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 November, 2009
Nov 30, 09 Comments Off on Dying/Bleaching Star Coral, Possible Global Warming
Good evening friends, here’s something we really hate to see, coral that is dying!! The top is still alive but the bottom white section is dead, nothing left but a skeleton of sorts. This could be the start of coral bleaching or one of many different coral diseases, would be difficult to say without a coral scientist right by your side all I know is it’s bad! Little is know about what causes these diseases, how a coral contracts them, and their potential long-term effects on reef systems. They may be caused by infectious pathogens, such as bacteria and fungi, stresses, elevated sea water temperatures and increased ultraviolet radiation, poor nutrition, genetic mutations (noninfectious diseases), or a combination of these and undetermined factors. I haven’t seen this a lot so it’s not real common here but on my last dive I did find five or six small patches like this in a fairly small area so it’s a warning sign of some kind, I will be keeping a close eye on it.
Let’s see what else, oh yeah, the best news of the whole month, my camera got fixed for less than $100!! I’m so happy tonight I can hardly stand it, Aimee and I have already been celebrating with a special meal!! I sent it to a company called Tempe Camera in Arizona you folks with repairs will want to be checking this place out as well!
Tomorrow I am off, have lots to do already and I plan on getting some riding in and finishing this wooden box. Time for bed, have a great evening and thanks for all the great notes!! Barry
Nov 29, 09 Comments Off on Beautiful Sponges at Mushroom Forest
Hello all, I’m finding out now just how much I miss my camera and computer and how much I used them!! The camera is being worked on in a repair facility in Arizona and the computer is on it’s way to the States so it’s out of my hands now!! It seems like forever since I have been out diving on the reef and I can’t even remember when I did my last night dive?
Aimee went to the whale this morning while I took the girls hiking. We had a great morning the only thing missing was Aimee but whales and dolphins come first! I had a borrowed camera with me this morning and shot some new species of snails which I will send for next Thursdays daily. I carted home a nice big piece of driftwood that will make a great top for something, Indi carried an old shoe the whole way back and Inca well she brought back tons of sand, will be needing to clean the car out real soon!
Here’s another shot from when Eva was here and our trip to the Mushroom Forest. This is a great dive spot with beautiful sponge and coral arrangements everywhere! The down side is getting there, you either need a boat or you have to use the water taxi at San Carlos, I recommend doing the boat dive from one of the numerous dive shops that dive here on a daily basis!
That’s about it. have been home with Aimee most of the day doing nothing!! Till tomorrow, Barry
Nov 28, 09 Comments Off on Mother Bottlenose Dolphin with her Baby
Hi all, I have absolutely nothing for you tonight, just a photo of Tela and baby Pasku. I did a Christmas dive today meaning my colleagues wore Santa hats and swam with the dolphins. I was underwater the whole time on scuba. They did a 1, 2 3 count at the surface and down they dove straight towards me (dolphin in the middle) wearing their festive hats, will make a really fun Christmas card. Other than that nothing exciting to report, just another day on a Caribbean island in the middle of the ocean!!
I trust everyone is having a great weekend if not you have tomorrow to start! Sorry so short, Barry
Nov 27, 09 Comments Off on Clubtip Finger Coral
Good evening friends how was your friday?? I normally have to work on fridays but today I had it off because I had to work yesterday instead. I had a pretty eventful day all in all starting with taking the two luckiest dogs on the island for a three hour adventure! We did a long walk this morning on the north coast traveling from one swimming hole to another. I did have me camera but it was to windy to shoot much so I ended up finding more shells and just playing with those while the girls played in the sand.
I am currently on an underwater mission trying to photograph all the different kinds of corals. Yeah you would think after being here for five years and a thousand dives that I would already have that taken care of but that is not the case. This is the ever abundant Clubtip Finger Coral that is found everywhere on the reef!! It can be found in 3 feet of water or all the way down to 160 feet and is again home to thousands of little creature and tiny fish. If you look real close at the photo you will see about half of the polyps are open and about half are closed and don’t ask me why. The yellow stuff behind it and in the middle is Fire Coral which ranks at the bottom of my “favorite corals list”.
I have to go, getting ready to take my Mac over to a friend who is leaving for the States soon, thank goodness for friends! Have a great weekend, Barry
Nov 26, 09 Comments Off on Curacao Reef Scene with a Glasseye Snapper
Happy Thanksgiving to my Americano’s out there I totally forgot about mentioning it yesterday!! Like I have said before living here you tend to start forgetting all the US holidays and just start celebrating with the Dutch and the locals on their holidays instead! We just got home from a fun evening out sitting along the waters edge under a bunch of palm trees eating a traditional Thanksgiving meal cooked by our friend Agusto at his restaurant. We all ate way too much but man was it ever delicious and I think Aimee even brought some treats home to the girls!!
Your photo this evening is a very common reef scene that we see on every dive we make. These Glasseye Snappers just hang out in one spot under an overhang all day long and only at night will they come out to feed. These fish are very approachable and appear to be completely unafraid of divers, it’s almost like they are in a trance during the day.
I’m full and I am tired, it’s off to bed!! Enjoy the holiday, Barry
Nov 25, 09 Comments Off on Tiny Caribbean Striped Snails
Hi friends, as promised here is another species of snails that are common on Curacao. I found these today at the Curacao Sea Aquarium out along the edge of the ocean in a giant tide-pool. These are again about the size of your little finger nail and have really beautiful black and brown stripes and what’s most amazing is no two are alike! I searched and searched for a name but again found nothing so if you know something I don’t or can point me in the right direction please do. These little beauties seem to live just above the tide line and are out there in great numbers, in fact I had to really watch where I was walking as they covered almost everything! I did watch as a few big waves came in and completely flooded these guys but they held fast to the rock and not a one was lost! So this is your snail photo for the week still lots more varieties to come so stay tuned.
Thanks to everyone for the compliments on today’s seashell photo, I think in general everyone just loves shells!! I was thinking today that it’s a good thing I don’t live in a big shell area otherwise I would be collecting them day and night and probably not doing as much photography!
A friend of ours contacted me today and said she will take our broken Mac to the States and mail it for us, that made my day!! Aimee had the day off she took the dogs biking this morning along the north coast and then spent the rest of the day around the house. Well that’s about it for tonight, off to bed.
Another day in Paradise, Barry
Nov 24, 09 Comments Off on Tiny Curacao Seashells from the Seashore
Good evening all, look what I found today at the beach, it was tiny sea shell heaven!! I found all of these in about 10 minutes of crawling on all fours and yes I got real wet but it was worth it! Once I had them all in hand I carefully rinsed them and laid them all in the sand as you see here. I then unpacked my tripod and camera and got all ready to take the photo when I noticed that 1/4th of my shells were gone!! As I stared in disbelief and looked closer my beautiful little shells were moving at top speed back to the waters edge and with closer inspection I found a little blue crab inside each one!! So many of the shells you see here did not come home with me with us today. The photo I originally had was really cool but after trying and trying to keep those little crabs still long enough for a picture I finally just said, go then, be free!! The rough waves must be the main reason there are so many little shells right now but you really have to stop and look carefully to find them. Some of the shells that ran away were really spectacular and I hated to see them go but hey it was fun finding them! We ended up being out there around three hours today and twice had to run for shelter under a big rock overhang from passing storms, tis the season! I brought home two very muddy and very happy little dogs this morning after a nice shower and a little snack they slept the rest of the day.
The rest of my day consisted of trying to figure out what to do with a dead Mac! My friend Michael Copini has been such a great help! Today he opened up the sick Mac and was able to save all my old pictures and programs onto one of my many 500GB mini hard drives, so the good news is I haven’t lost any photos! And just to let you know what a great guy he is, he sent me home with his back-up Macbook Pro for me to use until I get mine fixed or repaired, talk about a great friend!! My question to my locals out there tonight is, “anyone going to the States any time soon”?? Would pay you to take my Mac and send it to the repair center for me, I don’t want to ship it from here! I am currently sitting here playing with the new Mac and just down-loaded some photos from today. Again thanks a bunch Michael for all your help at least I can continue with the daily for now.
I did go for a fast one hour mountain bike ride but am finding out that those weeks of sickness and being busy have caused me to slip into out-o-shapeness! That’s about it, still have tons of Mac stuff to do tonight, talk to you tomorrow.
Regards from windy and rainy Curacao, Barry
Nov 23, 09 Comments Off on Eleutherodactylus johnstonei, Caribbean Tree frog
Good evening, by request again here is another shot of our little Tree Frogs except this time a side profile! I found this one on our porch again in the same plant as last time, could be the same one but not for sure?? As I sit here I can hear two or three right outside the window just a chirping away! Many here call them whistling frogs but I think the real name is Caribbean Tree Frog or Eleutherodactylus johnstonei as they are better known throughout the scientific community.
We had a nice little rain shower here this morning and most of the day it was overcast. Strong winds are currently driving big waves into the coast and really stirring up the water for the divers hopefully tomorrow it will calm down a bit!!
I forgot to tell you all about this driving goof-ball I ran into yesterday. We have this really terrible parking lot at the Aquarium, it’s all dirt and rocks and littered with glass bottles. This parking lot is mostly used for employees but other folks use it as well. As I came to work I was right behind this super ugly Hummer with a lady driving. She turned into our dirt parking lot and stopped and then tried to back that big monster up into a little spot between two other parked cars! She tried and tried and tried and I was now boxed in and there were now about seven other cars waiting for her to park this beast! Now folks picture this, it’s still early so 80% of the lot is empty, if fact if she would have just drove straight in and down 3 more spaces there was nothing! But no this crazy lady had her mind set on this spot and she just kept on trying! Now the honking and name calling started from many other vehicles from behind me, I was just to shocked wondering how in the world she was going to get that thing in-between those two cars! Finally after almost four minutes of trying she gave up and was forced to park 20 feet away in another spot!! Now are you ready for this, are you sitting down, she gets out of her Hummer dressed in workout clothes and was headed for the gym across the street, geez talk about one lazy human being, she had so many people pissed off it wasn’t even funny and never once acknowledged any of them, I just shook my head in disbelief, it’s a crazy world we live in!!
Till tomorrow, Barry
Nov 22, 09 Comments Off on Atlantic Gray Cowrie Found on the Superior Producer
Good evening friends how was your Sunday?? I took the dogs to the ocean for three hours this morning! It was so windy and the waves were so big that even at Saint Joris this morning the dogs and I had a hard time wading thru what is normally fairly calm water. I took my camera and tripod and found a bunch of new snails to shoot this morning, it’s really amazing just how many there are now that I am actually looking for them. So as I set up the camera and played with my snails the dogs kept themselves busy chewing on everything and chasing each other all over the beach. Indi found the same leather glove she had two weeks ago, she must have had it stashed somewhere?? She also found a child’s bike tire and raced around with that in her mouth for at least 30 minutes!! She kept bringing that disgusting thing to me all dripping in slobber and covered in sand and wanted to play tug-o-war with it, I had to rinse it off first every time! There were a lot of tiny little shells this morning all over the beach and I mean tiny, most were about the size of your pinky fingernail! I did take a few shots of some of them laying in the sand but haven’t seen them yet so maybe that photo is headed your way soon. I once again found out that Sunday is a terrible day to take the dogs anywhere as every other person with dogs on the island is also out for that one day of the week, it was not fun getting back to the car.
I am really missing the Mac, it’s so weird to not have it around? I couldn’t do a whole lot today around the house because the neighbors were home and wanted to just relax on their Sunday and have to hear electric sanders and chop-saws a blazing! This means I got nothing done on my wood box. I did go shopping and at 3:00 took off on a one hour bike ride. It seemed like it had been forever since I had been riding, I got busy with some photos and then got sick but I am back riding again.
Your photo was taken a few weeks ago at night on the sunken ship the Superior Producer. We had just got down to the ship when I found this little treasure just crawling around this beautiful sponge. These Atlantic Gray Cowries are very common and one of my favorite things to find and to watch. They move around fairly fast and are completely unaffected by our lights. During the day they hide and at night they come out to feed and hopefully they don’t cross the path of an octopus who considers these a delicious snack!!
It’s off to bed, good luck with your Monday, see ya, Barry
Nov 22, 09 Comments Off on Baby Dolphin Playing with a Target Ball in Curacao
Good morning from Curacao. For those of you that remember, baby Pasku was born last year on Christmas day, “our little Christmas miracle” and soon he will be one year old!! This was him yesterday playing with a target ball that Junior threw out into the water to get his attention. The goal of the ball is to get them to stop what ever they were doing and to bring the ball back to the trainer but in this case we couldn’t get the ball back! Pasku had so much fun with that thing just pushing it all over the lagoon doing loop after loop, most of us were just laughing but Junior didn’t think it was so funny. Finally he lost control of it and the ball got pushed into the fence, he then swam over to Junior as if to say “did you see me, didn’t I do great, I should get a fish for that”? Baby dolphins are so great and this one here is by far the smartest one I have ever seen to date. Pasku has no fear of anything and can do just about as many tricks as the adults, he’s really a super-star!!
I heard my Mac is bad shape, hopefully tomorrow I will hear back on exactly what is wrong? I haven’t had that thing very long and have always been careful with it so pretty disappointed all in all!!
Aimee just left to go help with the whale when she gets home I will take the dogs somewhere for a morning adventure! Have a great Sunday, Barry
Nov 20, 09 Comments Off on Double Dolphin Tailwalk at Dolphin Academy
Hi friends, just a quick note to say hi and that all is well. I worked today and it was pretty busy not to mention super hot and humid! So far we have had a pretty mild storm season much less than last year but we are still having some pretty rough seas so there must be something going on in the Caribbean. At 3:15 I took off from work and raced to Penn Resort where I did a crazy rough dive! The owners of this new proposed hotel were showing up at 4:00 so I had to hurry and swim out and place some buoy markers before they got there. The ocean was so rough making my exit and entry something only a certified crazy man would or should do, my momma and Aimee would not have approved! There’s only one spot you can get in and it’s behind this big chunk of concrete that has partially fallen in the water, it’s the only thing separating you from these big in coming waves. So one by one I counted as wave after wave hit this thing and sent a wall of water over my head and then before a new set rolled in I dove under and kicked as hard as I could and off I went with three yellow buoys in hand. Aimee and I had already marked where these buoys were to be tied yesterday so thankfully all I had to do now was to find those markers. I got a bit sea-sick today out there floating in those waves man was it rough but eventually one by one I found the markers, dove down and tied a floating buoy to them. Just as I finished the owners showed up giving them the visual confirmation they needed and with an OK signal from land I was out of there! The exit wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, I timed the waves perfectly and boy was I ever glad to be out!
Aimee just made a great dinner and I still feel like my head is spinning, going to bed! Till tomorrow, Barry
Nov 19, 09 Comments Off on Seahorse on the Superior Producer, Curacao
Good evening folks, what a busy day!! After getting up at 4:45 and sending out the daily mail I took Aimee and the dogs via the car and dropped them off at the salt ponds and they walked five miles back to the house thru the desert. After dropping them off I drove to the entrance of the new Hyatt Regency and met with a man named Richard who is the designer/architect of the new 350 room Hyatt Regency that is currently underway and being built. We jumped in his car and off we went on a fun morning of getting to see this new project up close and personal. We first went to a big mountain where we parked and took off by foot on a freshly made “Curacao style hiking trail”, meaning it was wide enough to drive a truck up. The view on this mountain was spectacular, you could see for miles in every direction! At the top of the mountain the trail ended and this is where I may come in, they want the trail finished. The goal is to start now where the trail left off and take the hikers to some caves and then back to where we started, kind of a big loop. Richard who claims he is in his 70’s walked so fast up the trail I could hardly keep up, this guy is in great shape! Besides the trail on the mountain he also showed me other areas in need of nature trails as well but first we need to get some aerial shots if possible to get a better idea of where to put in trail. On the way out I had my photo taken for a security pass card that needs to worn at all times and by 10:30 I was back at home.
At home I quickly put the underwater camera together and loaded my dive gear and off we went both Aimee and I to Penn Resort to place some buoy markers out in the ocean. Aimee stayed on shore holding one end of a 100 meter line and I was at the other end in the water. I swam out first 40 meters from shore and placed an underwater maker, then one at 50, and another at 60. The owners of the resort want a visual to see what distance looks the best from shore for a new proposed breakwater. For those of you asking what a breakwater is, that’s when you place big boulders out in the water to help protect the resort you are building and to give your guests a calm swimming area without having to worry about the pounding waves. Does that make any sense? After placing the buoys I swam back to shore and this time Aimee handed me the camera. While here I wanted to get some better shots of that strange sponge we found here on the last trip, it was still there and looked great.
I think we got home around 1:00, I then got my broken Mac and took it to a friend who is going to see what he can do? While out I also went in search of some new trail building tools, gloves and surveying tape. Next on my list I drove all the way back out to the new Hyatt Regency and picked up my new pass just in case I go out there on Sunday to start trail building. I finished my two hour drive with a stop at the grocery store and finally back home where it feels like I went non-stop all day!
Your seahorse was found on the Superior Producer the other night, in fact we saw two, they were both together but very hard to photograph.
That’s my crazy day, time for dinner, till tomorrow, Barry
Nov 19, 09 Comments Off on Little Yellow Butterfly Hiding from the Rain
Good morning all, I came home yesterday to a broken computer, my Macbook Pro will not start up at all?? I was on line all night trying every known trick in the book to re-start this thing like removing the battery and pressing the power button for 10 seconds then putting the battery back in but nothing seems to be working? So I will have to find out if there are any Mac experts here on the island today, the good news is I have 95% of everything backed up on a portable hard drive, I see now why that’s so important! I use the Mac for downloading any and all new photos as our old Dell just won’t recognize any kind of new USB related connections so be patient if you don’t hear from me in a few days, I will try to get this Mac repaired as fast as I can.
I have a very busy day ahead. At 8:00 I am meeting with the owners of the new multi million dollar Hyatt Hotel that is going up at the entrance to Spanish Waters, they want to hire me to build a hiking trail in the desert behind the hotel for the guests. Also Aimee and I need to go back to Pen Resort and measure from shore out into the ocean 40, 50 and 60 meters and place floating buoys for the new proposed breakwater project, that could be difficult depending on how rough the sea is to day.
This was literally the last photo I shot with my D-300 before it decided it didn’t want to play anymore as well? Geez what’s going on with all my electronics lately?? I took this just as the sun was coming up and just moments after a hard morning rain, this little butterfly was just hanging upside down waiting for the rain to stop. There are times during the year when I have seen these little fragile butterflies flying in numbers across the ocean on their way to or coming back from Venezuela, that’s 30 plus miles, how do they ever make it??
That’s all for now, talk to you when I can, Barry
Nov 17, 09 Comments Off on Cerion Land Snail Shells, Common in Curacao
Good evening friends, feeling much better today, I took the dogs on a two hour hike along the shores of Saint Joris bay this morning equipped with a camera, tripod and a macro lens. I had so many replies about the last snail photo I sent out a few days ago that I figured what the heck send some more. In fact two different readers asked me how many different snails do we have on the island, my answer to that question, a lot!! I think what I am going to do is each week starting now send you one new and different species of snail, let’s just see how many I can find, might be kind of fun?? Well this is hands down the most common of all the Curacao snails, they cover everything in the desert and I am not kidding! There are so many in fact that wherever you walk in the desert the ground is white with empty shells! They cling to every rock, blade of grass, tree, aluminum can, and cactus in the desert, it’s really quite an amazing sight. These are mainly land snails and seem to stay dormant until it rains then they are really busy walking and climbing all over everything! To my amazement the locals don’t use the empty shells for anything, I could think of 20 different arts and crafts these things would be great for because the shells are hard as rock!! The empty shells that lay on the ground are a favorite shell of the hermit crabs but only for the babies as the shell itself is about the same size as you see it here in the photo.
I had a fast paced day of doing so many odds and ends. The Scuba Diver magazine finally arrived here in Curacao so that means you all should be able to find in anywhere in the States now so get out there and grab your copy, the helicopter shot with Mark is awesome!! I worked on my driftwood wood for about an hour until I was sweating so bad I had to go take another shower!
That’s about it for tonight, I am tired and off to bed! Take care, Barry
Nov 16, 09 Comments Off on Crazy Water Reflections
Hi friends, it was back to work for yours truly today and still not feeling 100%! Curacao is really hot and humid right now. I’ve been having to carry a spare dry shirt just about everywhere I go because I am soaked just walking from the car to work! Scored another fun crazy water shot for my lovers of modern art out there, it’s one of those “you either like it or you don’t”, I don’t think it can grow on you!! For some strange unexplained reason I am now drawn to these bizarre photos and find myself actively searching them out and have been known to go to extremes in search of them.
Wish I had something exciting for you all tonight but my life hasn’t been to exciting lately!! I am off tomorrow will probably take the dogs somewhere fun in the morning then get that wooden box finished. Sorry so short and boring, Barry