed into something useable. Aimee slipped on a mossy log and fell on her back, I watched it happen but couldn’t do a thing to help, it happened so fast. So needless to say my dear wife is going to be a bit sore and bruised tomorrow. The dogs had a blast this morning chasing each other thru the water until Indi found a leather glove and just wanted to play with that instead. After we got home we headed to the Aquarium for a dive out on the reef. After going thru our photos I realized we really don’t have many pictures of all the different types of coral?? Yeah how is that possible? We have been shooting sponges now for quite awhile but the corals now need to be photographed as well. Our dive was kind of uneventful maybe because we were only looking for certain things to shoot. Once we got home Aimee took a nap while I did 101 things around the house and around town, no time for napping for this boy!
That’s kind of our day in a nutshell it’s back to work tomorrow for both of us. Hope everyone is doing well, there are so many on the list that we just never hear from Please drop us a quick line to let us know you are still out there. It’s off to bed, see you tomorrow, Barry
Oct 21, 09 Comments Off on Diving the Car Pile in Curacao
Hi friends, here’s another fun picture of Mark exploring the Curacao Car Pile or what we are now calling the Junk Pile! I forgot to give you all the link yesterday to the history of this pile-o-rusted-stuff so if you have a moment read this, http://www.the-dive-bus.com/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=342 This is another piece of upside down Curacao history now completely engulfed in corals and sponges making a nice little artificial reef of sorts. I am constantly blown away by how long a tire can last underwater?? This one here has been submerged for around 60 years and it still looks like it have air in it and could be used? This was again found at around 115 feet which unfortunately makes your visits very short but it sure is fun! This is one of those sites you could dive everyday on vacation and never find all the treasures that lay down there. Aimee and I are headed back here tomorrow in our quest to discover new and unusual things so stay tuned for more! Oh yeah, for those of you wondering what is on Marks back, well that’s his rubber chicken that goes everywhere he does, gives you a little hint to the type of fun and crazy guy he is!!
Work was again MEGA busy!! Normally I get home at 4:30 but today I got home at 5:30 that doesn’t happen to often. This is a fall holiday for half or part of the Netherlands, the other half of the country has their vacation starting next week, figure that out if you can?? That’s about it, have a wonderful evening and thanks for tuning in again, Sunny regards, Barry
Oct 20, 09 Comments Off on Giant Excavator Bucket at the Car Pile in Curacao
Good evening all, I’ve been going non-stop all day and finally I can just sit here and relax! Aimee and I left the house at 6:30, I dropped her off at the whale while Inca and I went on our own little adventures. We had an hour to kill before Aimee was done so we first drove to the old castle at Caracas baai and checked on the Geocache that is hidden there. I had gotten some e-mails saying folks couldn’t find it or that it had maybe been stolen again but it was right where it was supposed to be. Next we drove and picked up some driftwood that had been dumped in the desert and then went on a 20 minute hike cutting thorn bushes along the way, it’s amazing how much you can do in an hour! Once we got back home, I then took both dogs for a short walk over by the Aquarium and then back home because of the heat. I then took off to the store and dropped of our laundry and went to a book store to try and find the new issue of Scuba Diver but it’s not here yet. Upon returning home again, I started working on my driftwood toy box that I have been building for weeks now, this project is consuming a whole lot of my wood supply! At noon I met Mark at the World famous Dive Bus Hut for a deep dive to the Car Pile! The dive was really fun!! This was the first major thing we came across at around 110 feet, this is a giant antique Excavator Bucket! I found it ironic that this bucket once used for scooping up large amounts of soil or rock is now filled with beautiful sponges and encrusting corals, it’s kind of fitting isn’t it?? This is really one of the coolest dive spots in Curacao and you can bet I will be spending more time here searching for goodies! I think our maximum depth today was around 118 feet, we swam from rusted object to rusted object and never ran out of things to find. When we surfaced Mark said, “they should call it the Junk Pile” and he’s right it’s just littered with old rusted things of every size and shape, complete cars are hard to find! The rest of my afternoon just flew by and at 4:30 I left the house for a two hour bike ride. I rode by myself for the first hour and was met by friends for the second half, that deep dive kind of killed my riding tonight!
That’s about it, I am going to bed, talk to you all tomorrow, Barry
Oct 19, 09 Comments Off on Banana Tree in Curacao
Hola Amigos!! This one’s for Eva who wanted so badly to see a real Banana Tree with real Banana’s growing so today I went over to my friend Gordys house and took this photo just for her! These real Bananas are about half the size of a store bought Banana and could be the most delicious fruit I have ever had!! They taste nothing like your store bought variety Banana, these real ones are sweet like a Kiwi-fruit and just melt in your mouth and the outside peel or skin is very thin! Here on the island of Curacao they call them Bakoba’s. The down side to owning Banana trees is that they need large amounts of water and from what I was told they grow very fast. Each stalk produces one huge flower cluster and then dies. New stalks then grow from the rhizome. Bananas are the 4th largest harvested fruit in the World, is that amazing or what?? So Eva, I am sorry we never got around to finding you a real banana tree but I will think of you every time I pass this one and will try my hardest to eat as many as I can for you, anything for a friend!
Very busy day at work to say the least, Aimee and I just had dinner and watched the 13th Warrior, it’s off to bed! I’ll be back tomorrow, Barry
Oct 18, 09 Comments Off on Caribbean Tree Frog or Whistling Frog in Curacao
Good evening all, something a little different for you all this evening, this is our noisy little Whistling Tree Frog, Eleutherodactylus johnstonei that we have everywhere on the island, they are only about the size of a dime! As I sit here typing I can hear at least 10 of them outside at this very moment! Eva found this one on our porch when she was here. I then set up the tripod and camera and proceeded to sit there motionless and waited quietly for around 45 minutes for him to again start making noise. The high pitched whistle you hear is caused from them blowing up their little sacks which they do non-stop continuously all night long! When we first got here that sound used to drive me absolutely crazy, (it sounds just like crickets chirping) now we love it!
Not a whole lot else to report, took the dogs for an hour and a half walk this morning, worked on my driftwood furniture and went on a bike ride at 5:00, that was my day!
For those of you asking about the photos I have in Ranger Rick, I found out they will be in the December/January issue, if anyone can pick me up a copy please do! Scuba Diver should be out now, I found the new Sport Diver today but not Scuba Diver. There was an alarming article about Blue Fin Tuna, they could be extinct by 2012!! And 80% of all the ocean fish and mammals could be gone by 2048!! Watch what you buy folks, this is for real!!
Off to bed, talk to you tomorrow, Barry
Oct 17, 09 Comments Off on Strange New Sponge Found in Curacao
Hi friends, here’s a cool new sponge we have never seen before. It is Agelas conifera, also called the octopus sponge (but in this case it is growing erect, while it normally falls sideways). This was found thursday on our big group dive at Playa Kalki at around 50-60 feet. After Aimee called me over and we took this photo I thought to myself how many other divers would even look twice at this? Aimee and I have gotten to where we know if something is out of place or different and that’s the stuff we hunt for, I love the little things that most divers over look. I did again send this photo out to a few well know sponge experts so we will just wait and see what they have to say.
Our dear Eva left Curacao this morning at 8:00 with a big smile on her face! We left for the airport at around 5:30 which is a perfect time to drive around Curacao, no traffic at all!! We sure are going to miss her, dive buddies are hard to find around here believe it or not! I think she had a 6 hour lay over in Miami and will arrive in Denver at 8:00 tonight, that’s a real long day!
Aimee and I are so tired this evening, not even the coffee is working! Have a great weekend, Barry