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 February, 2010
Feb 28, 10 Comments Off on Diver and Heart Urchin
Hello all. I hope and believe everyone had a good weekend. Our friends on the daily blog range from hot places, in southern Texas all the way up to the New York area, where they are piled thick with snow and all these storms, so everyone either stay cool or warm. Today’s photo is of our friend Mark from the Dive Bus, who is photographing a heart urchin. Mark and Barry do lots of diving together. When they are around each other it is pretty crazy, what a pair! As you recall it was Mark and another friend that Barry photographed jumping out of the helicopter! He is always up for a good time.
Now this is a heart urchin, and as you can see, it is covered with tons of tiny little spines. It uses these spines to help dig under the sand, where it is usually buried. They actually spend most of their time buried under the sand where they feed on organic material. There are actually quite a lot of heart urchins in most dive spots that we go to, but because they are usually hidden, the average diver seldom sees them. The most likely time to find a heart urchin is at night when they will more often come above the sand. Heart urchins, as their name implies are related to the sea urchins and the sand dollars, which most people are familiar with.
Ok, have a great week. Hope you enjoy.
Feb 27, 10 Comments Off on Juvenile Queen Angelfish, Curacao
Hello everyone. I hope your Saturday was a nice one and that you have a good Sunday to follow. Today’s photo is of a juvenile Queen Angelfish. All angelfish have this distinctive shape, even when they are young, but with many fish, this one included, the juvenile colors can be different from the adult colors. Only the juveniles have these distinctive bright blue stripes. As the fish matures they will loose these stripes and have more of an overall yellow/blue/turquoise color. As they mature also you will get the classic “crown” for which the Queen Angelfish gets its name. If you look closely you can see the beginnings of it even now. As adults they are quite shy fish and usually hide behind a rock before a diver can get very close. But, if you are patient and just relax and wait, they are also curious and usually begin to peek around that rock to see who is looking at them. Well, the juveniles are even more skittish and it takes a tremendous amount of patience to get a nice photo. Luckily my husband has plenty of patience….
Hope you enjoy. Have a great weekend.
Feb 26, 10 Comments Off on Christmas Tree Worm, Curacao
Good evening everyone. Do your days pass as quickly as mine do? It seems just minutes ago that it was morning! Time really flies some days, especially down here. It is super hot in Curacao right now, with not much of a breeze and pretty flat water. But, the good news is that the current is going in the correct direction and we are not getting any bad water from the harbor. Curacao without our trade winds just becomes stagnant. The breeze is really a blessing!
Well I did hear from Barry this evening and he is having the time of his life! He found several new species of fish that he has not photographed before so that is super exciting. It is hard to believe, but true that some species of fish, corals etc do not just “jump” from island to island. That means that you can find some very different photo subjects, and a trip to our neighbor, Bonaire, is well worth it!
The photo below is a wonderful one of a Christmas tree worm with a brilliant red sponge background. It is really amazing that even though you may have the same subject, the background can just make it outstanding. For those of you who have seen the movie “Avatar”, you may recall in the beginning that in the jungle there were huge “plants” that when the main character touched them they immediately withdrew into themselves. Well, this is exactly what the Christmas tree worms do! I heard through an interview that the director of the film is a big diver, and you can really see that influence! So, everyone have a great weekend! Stay safe.
Feb 25, 10 Comments Off on Diver and Dolphins
Well hello everyone, Aimee here! I am a bachelorette, it seems! I got Barry off to the airport yesterday evening and he arrived safely and hopefully spent the day hard at work (diving, that is). Now, we have been here almost 6 years and just when we think we have had all the “Curacao experiences” we could have, one more drops in our laps. That happened yesterday at the airport. Let me explain. When Barry was packing we already knew he would be overweight. He had little regular luggage, but with all the dive gear and the camera, housing, lights etc, there is no way he would not be overweight. We were prepared for that. So, as we checked in the girls put the luggage on the scale and told him he would have to pay more, naturally. He handed them his credit card and to our surprise, they shook their heads and said “no, you don’t pay here, you have to walk to the next building down the street, go wait in line and pay there’. Huh? Seriously? We both looked at each other and actually asked them once again and they explained that they did not accept money (cash or credit) and we had to go to the other place, a 10 minute walk! So, I waited with the bags as Barry went and paid. I asked them for the little tags to place on the bags and she said she only had ones for Caracas, Venezuela. Well, that would not be too good. I asked her if she could look some more and she then opened another drawer, thank goodness and, hello; there were some for Bonaire! Well, Barry got back, we got him finished off and he headed upstairs. We had to have him there 2 hours ahead of time for a 15 minute flight from Curacao to Bonaire. Funny.
Well, here is a wonderful photo of Zenzi, Tela and Pasku out on the reef diving. This little guy is a super-star, as his mother is already. Hope you enjoy the photo and the story. I am sure Barry will have many stories of his own when he gets back. I hope he is having a wonderful time with all his new dive buddies and a special thanks to the Wannadive Hut for taking care of him! See you tomorrow!
Feb 24, 10 Comments Off on Jumping Baby Dolphin, Curacao
Hey guys, I am off to Bonaire!! Talk to you all in a week! I have to be there in an hour so this will be the shortest ever!
I shot this today of little Pasku, he sure doesn’t jump high yet but he loves doing it!! Gotta go, Aimee will be sending your mail for the next 6 days and I won’t have computer access! Bye now, Barry
Feb 23, 10 Comments Off on Yellow Seahorse, Curacao
Hi friends, here’s a cool little yellow seahorse we found out in front of Breezes Hotel a few months back and I remembered I had forgot to send it out. These yellow ones are super hard to find here in Curacao and are considered the Holy Grail of underwater creatures. For some reason the yellow ones are even more shy than the other colors, I think it’s because when found they just plain get more attention than the others. Aimee and I just never get tired of getting to see these guys in their natural environment, it’s one of those things I will remember more than any other creature while diving here, they are just so at peace with everything!
Today was crazy for me, I raced around doing so many last minute things including buying a new phone. I took the dogs to the ocean and attempted to work on my trail but I hit a major roadblock. Right where I stopped there is a field of prickly pear cactus! Oh man it was depressing to see, it’s going to be so much work getting thru that stuff and anything I dig up I have to re-plant so I guess I will just wait till I get back from Bonaire. I spent the day at home trying to find anything else I am going to need because when I get home from work tomorrow night it’s off to the airport for my 15 minute flight to Bonaire! Aimee will be sending your daily out for the next 5 days so fear not.
I need to get moving, will send out tomorrows mail in the morning! Bye now, Barry
Feb 22, 10 Comments Off on Goldentail Moray eel in Curacao, Dive Bus Hut
Hi friends, this is going to be real short as I just got home from work and am taking Aimee out on the town for dinner tonight. Work was unbelievably busy today and I think we may have even broke some records! Tomorrow is my last day to pack and do last minute things before leaving to the diving capital of the Caribbean.
This is a beautiful little Goldentail Moray eel I found during the day just hanging out watching the fish and divers swim by. He will most likely just stay there all day and then at night leave his little coral home and go in search of dinner. These eels are of no danger at all to divers but if you were stupid enough to put your finger in his face, he would grab it for sure!!
Sorry so short I have to get my Birthday girl to dinner, see you soon, Barry
Feb 21, 10 Comments Off on Green Turtle, Sea Turtle, Curacao
Good evening friends, feels like I just wrote you guys a few hours ago. My day off zipped by so fast again but I got a lot done!! My trail at Saint Joris is looking great and I am being extra careful not to harm any of the environment. The desert is so dry that I can now find my way thru much easier and I got lucky in finding a still used goat path, the goats are gonna love this trail!! While raking today Inca and Indi chased each other back and forth on it and seemed to never get tired of it which is fine by me as long as they are keeping out of trouble! I had to pull some prickly pear cactus up by the roots that were in the way but got them all re-planted next to the trail and I am going around any and all nice bushes or trees, just trimming. After trail building class I took the dogs for a nice walk and a nice swim and they are still out!
I spent most of my day packing and getting last minute things done and at 4:00 took off for another one hour bike ride. The trails are so dry and the desert here is so brown right now we so badly need rain! As I rode by the salt ponds tonight I noticed they are really drying up and salt crystals are starting to form again, will have to run down and get some new shots!!
Here’s a little Green Turtle I found quite awhile ago at Small Wall, I think this was a dive I did with Mark from the World Famous Dive Bus Hut!! My divers out there know that there are two types of turtles, scared ones that won’t let you get close and the one’s that could care less, this one was super mellow and if I would have had more time I would have spent the whole dive with him!!
Hope you Sunday went well, gotta go, Barry
Feb 21, 10 Comments Off on Caribbean Spiny Lobster Eggs, Lobster Eggs, Curacao
Morning all, talk about a late e-mail, I almost forgot all about it this morning. Yesterday was to busy and to crazy to get this out and I left the house early this morning to walk the dogs and work on my new trail at Saint Joris. Busy, busy, busy!!
Here’s something I have never seen before, this is the tail of a live lobster filled with thousands of eggs! Yesterday while at work my friend Kelly who runs most of the aquarium area asked if I wanted to see something really crazy and of course I said lead the way. Well he took me to one of the new aquariums that had two big female Caribbean Spiny Lobsters inside and ever so carefully picked one up to show me the thousands of tiny eggs underneath her tail, it was amazing!! A freshly laid lobster egg is the size of the head of a pin (1/16″). A 1-pound female lobster usually carries approximately 8,000 eggs. A 9-pound female may carry more than 100,000 eggs. The female lobster carries the eggs inside for 9 to 12 months and then for another 9 to 12 months externally attached to the swimmerets under her tail. When the eggs hatch, the larvae will float near the surface for 4 to 6 weeks. The few that survive will settle to the bottom and continue to develop as baby lobsters. From every 50,000 eggs only 2 lobsters are expected to survive to legal size. Lobster babies swim at water surface for 25 days. Only one percent make it to the bottom. These young lobsters shed their shells about ten times in their first year. A near-shore lobster has a 90% chance of ending up on someone’s dinner plate. Pretty amazing huh?? My friend Kelly who helped yesterday got pretty cut up from holding the lobster, they have very sharp spines all over their bodies and antenna.
Tomorrow’s Aimee’s birthday, her e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org I have to go, so much to do today!! Enjoy the weekend, Barry
Feb 20, 10 Comments Off on Juvenile Queen Angelfish in Curacao
Good morning ladies and gentlemen, once again I am late with the mail! I spent the evening packing as I have so much camera gear I am taking to Bonaire you really wouldn’t believe it. I think like last time I will take a photo of it all laid out on the bed once I get there and send that to you then when I get home. Last night I prepared photos for Aimee to send out to you every night while I am gone so there will be no interruption in the blog. Then when I get home I will do a week or two or probably more of shots and stories from the trip should be fun for all of us.
Here’s a baby or Juvenile Queen Angelfish that I found a few days ago in the shallows near the World Famous Dive Bus at Pier Baai. These fish like I have said before are so difficult to shoot, they are really shy!! This one came out of his or her cave just once to say hi and after quickly taking a few shots she disappeared never to be seen again. Really it was like a magic trick or something I searched and searched but never did find this little colorful thing again! Go back a few days ago to the adult Queen photo I sent you and now look at this one, it’s really quite the transformation. This one here is about a year old, the tiny ones are even more colorful and even harder to photograph but boy are they ever beautiful!!
Work is still as crazy as I have ever seen it, we call it mass confusion! Aimee has been working so hard and hardly gets enough sleep these days and like the other trainers lives in a wetsuit all day long!
That’s about it, need to get moving, already running late, Barry
Feb 18, 10 Comments Off on Sand Diver, Synodus Intermedius, Curacao, Lizardfish
Hey, hey, hey it’s me again. Aimee and I both had the day off so I let her sleep in for the first time in 4 months and I took off with the dogs to continue my trail building at Saint Joris. I spent around an hour and a half on the trail and another hour walking the dogs along the water edge, fun was had by all. It’s now getting much hotter in Curacao and it’s so dry, we really need a big rain! By the time I got home Aimee was up so after a quick breakfast and washing the dogs we headed out to the airport to pick up and pay for my Bonaire ticket. I am now leaving on the evening of the 24th and returning the evening of the 2nd, it will be 6 days of non-stop diving excitement!! We have friends that will be flying in from Rapid City, South Dakota from the dive shop there and some other friends I have never met but talk to all the time on-line, so it should be a fantastic trip. Aimee and I put together a list of items today that I will try to find on this trip, including a white and a black frogfish!
After running all over town, driving to the airport and going grocery shopping we finally got back home around 12:30. I called Mark at the World Famous Dive Bus Hut and asked what were the diving conditions today, he said perfect! That’s all I needed to hear so off I went down for an afternoon dive at Pier Baai. Mark was right other than cold water right now the diving was great and calm. The first creature I came across was a juvenile Queen Angelfish and did manage to get a few nice shots but after that like magic she was gone, I couldn’t find her anywhere? My next subject was this big Sand Diver as you see here. This grumpy guy was sitting on the top of a big boulder in plain sight, normally they hide under the sand! Before I went in for the shot I let him get used to me in front of his face from a long ways off and then slowly and I mean slowly (it took 15 minutes) got close enough with the macro lens for the shot I needed. I was expecting him to take off at top speed after the flash fired but he never moved so I just kept shooting. These Sand Divers are really mean fish and eat their share of reef fish and talk about fast, I have seen one strike and eat an unsuspecting fish so fast it was over before I could react!! After playing with this guy I then moved on to an area with lots of little Secretary Blennies and spent the rest of the dive with them, they have the best facial expressions! By the time I got out I could hardly feel my fingers, our water is cold right now!
That’s basically what I did today, I am going to start packing my underwater equipment tonight so I have plenty of time to make sure I have everything! A big thanks to all of you for the compliments on the Caribbean Squid Beak from yesterday, I am shocked at how many of you liked that! Gotta go, Barry
Feb 17, 10 Comments Off on Caribbean Reef Squid Beak, Radula, Cephalopods
Hi friends, here’s something really cool, this is a close-up of the mouth or beak as it’s called of a Caribbean Reef Squid. So many have asked me, “what and how do squid eat”?? This species, like most squid, is a voracious eater and typically consumes 30-60% of its body weight daily. Prey is caught using the club-like end of the long tentacles which are then pulled towards the mouth supported by the shorter arms. Like other cephalopods, it has a strong beak (as you see here) which it uses to cut the prey into parts so that the raspy tongue, or radula, can be used to further process the food. It consumes small fish, other molluscs, and crustaceans. Aimee and I have seen them with little red shrimps in their mouths and fish but trying to get close enough for a photo is close to impossible. As you can see from this cool beak they have to hold their prey and bite off small pieces one bite at a time, they can’t just swallow it so dinner time can sometimes take quite awhile. Anyways something different for my divers out there.
It was a VERY busy day at the Aquarium and at Dolphin Academy today, most of the trainers didn’t even get any lunch as there was no time. Aimee was off today she took the dogs for a fun ocean walk and then came home and went to bed for some much needed sleep.
I am finally heading to Bonaire in a few days for 5 days of diving! I will leave the evening of the 25th if possible and be back the evening of the 30th. And of course I will be staying at Wannadive,the finest resort on the island you can call them if you need to reach me.
I’m off to bed, talk to you tomorrow, Barry
Feb 16, 10 Comments Off on Giant Porcupinefish, Odd Shaped Swimmers, Curacao
Good evening readers. As I am finding out many folks out there don’t even read these blogs I send out they only look at the photos and I know this for a fact because I always am quizzing friends on a daily basis! Busted! Yeah you know who you are.
I had a very busy day. I finally have a good working knee again so I took the dogs and my trail building tools and off we went to Saint Joris. I have been wanting to start building a new little trail in the area we hike so finally today was the day and I started it. Curacao is so dry right now and it’s the perfect time to cut a new trail and today it went very well and was very easy, I just followed an already existing game trail!! We stayed out there for around two hours and every 20 minutes or so I would walk the dogs back down to the waters edge and let them cool off in the water, it was really hot by 10:00!! I left all my tools out there because we go out there so much, it should go pretty fast. After washing the dogs and eating breakfast I took off on a wild-goose hunt in search of something for Aimee’s up-coming birthday on the 22nd. While out I quickly found out again that there must be another holiday that we know nothing about, turns out almost everything was closed due to Carnival. At 5:00 I cleaned up the bike and put air in the tires and took off on a long overdo ride, it’s been 10 days!! The ride went well, my knee did well in fact riding felt better than walking!
Here’s another big beautiful Giant Porcupinefish, I just love these things!!!
Heads up all, Aimee has a new e-mail address, PLEASE make a note of it, email@example.com she would love to hear from you all as well! Till tomorrow, Barry
Feb 15, 10 Comments Off on Queen Angelfish in Curacao, Bright Colored Fish
Good evening friends how was your day?? And please one and all feel free to answer, I would love to hear from you all! I have not heard a word from hundreds of you for what seems like years so if this sounds like the case with you, send us a note to let us know your still out there! How many people are on the daily list?? You don’t want to know! Let’s just say a whole lot!
Here’s a beautiful Queen Angelfish I found weeks ago deep on our reef. This was not shot at night, to get a nice non-distracting black background turn your lens or dial your camera to f-22 or f-25 and pump up the flash, it gives you the look of night and takes away the bad background that kills many nice underwater shots. These Queen Angelfish are by far the most beautiful fish we have in Curacao but getting close enough to get a nice shot sometimes is darn near impossible. Typically these fish hang out in deeper water below 50 feet and hate divers, they are scared to death of everything! This one here swam into a cave and I waited and waited and waited until finally he made a run for it and all I got was one shot as he took off to much deeper and safer depths! Many of my diver friends out there have found the baby Queens before and know how beautiful those are but again even more difficult shoot as they never stop swimming in circles!! The Queen Angelfish gets its name from the crown-like ring on its head. Its diet consists mostly of sponges and algae.
That’s it for tonight, we had yet another mind blowing busy day, talk to you tomorrow, Barry
Feb 14, 10 Comments Off on Dolphin Show Behaviors, Double Pec Shake, Curacao
Good afternoon, I hope you all are out enjoying Valentine’s Day. I am finally walking a little better today, I took the dogs to Saint Joris this morning for a fun walk around the waters edge looking for washed in treasures. It actually was a great morning of collecting. I found some nice big deer eye seeds, some great driftwood pieces, some really nice sea urchin skeletons including two tiny ones and my favorite find a super big piece of volcanic floating rock. I sure wish I knew where these floating rocks originated from, the ones here are a light grey and can be found all along the waters edge but I’m sure they floated in from some other near-by island. I remember in Mexico I went collecting for floating rocks along the coast with our friends Joe and Nancy but those were a much darker color and some were even black, but boy were they fun to find
Here’s a fun shot of Junior doing a very cool double hand shake or as we say a double pec shake with Tela and baby Pasku. This was taken yesterday at the beginning of our 4:30 dolphin show. It made me laugh looking at this photo because they still haven’t fixed the roof from when hurricane Omar went thru, see it in the background?? Things don’t get done fast in Curacao my friends.
Happy Valentine’s Day again, be back tomorrow, Barry