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 December, 2009
Dec 31, 09 Comments Off on Baby Iguana in Curacao
Good evening all, it’s 7:00 and the fireworks have already begun! Inca has been kind of scared all day and hides every time she hears one go off and Indi just barks. This morning after my two hour Saint Joris fun walk as I was driving home, some kids tossed a firecracker near the car at a turn and Inca jumped into my lap while I was driving, she was scared to death!! If you have never had a 35 pound dog in your lap while your driving down a busy road your missing out, I was laughing so hard I had to pull over!! My day went really fast for some reason, the only real thing I accomplished was going on an hour and a half bike ride and the walk with the dogs this morning.
I have another request for everyone this evening. Are any of you going to the States soon or know someone that is coming, I need someone to bring my repaired laptop back for me, it got held up in shipping and won’t be delivered in time to our friend Emily who will be here on the 4th. If anyone can help, I will make it up to you!!
Here’s a baby Iguana I found in our back yard last night and I saw him again today but was unable to get very close. Last night he let me get very close, he just hung there on that branch blending in motionless. His tail which you can’t see is about as long as his body and I noticed it was turning brown. These young iguanas spend all their time hiding in bright green foliage and if they don’t move they are almost impossible to see during the day!! I will be keeping an eye on this one so maybe I can send you more shots in the near future.
It sounds like World War 2 outside, our cat is hiding under one of the beds, first time she has been in years!! I have to go, Happy New Year, best wishes, Barry and Aimee
Dec 31, 09 Comments Off on Common Curacao Land/Tree Snail
Good morning all, I was wiped out after another unbelievable busy day at the Aquarium yesterday and just had no energy for blogging. About half way thru the day yesterday I started feeling a whole lot better and this morning it’s like I never had a cold, that was a fast moving virus?? I was up pretty late last night in my little home-made studio shooting more sea urchin pictures. One of my lights died completely and I still can’t figure out a way to hide the hole on the top of the urchins to keep the light from coming thru, oh if we all had such problems right?? The fireworks were pretty much non-stop last night and tonight is the night of all nights, from space it will look like Curacao is being bombed!
Like a good boy here is your weekly snail shot. These are my personal favorites, I love their faces they have these really cool little black eyes. These are also the land snails that we have all around our house and when it rains they come out by the hundreds. Each morning after a rain we go out and pick them up from any of our walking areas (like around the car and porch) and place them back in a safe spot, it kills me to step on them. These land snails are around a half an inch in length and are found in all different colors and I have never found one with a complete spiral on the top of the shell, they are all broke? If your out hiking in the desert around here you can find these snails in almost every bush or tree and the empty shells can be found all over the ground with a hermit crab inside, so nothing goes to waste.
Alright I have to get moving, have a great day and a safe New Years tonight!! I will talk to you all next year, thanks for a great 2009 best wishes, Barry and Aimee
Dec 29, 09 Comments Off on Glowing Sea Urchin with Flowers
Good evening all, cough, cough, sniff, sniff, yes I still have a dumb cold. I stayed home all day doing close to nothing and trying to lay down but find it impossible to sleep during the day! While snuggling my camera in bed I thought why not finally do something with the piles of sea urchins I have laying everywhere, I’ve been saving them for a day just like this. Every time Aimee and I go to the beach we are on the lookout for these dried up urchins but most of them are always broken or the birds have cracked the shells looking for a snack. So today I rounded them all up and proceeded to check each one in a dark room with a flashlight for the one with the best glowing color. I found out that most of the ones we have are not going to work for this type of shot as they are to dark but will be nice as a collage instead. I spent about an hour setting this shot up, in my mind it seemed like it was going to be so easy but I quickly found out there was more to it than meets the eye. Anyways something a bit different for you all, I know you all get tired of being underwater and want more topside stuff and I do keep a list of all the requests I receive.
I wish I had something exciting to tell you but it was just one of those days!! Have a great evening all!!
Sunny Curacao regards, Barry
Dec 29, 09 Comments Off on Damselfish Garden at San Juan, Curacao
Good morning friends, someone was kind enough to give me a cold for Christmas so I am a bit under the weather this morning and went to bed early last night.
Remember a month ago or so I sent a photo of a pillar coral with green alga on top?? I had told you I thought it was a dying colony of coral or some kind of coral disease? Well here’s the exact same thing except this time it’s on a big colony of grooved brain coral. See the little damselfish at the top of the coral head? He did this damage to this beautiful coral, it’s called a “Damselfish Garden. My friend Nick who is a coral expert explains below just what your looking at, it’s very interesting so read on. 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.
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1117 I found this scene again on my first dive to San Juan a few weeks back. I have been telling everyone that my dive there wasn’t the greatest but in fact I captured some really cool pictures from there that morning, I guess I didn’t realize just how many. When I was shooting this I watched this little fish chase off many other bigger fish who thought they could stop and graze on what seemed like an unprotected buffet of algae, boy did he ever teach them a lesson and me as well! The closer I got to his little farm the crazier he got! As I passed he came up and bit my wetsuit twice, I am not kidding when I say these fish have no fear!!
Another Lionfish was found by our Sea Aquarium staff and is now on display at the aquarium, if you haven’t seen one yet come on it! Have a wonderful day, Barry
Dec 27, 09 Comments Off on Yellow Tube Sponges at Mushroom Forest, Curacao
Good evening, I am finally sitting down and relaxing after a very long day!! I left the house at 7:00 on my bike and didn’t get back home till 9:00. I started out on all the fun trails around here then headed to the salt ponds, next to Montana, then Saint Joris, Coral Tabak, Canoa, and back home on the ring, it was a long trip. After I got home I quickly showered and ate breakfast then loaded the dogs and took them back to Saint Joris for a two hour hiking adventure. It was a beautiful morning and I didn’t have my camera. I did however find some great driftwood and my first ever hand carved ore, it’s really cool and looks very old. The tide was pretty high this morning meaning I got very wet walking around the rocky shores and the dogs had to swim the whole way. For us the easiest way to get to some of these remote driftwood areas is to just walk in the water around this very rocky shoreline otherwise you would have to risk walking at the top of a very slippery goat trail, I’ll take the water. The rest of the day I went shopping, worked on my driftwood box and most importantly I went over to pick up my camera which arrived yesterday evening!! Our friends Sara and Ann are here for only a week but brought us all kinds of goodies from the States, it was like a second Christmas!! I am so happy to have this camera back and can hardly wait to start using it again, we have to make up for lost time!!
Your photo this evening is yet another from our scenic dive at the famous Mushroom Forest. I think this is a cluster of Yellow Tube Sponges, if anyone thinks different please let me know! I am quickly finding out just how hard it is to identify sponges, they come in so many colors and shapes!! The little darker brown sponge bowl off to the left at the base is a little Touch-Me Not sponge.
Hope you all are having a wonderful holiday season, our friends at home are under a ton of snow!! Gotta go, peace out, Barry
Dec 26, 09 Comments Off on Queen Conch Eyes
Good evening all, as I type fireworks are going off by the thousands in a near by neighborhood, the noise is deafening! I brought home a schedule of firework events that will happen starting tonight thru the first, you wouldn’t believe the list!! These island folks love this stuff! Aimee and Indi are out on the balcony watching the show while Inca and I are hiding from it all downstairs, seen one you’ve seen them all!
Work was insane busy again and will be for the next two weeks, these are typically our busiest times!! I had thoughts of bike riding after work but came home so tired from being out in the hot sun all day that I just crashed! It’s the thought that counts!
Here’s something I have never sent out before, these are the eyes of a Queen Conch. I would say for those of you who don’t know what a conch is to just Google “Queen Conch” it may make more sense to you. In short a conch is a large shell with a very cool mollusk inside and these are his cool eyes. I laid on the sand forever waiting for him to come more out but he never did, I am sure he didn’t trust me. Many of you over the years have traveled to some island paradise and went to a restaurant that served conch fritters or conch soup. Unfortunately this practice is now wiping them out of many areas around the World because of over-harvesting, like the Bahamas for example! The shells are prized for their beautiful pink colors inside but mostly just the animal is removed and the shells tossed in a big pile, it really seems like such a waste. We have these conchs in all our dolphin lagoons. The conchs keep the alga to a minimum and are the perfect house-keepers, without them things would be a mess.
The noise has finally ended, it’s going to be one noisy island for the next few weeks! I’m out, Barry
Dec 25, 09 Comments Off on Baby Dolphin Turns One Year Old Today in Curacao!
Merry Christmas Everyone, I trust you all had a great day!! Today we celebrated Pasku’s first birthday!! At around 5:30am a year ago today our little Christmas miracle was born!! For those of you who follow my daily blog you recognize Junior holding the PASKU #1 cake, he is pretty much responsible for the well being of Tela and Pasku and has worked his butt off for the past year in training baby Pasku. And we must not forget our beautiful Zenzi holding the other cake, on the days when Junior is off she keeps the wheels of learning turning and works with both Tela and Pasku throughout the day. Tela and baby Pasku are now doing all the open ocean dives as well. To see baby Pasku out in the big ocean with no gates or fences, just his momma there to keep him safe is really an incredible site! When out in the open ocean Tela has been teaching Pasku how to catch flounders and fish but so far Pasku just watches but you can bet he is learning everything he is seeing.
So lets see, we got up at 6:30 and wasted no time in opening up presents as I had to go to work at 7:30. Under the tree or should I say next to the tree was a beautiful Cressi dive luggage bag!! That was my big gift from Aimee and it’s really great! So if I get lucky this year and actually go diving somewhere else I have the bag to carry everything in! The dogs both had stockings and quickly picked a tasty bone and ran off with it not to be seen again for an hour. Aimee was off all day she went on a nice hike this morning and then took a nice long deserved nap! Our party last night was really great as well, our friend Rob worked his magic at the grill most of the evening.
Enjoy the rest of your day, Barry
Dec 24, 09 Comments Off on Fallen Colony of Pillar Coral Still Alive
Hi all, we just got home from watching a great movie called Avatar in 3-D!! It was non-stop excitement from start to finish! I swear every movie is getting better and better, the special effects in this are out of this world, no pun intended, you guys have to see it!!
I was just sitting here thinking that tomorrow is Christmas, it just doesn’t seem like it. We are going to a fun employee party tonight at 7:30 and then unfortunately I have to work tomorrow while Aimee gets to stay home. I went over to a friends this morning and installed a driftwood towel hanger that I made for her, it looked pretty good once it was up. Also the driftwood box that I have been working on so much will finally be going to it’s new home as well some time next week, will take some photos before it goes.
Here’s a very interesting photo, this is a large colony of Pillar Coral that I assume was knocked over by the monster waves from hurricane Omar last year as it passed thru. Those waves were so big that pretty much anything in 20 feet of water was destroyed or re-located. This beautiful colony of Pillar Coral is supposed to be standing straight up but has fallen over but is still very much alive!! Many corals can be placed back in their upright positions but this one was just too big and heavy!! So what’s going to happen to it now?? Well if you look closely you can see lumps starting to form. Each lump will eventually grow into a pillar of it’s own and the base should once again fuse itself to the ocean floor creating an even stronger foot or hold for the next storm. I found this specimen at San Juan and like a few of the other shots I took I want to return in a years time to see the progress.
I guess that’s it, have a great Christmas eve and super fun day tomorrow!! Merry Christmas all thanks for another great year!! I’ll be back tomorrow, best wishes, Barry, Aimee, Inca, Indi and yes the cat!
Dec 23, 09 Comments Off on Southern Stingrays
Good evening friends, boy did we ever have a busy day at Dolphin Academy!! Today was as busy as it gets, we were pretty much fully booked on all swims and encounters all day. The hardest part of the day was dealing with the gale force winds and monster waves that rolled in every second of the day, it made taking pictures very entertaining! I always get a big kick out of watching our guests jump into the lagoons for a dolphin swim with the waves crashing over the rocks, the rocks stop the waves but it’s still pretty rough in there, they were real troopers today!!
Here’s some more Stingrays for you all this evening, something I get a lot of requests for but never seem to take the time to shoot. There are four Southern Stingrays in this photo. One is at the bottom of the photo buried under the sand, the other three are swimming around. Remember a few weeks back I sent you a photo of just the eye of a stingray? Well the one buried in the sand was my model, he figured he was well enough hidden that I couldn’t see him, boy was he wrong! These big rays love to cover themselves in sand and sometimes the only thing showing is their eyes, its really cool. This was shot inside our one and only Animal Encounters at the Curacao Sea Aquarium, you can also see the big antique ships anchor laying in the sand in the background and we also have old canons as well.
Aimee and I are both off tomorrow but I have to work Christmas and the day after, yes it kind of stinks but they give us extra pay for working holidays. That’s it for my day, I hear South Dakota is bracing itself for a big winter storm, send us photos!! Be back tomorrow, Barry
Dec 22, 09 Comments Off on Nerita tessellata, Checkered Nerite Snails in Curacao
Good evening. I just got reminded that I was supposed to be sending a different snail photo out each week until I ran out of ones to find! Well if you remember a few weeks back I sent you a photo of a bunch of red nerite snails on a rock, these are what I call the black and white nerite snails. Today because the ocean was so rough these snails were in great abundance on top of every single rock that was above the water line. And when I say above the water line I mean just inches above it but still getting covered by water with each in-coming wave. I didn’t touch these at all or arrange them in any way this is how they are found, they just hold tight to the rocks. These snails know that when waves are passing over they are to stay put, it’s like they say, “curiosity killed the snail”!
I had a very busy day today!! I first took the dogs to the ocean where I took your snail photo and we ended up hiking around there for around two and a half hours. I found another snail that is along the shores by the millions but they are so tiny and very dark, none of the pictures I took seemed to get me very excited but I will keep trying!! After I got home I took off for hours of grocery shopping! All the stores here will be closed the 25th and 26th so I am stocking up now! Here in Curacao you have to go to two or three different stores to get what you need, it’s really frustrating! So today I went to three different ones which killed around three hours and three hundred guilders!!
At around 2:00 I got a call from Mark from the World famous Dive Bus Hut and he said, “you need to come down here as soon as you can, we have a present for you”. Well I don’t know many folks that can resist that kind of an invitation so I quickly ate my lunch and took off to see what goodies awaited? When I got there Suzy handed me this very big wrapped present, it was around 20 by 27 inches!! Instantly I could tell from years of wrapping stuff that it was something in a frame?? She said either wait till Christmas or open it now, did she just say open it now?? That’s the only thing my brain heard anyways!! I shredded that thing so fast and was speechless at what I saw. Stay tuned tomorrow and I’ll tell you the rest of the story!! Just kidding! It was from a man I only met once named Jim Jorgensen, he was the other diver with Mark who jumped out of the helicopter with all their dive gear on. Remember that photo?? Well this guy sent Mark and I both the most beautiful framed picture, it has the original Scuba Diver Magazine cover at the top left then two other photos on the right of Mark and Jim in the helicopter and below the original two page spread of both of them jumping out of the helicopter with a beautiful black plaque at the bottom, it’s unreal!! I will send you all a photo! Once again my faith in the human race is restored, what a gift, thank you so much Jim if your reading this that was over the top!!!
I did a quick one hour bike ride with a friend this evening it was fun but man oh man was it ever windy! We had the biggest waves of the year today, it looked like mini-Omar was here for a visit! That’s it for my day, Aimee went out to eat with friends but is bringing me ribs back soon. Be back tomorrow, Barry
Dec 21, 09 Comments Off on Grooved Brain Coral with Elephant Ear Sponge
Good evening once again. Yes it’s time for your daily dose of the underwater World from a little island called Curacao! This is really something unique that I have never seen before. This is a large piece of Grooved Brain Coral with a bright orange Elephant Ear Sponge growing right in the middle of it! How cool is that?? This is something I want to go back to each year to see just how much it has grown, I would love this same shot with the orange sponge just a little bigger filling the hole a bit more, or is that asking to much?? I found this a few weeks back when Aimee and I went to San Juan on my first ever dive there.
Well Christmas is now just days away! Living here makes it so hard to get into the Holiday spirit, the sun is shining and everyone is running around in swimwear and wearing flip-flops!! We do have our little fake tree up and it’s all decorated and we have our stockings hanging but it’s just not the same without a little snow!!
Well, I just don’t have much for you all tonight, it was just another day in Curacao! Dinner is smelling good, I am going to go check it out, see you tomorrow, Barry
Dec 20, 09 Comments Off on Christmas Dive at the Dive Bus Hut, Curacao
Hey guys, it was just another normal day in Curacao, if you call dressing up like Santa’s Elf’s and decorating tanks normal that is!! I first took the hound dogs for a two hour trail cleaning bonanza and again just like the last trail cleaning day, I did all the work, those dogs are no help at all! This time I cleaned the steep main trail that heads up to Jan Thiel. Last night when I rode up it I passed one of my co-workers pushing her bike because the trail was so rocky and I told her tomorrow there will be a surprise for you! I know what a nice guy, but hey someone on this island has to keep our trails looking good! After I got back home I went to the Dive Bus Hut and picked up Marks tank and BC and took it back to my house where I spent the next hour decorating it for today’s festivities! I used around 50 zip ties, 36 feet of colored decorations and countless ornaments! At 11:00 I met Mark and Suzy and around 15 other divers all participating in today’s annual Christmas Fun Dive at the World famous Dive Bus Hut. The dive itself was really fun but to my disappointment it was overcast and the water was pretty murky, both things a photographer with a wide angle lens doesn’t need when trying to take Christmas Photos. Before the actual dive Mark had the whole group kneel on the sand at around 25 feet and sing Christmas songs, that was just down right hilarious! The group that guessed what song Mark was singing first won, and now that I think about it I am not sure what they won?? Your photo this evening is of Mark with his famous chicken hanging on his tank taking a photo Miss Santa, I think it’s safe to say fun was had by all!! After the dive we did a present game with everyone at a big table. In short you had to roll a dice and if you rolled a six you were able to pick any gift from the table and I learned immediately why I have never been to a Casino! Once all the gifts were gone, they started rolling again this time if you rolled a one you had to give one of your gifts away and if you rolled a six again you could take any gift from any other person and so on and so forth, again I now know why I am not in any way drawn to Casinos or why I don’t buy lottery tickets, I stink! It was a fun afternoon, I spent the rest of the day cleaning cameras and gear at home.
So that’s what I did today, like I said just another normal day in Curacao!! Barry
Dec 19, 09 Comments Off on Small Mound of Mountainous Star Coral
Good evening friends, I don’t have much for you tonight just a super nice specimen of Mountainous Star Coral. This was a fairly small colony but it was just beautiful and very colorful! I found this out on our reef a few days back and just couldn’t believe that I had never seen it before?? Most of these I find are more of a greenish color but this one was really orange and stood around 4 feet tall. The ocean currents are raging here right now, the worst I have seen all year and bringing up cold water from the deep!!
Tomorrow I am doing a first ever Christmas Dive with the good folks from the Dive Bus hut, it should be a great time.
All is good, I did a fast 45 minute loop after work on the bike and if I have time will try to ride more again tomorrow. Have a wonderful weekend, Barry
Dec 18, 09 Comments Off on It’s Scooby Doo! Swollen Face From Ants or Bee’s
Good evening all, Aimee here along with my “fat-faced-dog”, or as Barry calls her, “Scooby Doo”! Yes, and believe it or not this photo was taken more than one hour later after a vet visit and a IV steroid injection! Just imagine what she looked like when I picked her up on the trail? Now, I understand you basically know the story; Barry and the dogs were on the trail working, I was at the Aquarium, and got this panicked phone call that said “we have an Indi emergency, you have to take her to the vet right now!” Ok, now those are the words no pet owner wants to hear, especially this paranoid mamma. At this particular time as well, our car was at the shop, so I was only on the bike. I quickly dropped everything I was doing, begged a friend for the keys to her jeep and ran out of there. Barry said her face was humongous and I was mostly worried about her air pipe becoming restricted from the swelling. We were not sure what she got in to, either bees or ants, there are plenty of both out on the trail. Well, when I picked her up her eyes were only slits, she could barely open them at all. So, I called the vet and met him at his clinic (on a Sunday morning), he checked her out and decided to give an IV injection and sent us home. Barry kept an eye on her all day and by the next morning, she was back to new and looking for something else to get into! She is definitely our “busy one”, the next day actually the lid was left off the dog food bucket (little did Barry know), I came home an hour later and said, “hmmm, Indi sure looks bloated”. Then I went upstairs and found the source! Let’s just say there was lots of moaning and sleeping for her the rest of the evening. Well, that is the dog saga for the week, she sure keeps us on our toes. The adventures never end. Hope everyone has a great weekend. Although it’s almost Christmas, we are still barefoot!
Dec 17, 09 Comments Off on Giant Mound of Mountainous Star Coral, Curacao
Good evening friends, first off I wanted to say I am having a few problems with my www.coralreefphotos.com site as many of you have so faithfully pointed out but should have those little glitches fixed soon. Also since I am on the subject if you do not get your daily e-mail from me just go to the site, you can read the same thing there and maybe see a few you missed as well.
This is a beautiful mound of Mountainous Star Coral that we found again on our dive to the famous Mushroom Forest. That’s Aimee at the top of the mountain with Eva in the background exploring. This area is really know for these formations as well as Whatamulla, those are the two best spots to see these in person.
Aimee and I just got home from doing a mountain bike ride together!! This is a big deal guys we never ride together anymore!! Tonight we did one big loop on the trails I made and then over to the salt flats, we had such a great ride! Aimee said before we left that I would probably have to wait for her a lot because she was so out of shape!? Well after seeing her ride if that’s what you call out of shape I’m in big trouble, she rode great! This morning we both took the dogs to the salt ponds and did some much needed trail maintenance over there. Some areas were just thick with pica thorns all over the trail so she trimmed while I swept them away! At 10:00 Aimee went with Sheila from CARF and helped her with some homeless dogs on the island. This lady should get a bronzed statue of herself in the middle of the city for all she has done for the local wildlife here. Please if anyone out there needs a fabulous island dog contact me and I will hook you up, we went over to her house a few weeks back and got to see some of them. So while Aimee was out doing that I did a little Christmas shopping and then spent the rest of the day around the house.
That’s about it and yes we still have the whale for those of you asking he is doing very well. See you tomorrow, Barry