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 April, 2010
Apr 30, 10 Comments Off on Homeless Puppy Needs Your Help!!
Good evening all and to my Dutch friends, Happy Queens Day!!! This is our third and last puppy and my personal favorite. I am temporarily calling her Blackie. She is a little smaller than the others but makes up for it in spirit and attitude!! Aimee and I are both shocked at how well these puppies have adapted to our house in the past week and amazed at how much they have grown. My dear wife is doing potty training around the clock and some times takes them outside six or seven times within an hour and unbelievably they go potty every time!! Again, please help us find them homes, someone has to know someone that needs a puppy, and these are Grade “A” top quality!!
Another busy day for me starting with trail building for two hours by myself this morning. Then I came home and picked up Bernard and Rosa and off we went to Punda to check out all the celebrating going on because of Queens Day, a major holiday for Holland!! We walked all over town in the blazing heat with thousands of other visitors, it was kind of like controlled chaos! At 1:00 Aimee called and said she couldn’t get in the house because I had the key so I left our guests there to play and went home to rescue the puppies who needed to be fed and walked. At 3:00 I went back to Punda to collect our tourists and at 5:00 I went riding for an hour. I am so tired right now, we got home late last night from the “Sully Party” and woke to the sound of restless puppies at 4:00am!
That’s about it, we did get a little rain but it’s still real hot! Bye now, Barry
Apr 29, 10 Comments Off on Curacao Puppy Needs Adoption, Homeless Puppies
Hey guys, (Aimee here) this is puppy number two. This is our little man and he is as cute and as gentle as they get!! When we first started feeding the puppies, the two others (females) would come running as fast as they could, tails wagging and jumping up to greet me. This little man however, would have his tail wagging but would keep his distance, waiting for me to leave to come and get his dinner. Occasionally he would get a bit closer and I would pick him up and pet him and then set him back down, and eventually he became a bit more relaxed. However, as soon as we got him home and cleaned up a bit and he found out I was “the dinner lady”, he is now also as affectionate and fun loving as his sisters. So far he seems like the little gentleman, letting the girls do more of the jumping and tail-biting as he lays down with his chewie. It is really funny seeing their little personalities develop. They are each so different and so perfect in their own little ways. That being said, potty training three little ones is quite the challenge! You can bet that if I take one outside, the others are being “pee machines” inside! With time though that will get better. PLEASE help us find a home for this sweet thing I promise you will not be disappointed!! The adventure continues.
Well, today I got a big surprise! About 3 weeks ago, Barry became very secretive and asked me to get some extra days off in the coming week. I was fortunately able to do that. This afternoon he told me he was going photographing on the island and left about 1:00. To my amazement he returned about an hour later with our good friend Bernard and his girlfriend Rosa! Wow! I had no idea! What a sneaky-fun husband! Bernard and Rosa live in London and they will be here with us for about one week. Bernard has been here several times, but it has been about 3 years since the last time. Things have changed! We are now living in this great house, with much more room, and the island has grown and changed, with new buildings and business places everywhere. It will be fun touring around with them in the up and coming days.
Tonight we have dinner at the Ribs Factory planned and then to a local bar/restaurant for a “Sully Party”. Remember Sully was the pilot whale we rescued and rehabilitated and then was sent to Sea World of San Diego? This is a party to thank all the people who worked so hard during those 6 long months. So, we are going to get ready and take off, everyone have a great day tomorrow! Aimee
Apr 28, 10 Comments Off on Homeless Puppy in Curacao, Stray Dogs and Puppies
Good evening all, finally here’s a picture of one of the three puppies. This is a little female and she is so loving and friendly and for now I am calling her “Brownie”. Today the puppies got their first shots so they made it thru the first week safe and sound!! We will not be taking these little things anywhere until we know they are protected from the killer parvo virus which as many of you know took one of our last puppies we had. We are even going as far as taking off our shoes before we walk in the house and making visitors do the same along with constant moping of the entry way with bleach. The best news ever is that this puppy has officially been adopted out to our friend Tom and his family, remember he’s the vet from Sea World that stayed with us all last month! Well him and his family are moving here soon so we are just taking care of her till they get settled in! The other two sweethearts are still needing homes, will send you another puppy photo tomorrow night for your consideration!! All of these dogs have incredible personalities and are so fun to be around and seem to already just love everyone plus like the others Aimee is already potty training them!!
Very tired from a long day in the sun, talk to you more tomorrow, Barry
Apr 27, 10 Comments Off on Seagrape, Sea Grape, Coccoloba uvifera, Curacao
Hey gang, how is everything in your neck of the woods?? I had my normal day off marathon and am very relived to be sitting here for once doing nothing!! I met a friend at Saint Joris this morning at 7:30 and he helped me with my new trail for two hours and we had to leave because of the heat! I carried in six liters of water and we used it all, it was that hot!! Once I got home I had to take our three little cuties outside to pee and then carried them upstairs where they played and played for the next hour and a half. After finally falling down one by one from exhaustion I was able to again put them to bed and go do my “honey do list” of chores around town which took around an hour and a half. At 4:00 I took off on a two and a half hour mountain bike ride and finally for once this week I felt very strong and had a great ride, makes a big difference when you don’t dive and then go ride. Aimee is upstairs watching t.v. with all three little treasures asleep in her lap, they are so tired they can’t even move!!
This is a Coccoloba uvifera or as we call it here a Seagrape. This is a plant that is not only highly tolerant of salt it is also very drought tolerant making it a perfect plant for the Caribbean. It is a sprawling evergreen shrub or small tree that reaches a maximum height of 8 meters or (26 feet), but most specimens are little more than 2 meters (6.6 feet) tall. It’s named Seagrape because of the edible large grape-like clusters. The fruit contains a large pit that takes up most of the fruit which can be very frustrating if your at all hungry! This is a brand new baby leaf growing out of the same opening as the large adult leaf, it’s really a beautiful plant that for the most park gets overlooked quite often.
Many, many thanks to everyone that wrote and said they bought one or multiple copies of the May issue of Sport Diver with my picture on the cover, I really appreciate the support! Off to bed, see you tomorrow, Barry
Apr 26, 10 Comments Off on Project Aware, Reef Clean-Up, Dive Bus Hut, Curacao
Good evening, the puppies are wearing us out!! Wow talk about a lot of work!!! Our days now have to start at 5:30am with waking them up and quickly taking them out to pee. We then carry them upstairs and feed them and let them swim in their water bowl, then seconds later we have to carry them back downstairs and outside again to let them do their business!! Then we bring them back upstairs for some play-time!! It’s crazy time for the next hour and every 10 minutes we have to take them out to pee again, they have the bladder the size of a pea. Finally right before work we take them out one more time then take them back downstairs to the puppy coral where they sleep for the next 3 hours. Aimee and I are so worn out by the time we go to work! Also once they go to bed we have to re-mop the whole up stairs and take showers again before work, it’s quite a workout!! One of them has officially been adopted by our friend Tom and his family who will soon be moving here to live from California, so one down three to go!!
Here’s the winners of the World Famous Dive Bus Hut “Clean-up the reef day”!! This is Debby and Judith who in one dive brought back so much trash from off the reef, it’s folks like this that are doing their best to safe this planet!! Years ago when we first moved here this reef had a lot of trash and tires but now even with 20 divers looking for trash it’s hard to find, that says a lot about how well this program is working. Both of these ladies will be doing a dolphin swim with me at the Dolphin Academy soon, I think it’s a perfect way to say thanks for a job well done!!
Our air-co repair guy just left, we had all the units serviced so it’s off to bed now!! Later, Barry
Apr 25, 10 Comments Off on Homeless in Curacao, Vagrant, Derelict, Vagabond
Good evening all, here’s a photo that pretty much speaks for itself and should make you feel grateful for what you have. The homeless problem in Curacao is no different than it is in the United States or anywhere else for that matter. Quite often Aimee and I run into homeless people while out and about and we give them a little money if we can. We usually give it to them even though we know they will probably go straight out and buy drugs or alcohol, but really what can you do?? Many times instead of the money we get them something to eat or drink that way you kind of know where your money is going. Here in Curacao the homeless don’t beg for money or hold up signs pleading for help like they do in the States they at least try to find some kind of work. Most of them that I have seen hang out in public parking lots and wait for you to park. They then walk up to you and ask if you would like your car washed, still not asking for money and I think most of the time people say yes because it is so cheap. They all seem have a big white five gallon bucket, soap, squeegee and a sponge but we always wonder where are they getting the water from?? You then come back from shopping and pay them, usually it’s around $1.50 to $2.50 and for the most part they do a fairly good job. Obviously it’s much easier to help three stranded puppies along the road than a fellow human being now a days, you just never know how dangerous a person can be making it even harder to help, it’s the day and age we live in.
I had a really fun dive today with Mark and the gang from the World famous Dive Bus Hut. Today was one of their annual Project Aware Beach Clean-Up days and the turnout was great! I took a bunch of photos of Mark collecting a car tire underwater and bringing it back and then watched as the other volunteers cut yards of tangled fishing line from around the corals. Everyone had a great time and as a reward for the team that collected the most trash I gave away my free monthly Dolphin Swims to the winners, a little incentive never hurts!! Afterwards we had a nice BBQ on the beach and then watched a little slide show that Suzy took of everyone today, it was a great afternoon!!
Aimee just came home, we are now going to go out in the backyard and take the first puppy photos so stay tuned!! Talk to you tomorrow, Barry
Apr 24, 10 Comments Off on Blue, Pink-Lilac, Purple Sponge, Callyspongia fallax
Good evening readers, this is going to be fast because Aimee and I are going over to a friends house in just a few minutes.
This turned out to be one of the coolest sponges I found or should I say Sal found in Bonaire. When I got home I looked and looked for this sponge in books and on-line and couldn’t find a thing and we really needed a name. So I sent a note to Sven Zea, Ph.D. Professor Titular, Universidad Nacional de Colombia who is one of the leading sponge authorities in the World, check out their site at www.spongeguide.org Sven immediately wrote us back and confirmed that this was a beautiful cluster of Callyspongia fallax. He also went on to say that it is rare to see this variety spreading so much because usually you only find these sponges in small colonies. A big thanks to Tim Henkel as well for first identifying this sponge and then sending me to Sven for confirmation. Also we have another sponge expert on our list Brendan Biggs that is constantly helping with names and correcting us when we are wrong, we really appreciate his comments and information as well!!
Sorry but I have to go, puppies are doing great, photos soon!! Bye, Barry
Apr 23, 10 Comments Off on Reef Trash, Reef Clean-Up Day, Tires and Tubes
Good evening all, someone asked me today if we ever see trash on the reefs here?? The answer to that is yes!! The worst place we have seen is under and around the piers, those areas are as trashed as it gets! Almost everywhere has tires and we call those “Tire Coral” and as you see here a big truck inner tube and these we call “Tube Sponges”. Tires and tubes, bottles, cans and the worst thing, fishing line is one of those constant reminders that man has pretty much trashed this planet. And the real down side to all this junk is that it will never break down so year after year we see the same o’l stuff laying around at many dive sites. The good news is that the folks from the World famous Dive Bus Hut along with other local dive shops have an annual reef/beach clean-up day once or twice a year and this Sunday is one of those days. Mark said this year his focus was to try and remove or cut as much fishing line as they could as it is wrapped around so many sponges and so many corals! The reef at Pier Baai used to be covered in tires and bottles but now one really has to search to find new trash, that’s what a team of reef cleaning volunteers can do. Also some of this stuff has been down there so long that it now has creatures using it as homes or as you see here little corals and sponges growing onto the side of it so you can never remove it. You would do more damage than good removing this tube so it’s best just to leave it there and hopefully divers will just learn from it.
Today was a really hot and very humid!! The puppies continue to adjust to their new home and we are again really enjoying them even if they are peeing machines. Off to bed, Barry
Apr 22, 10 Comments Off on Black Frogfish in Curacao, Dive Bus, Dive Bus Hut
Hi again one and all! Today was a great day, I finally got to see and photograph a black Frogfish!! For those of you lucky ones out there who have been on the list from the start you have seen all the other colors I have found in the past! Some of the frogfish colors we have seen are orange, bright yellow, yellow-green, pink, red, brown, purple, green, mossy green, orange brown, and now finally a black one!! The last and hardest color is solid white, that’s my unfound unicorn and I know it exists because I have seen photos! I never would have seen this guy today if Mark from the World famous Dive Bus Hut wouldn’t have come by and pointed it out to me. I was in the right spot and looking right at him but just couldn’t see it as it was only about three inches long and sat there motionless. I think I have told you all before that how an animal looks underwater is one thing and how it looks with flash applied is another. When your searching with just your mask on everything really blends in and looks kind of green and blue but when you apply light or flash it brings out the true colors of your subject and it’s surroundings. These frogfish are the true masters of disguise, they can really blend in with their surroundings making them incredible and fast hunters.
A big thanks to our sponge expert Brendan Biggs for correcting me on yesterdays Yellow Azure Vase sponge photo. He said that the sponge is diseased and dying! These sponges are supposed to be purple, so next time you see one in yellow it’s on it’s way out. He also said that in the Keys that 87% of these Azure Vase sponges are diseased and that this is a very serious problem, I will keep you posted.
The puppies are doing GREAT!!!! Aimee and I stayed home with them all day giving them tender loving care around the clock. Indi is also doing her part at baby-sitting and is proving to be worth her weight in fur! We may have a home for one already, will be taking photos soon, your going to love them!!
Food is calling, see you tomorrow, Barry
Apr 21, 10 Comments Off on Diseased Azure Vase Sponge, Callyspongia Plicifera
Good evening readers, we are officially the owners of three new cute puppies!! Aimee went this morning and easily found and picked up two of them and at the time could not find the third. She immediately brought them home and gave them around five baths each removing ticks and fleas and cleaning a few small wounds. At 2:00 she took them to the vet who then gave them some heartworm medication, and other stuff for their skin problems and the fleas and ticks, no parvo shots yet. The vet said since they just were given all these other meds that they need to wait a week before receiving their first official shots. The pups then slept very quietly all day in the puppy coral I built. At 5:00 Aimee took off in search of the other and moments later returned with a smile on her face! She then took off again with the new one to the vet and then once home gave that one five baths and now all three are busy chewing on rawhide sticks and seem very happy! So far so good! I will wait a few days for their skin to heal and then do a puppy photo shoot, I can hardly wait. We are obviously counting on you guys out there to help us with homes. Aimee will be more than happy to deliver one to the States in July if your interested so please think about it or ask around.
This is a yellow or cream Azure Vase Sponge. Most of you have seen these in purple from me more than the yellow, this color is much harder to find. Most of you already know that sponges are animals and come in many sizes, shapes and colors. You know I was wondering how many divers out there ever take the time to swim over to a sponge like this and really check it out?? Many times if you swim over and look down inside the tubes you will see small fish or crabs that use these beautiful sponges as their homes. Please for me the next time your out diving start paying closer attention to the sponges and tell me if you find one that really stands out, I would love to photograph it.
That’s it for tonight, the puppies are now playing, I hear a little growling and little barks! Bye, Barry
Apr 21, 10 Comments Off on Juvenile JackKnife Fish in Bonaire, Drums, Eden Beach
Good morning all, I came home last night from a bike ride with a pounding headache and went to bed early! My days off seem to be turning into a contest of just how much can a human do in one day! Yesterday I first went to my annual doctors appointment then at 9:00 took the dogs out to work on the trail. It was already so hot when we got there at 9:30 that I was only able to work on the trail for 30 minutes, I was dripping wet and couldn’t seem to give the dogs enough water! When I finally said that’s enough “let’s go” both dogs raced out and headed straight for the water, you should have seen them go! Once home and after washing two very dirty dogs, I ate breakfast and then took off to do my shopping and errands. I got home around 2:00 and proceeded to get my underwater camera ready for a dive at the World famous Dive Bus Hut at 3:00. It was rumored that a black frogfish was spotted, a color I have never seen and really wanted a photo. Well to make a long story short we searched but no frogfish to be found very strange that he would move in the course of a day? I did have a nice dive though, found all kinds of cool stuff. Once out of the water I raced home still wearing my wetsuit and hurried to get ready for a 5:30 bike ride with friends down the street. I had told myself before never ever go riding after a dive, the body just can’t do it! It was a difficult ride for me, felt worn out the whole way and could hardly wait to get home. I was so glad to get home and after a quick dinner me and my headache went to bed, it was game over!!
Here’s something for my Curacao divers. This was found at Eden Beach in Bonaire, this is a very small one inch juvenile Jackknife Fish. The first thing you will notice is the yellow color, that is so cool, once they get older that color will disappear and turn to white kind of like the Spotted Drums we see here. I have never seen one of these in Curacao and looking in the book it has them listed as uncommon to rare in the Caribbean. Apparently the Bahamas and Florida is where these are mainly found. In the background that is a Soapfish laying there, that’s how small this fish was but since I had the macro I could only get a section of it’s body.
Well if all goes alright Aimee is bringing the puppies home today, they are a day away from getting run over where they are now. Wish her luck. I have to get to work, bye now, Barry
Apr 19, 10 Comments Off on Coral Bleaching, Global Warming, Zooxanthellae
Hi friends, I did a dive this afternoon and saw a bunch of new Coral Bleaching! This is a very serious matter which scientists are now linking to Global Warming. This is big beautiful colony of Boulder Star Coral and it’s beginning to die! Coral bleaching is the whitening of corals, due to stress-induced expulsion or death of symbiotic, algae like protozoa, or due to the loss of pigmentation within the protozoa. Still with me?? The corals that form the structure of the great reef ecosystems of tropical seas depend upon a symbiotic relationship with unicellular flagellate protozoa, called zooxanthellae, that are photosynthetic and live within their tissues. Zooxanthellae give coral it’s coloration, with the specific color depending on the particular clade. Under stress, (which you see here) corals may expel their zooxanthellae, which leads to lighter or completely white appearance, hence the term “bleached”. Once bleaching begins, it tends to continue even without continuing stress. If the coral colony survives the stress period, zooxanthellae often require weeks to months to return to normal density. The new residents may be of a different species. Some species of zooxanthellae and corals are more resistant to stress than other species. Scientists believe that Global Warming is the key factor in the rapid decline of many coral species. The other main cause’s of coral bleaching are increased or reduced water temperatures, increased solar irradiance, changes in water chemistry, starvation caused by a decline in zooplankton, increased sedimentation, pathogen infections, and changes in salinity. Ok, maybe that’s too much information but folks it’s a fact the corals are dying Worldwide and in some places they have been wiped out completely due to the change in water temperature.
Most of the time our coral’s heal themselves but I will be watching this colony very close in the weeks to come.
We are still planning on picking up the three puppies Wednesday morning. We went tonight and Aimee gave them all de-wormer, it’s a first step and it went very well, the puppies are very friendly!
Talk to you tomorrow, Barry
Apr 18, 10 Comments Off on Bare-eyed Pigeon, Curacao Birds, Doves, Tropical Birds
Good evening friends, I trust you all had an enjoyable or restful Sunday?? Mine was very busy as usual. I put the bike on the car and took the dogs to Saint Joris to work on the new trail for two hours this morning. This was the first time I got to “do a test run” of sorts on the bike and it was great! This morning instead of trimming brush I took some fluorescent marking tape and marked a whole new loop that now needs to be put in. The dogs and I walked a big area and after doing that I then knew all the best areas for a new trail. We got home around 10:30 after first stopping to feed the three homeless puppies and their mother. Our plan is to grab the puppies on Tuesday evening then Wednesday Aimee can take them all to the vet. The mother is also going to be caught and taken to the doctor to be fixed so wish us luck. I spent a good part of the day making a new “puppy play pen” inside and then went to the store and bought three little collars, leashes and some toys. I also had to buy Clorox, disinfectant, paper towels, food bowls and other goodies in preparation for our new guests.
Some of you may remember me saying that I built a bird feeder in our back yard a few months ago. Since it’s introduction into the “hood” it has been very popular and somewhat expensive to feed everyone now. One of our stores sells crushed corn in large bags and if I can find it I buy it because everyone seems to love it. Well our most common resident the Bare-eyed Pigeon as seen here is always the first to arrive. These guys live in a big tree in the desert across the road from our house, there are about fifty of them! I think they have a spy living in our yard because they always show up second after the seed is out no matter how quiet I am! These really are beautiful birds but have kind of taken over my feeding area. Most days when I put out the seed I will just stand there and guard it letting all the little birds come in first and eat, then after 10 minutes I let these clowns have the rest.
Aimee got home early from work today so we both went back to Saint Joris with the dogs and did another hour of trail work, it sure was nice to have some help again!
Talk to you all later, Barry
Apr 18, 10 Comments Off on Dolphin Rocket Ride at Dolphin Academy in Curacao
Good morning readers, many thanks for all the compliments on the Sun Halo photo, you guys really keep me going. Here’s Aimee again with another fun Rocket Ride off the nose of Tela. I was trying to explain last time how this is done and I think this shows it a little better. Tela really pushes Aimee as hard as she can! While underwater Tela’s nose is glued to the bottom of Aimee’s foot and once they break the surface Tela then gives a little extra kick to launch Aimee as high into the air as possible! That’s her baby Pasku to the left, he doesn’t do any pushing he’s just there along for the ride but I am sure he is learning this behavior from watching it so much. These Rocket Rides are always the highlight to every show, the crowd always cheers followed by a long round of applause.
Not much going on, all flights to Europe are canceled because of the Volcano in Iceland. This means we have folks stuck here from Holland and Germany and no new visitors coming in at the moment from these countries, crazy huh?? Dumb volcano!
I went diving yesterday morning but saw nothing interesting, it was a very uneventful dive. After work I went for a short one hour bike ride but felt completely exhausted and ended up riding terrible. Well, off to work on the trail a little bit, see you tonight again, Barry
Apr 16, 10 Comments Off on Sun Halo, Nimbus, Icebow, Optical Phenomenon
Good evening friends, today something happened that usually only happens once or twice a year in Curacao, we had a Sun Halo!! It was so beautiful! I quickly ran inside and brought out some hand models and had them reach for the sky with the palms of their hands open shooting some cool silhouettes and then using a starfish as well. After that it seemed to just be getting bigger and better so I raced to another area in search of the large frigate birds and tried my hardest to get them in the scene as you see here, after 20 minutes of that I was seeing stars! For those of you who haven’t seen one of these or don’t know what they are I found this little tid-bit of info for you.
A Sun Halo also known as a Nimbus, Icebow or Gloriole is an optical phenomenon produced by ice crystals creating colored or white arcs and spots in the sky. Many are near the sun or moon but others are elsewhere and even in the opposite part of the sky. They can also form around artificial lights in very cold weather when ice crystals called diamond dust are floating in the nearby air. There are many types of ice halos. They are produced by the ice crystals in cirrus clouds high (5“10 km, or 3“6 miles) in the upper troposphere. The particular shape and orientation of the crystals is responsible for the type of halo observed. Light is reflected and refracted by the ice crystals and may split up into colors because of dispersion. The crystals behave like prisms and mirrors, refracting and reflecting sunlight between their faces, sending shafts of light in particular directions. Atmospheric phenomena such as halos were used as part of weather lore as an empirical means of weather forecasting before meteorology was developed. Other common optical phenomena involving water droplets rather than ice crystals include the glory and the rainbow.
Today was Hot even though it was obviously freezing high above us. The desert here is again beautiful green and everything is again coming back to life after the big drink a few days ago. The humidity here now is terrible and we also have mosquitoes again, that’s the downside.
There may be three puppies in our future again. They are living under a truck across the street from us and we have been feeding them everyday, I think we are going to have to help them as the owners could care less.
That’s it, going diving at 6:30 in the morning, don’t ask why!! See ya, Barry