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 August, 2010
Aug 31, 10 Comments Off on Stoplight Parrotfish, Colorful Reef Fish
Good morning from Curacao! Still no internet at home, trying to get UTS to come out and do a repair is close to impossible, maybe today?
Yesterday I worked and tried to finish my last minute shopping list. I leave tomorrow morning at 6:00am and will arrive in Rapid City, SD at around 5:30pm, that’s a long day of travel and I have to get on three different planes.
Here’s a fun shot for you all today, this is a macro shot of the tail of a large Stoplight Parrotfish. Saturday night when Aimee and I went diving together instead of seeing coral spawning we found countless other cool creatures instead. Once the sun goes down, Parrotfish like so many other reef fish seek shelter for the long night ahead. During most dives we see countless Parrotfish laying under coral heads or hiding in some of the coolest spots you can imagine, the trick is not to wake them. Most divers end up spooking them or waking them up because of their bright lights, the trick is to find one and use soft light and then slowly move in close. I found that using diffusers over my lights allows me to get very close at least most of the time. The other trick is to never go night diving too early because the fish are still not fully asleep and are spooked a lot more easily!
That’s about it, see some of you real soon, I am going down in the sub right now for a photo shoot with friends. Have a great day, Barry
Aug 30, 10 Comments Off on Buildings in Curacao, Colorful Buildings
Hi friends, another day without internet, again so sorry but it’s out of our control! Yesterday I had a fun morning with the dogs at Saint Joris, that was my last walk with them for 3 weeks, I haven’t even left yet and I miss them already! While there I did some needed trail work on my new single-track which seems to be getting used a lot now and is starting to look great! The shores at Saint Joris are once agin filled with drift wood and it’s obvious no one is collecting it anymore, not even me.
Curacao has really been heating up this week and with little to no wind due to hurricanes in the area, it’s down right HOT!
I spent yesterday building some driftwood items and packing and before I knew it the day was gone! I left the house at 4:50 (HOT) and left on a 2 hour bike ride. I stopped at a friends on the way and we both rode for an hour together out around the edges of Saint Joris and on my new trail, it was a real fun evening!
Here’s a photo by request today. People are always asking me for pictures of buildings in Curacao, so here you go. Like all buildings here, this one is old, big, colorful and just down right beautiful, one could shoot buildings here all day and never get tired of it.
That’s it guys, have a wonderful Monday, Barry
Aug 29, 10 Comments Off on Things to do in Curacao, Substation Curacao
Good morning all, once again I apologize for the messed up daily blogs, we still are without internet at home! Yesterday was a very busy day. I first took the dogs for a long two hour walk with our friend Joey down to the salt ponds via the Barry/Arjan trail and did some trail cleaning along the way. It was so hot by 9:00 that we both said, “that’s it”, we were pretty much soaked to the bone from sweat and the dogs were running from one shady spot to the next.
After getting home and washing everyone and eating breakfast I then headed out for some last minute shopping before I leave Wednesday morning and that ended up taking up a good part of the day, it seemed like I went everywhere! While at work yesterday I brought home my camera gear, tanks and dive gear and at 9:30 last night Aimee and I went for a fun night dive hoping to see some coral spawning. The bad news is we didn’t see any spawning, the good news is we found lots of other cool things to photograph anyways! We ended up being out there for an hour and a half, I keep forgetting how much I love and miss night diving! We got home at around midnight and after cleaning our gear and taking apart the camera we finally fell into bed and we were both asleep in seconds!
Here’s another fun shot I got the other day while out touring the reef in mini-sub style! We found this giant red barrel sponge with this beautiful black crinoid attached to it’s rim, it was picture perfect!
Lots to do today, be back tomorrow, Barry
Aug 28, 10 Comments Off on Feeding Goatfish, Goatfish Barbels, Curacao
Good morning all, still no internet at home so we are unable to send out any daily e-mails. We will try again on Monday to get someone out to help from UTS but I think that is being unrealistic.
Yesterday was another very hot day here in Curacao, I think our summer heat has finally arrived! I did one reef dive with the sub yesterday but had a hard time as the current was running fast! There was coral spawning last night but I did not go, maybe tonight, I went for a nice bike ride instead.
This is a small school of Goatfish I found yesterday all having breakfast together. I finally got a shot of their Barbels as they were searching for food in the sea-weed. Much of their day is spent digging in the sand, they use two fleshy whiskers called barbels, located under the tip of their chin, to search for prey hiding in the sand. These fish are Carnivores, they feed on shrimp, crabs, bottom-dwelling invertebrates, clams, and clam worms.
That’s it, sorry again for the brief mail, I just have so much to do today before I leave for the States. Talk to you tomorrow, Barry
Aug 27, 10 Comments Off on Peacock Flounder, Odd Shaped Fish, Curacao
Good morning friends, OUR INTERNET AT HOME IS OUT! Yesterday Aimee tried and tried to get someone to come out and fix it but no one came! UTS and TDS are both two of the worst companies on planet EARTH, “that’s our TV and Phone providers”, trying to get repair service is just plain awful! My poor Aimee waited all day for them to call or come by but no such luck and ended up almost in tears at the end of the day as they had her on hold for hours. These are the things we hate about living here. So not sure when it will be fixed, just keep checking back here for updates.
Yesterday I did two dives again but having some camera problems, I will be taking all my gear with me to the States soon for repair. This is a little Peacock Flounder I found in our bay yesterday and just had to stop and take a photo. I am always amazed at how well they blend in with their environment and how cool they look just laying there on top of the sand.
Again sorry about the short e-mail, I am at work and need to get ready for a sub-dive. I hope all is well with everyone, I am sure I have a million e-mails waiting by now.
See you tomorrow, Barry
Aug 26, 10 Comments Off on Iguana at the Curacao Sea Aquarium
Good morning all, my internet is out at home so I am unable to send any e-mails out, I am doing this from our computer at work! Living in Curacao has really made Aimee and I aware of how much we take the basic life essentials for granted. There are many days here when the power is out all day, we have no gas for the car, internet comes and goes on a daily basis and tying to get something fixed like the t.v, or car can be just plain crazy. Aimee is off today and will try and get someone to come fix our DSL but I told her good-luck with that.
Yesterday we did two training dives during the day but the visibility here is still terrible! Our first dive was down to 100 feet and soon after we spotted a big Lionfish that we had planned on going back to catch on the second dive but never found him due to poor visibility. We have coral researchers here at the moment from all over the World getting ready for the late night coral spawning that will take place this week. I think tonight is the first night but not sure yet if I am able to make it, having some camera-flash problems.
Here’s a beautiful Iguana we have at work, he sits right there on that rock most of the day basking in the sun.
Sorry so short, see you back here tomorrow, Barry
Aug 25, 10 Comments Off on Dolphin Scuba Encounter at the Dolphin Academy
Good morning all, after work yesterday I raced home and met a friend for a fast and fun mountain bike ride and then worked on my three weeks of underwater blog photos that I will post for you on my web site when I leave. I am still trying to train a new person at work, progress is slow due to camera problems and bad ocean conditions. I am really worried about leaving for vacation right now as I am the only one really trained to take the sub photos, it’s one of those “it’s not as easy as it looks” kind of things.
Here’s another DSE Dolphin Scuba Encounter photo by request this morning. We always hear guests asking, “do dolphins like to be pet”?? The answer is yes! And listen guys if they didn’t like it they would leave! You can’t make a dolphin do anything they don’t want to do. Like the trainers always tell me, the good behavior is rewarded and the bad is just ignored. I highly recommend any and all of you to come do this Dolphin Scuba Encounter, it’s one of the most fun things I have ever done, you can check it out at www.dolphin-academy.com
I am running a little late already, it’s coral spawning week but don’t know if I will have time to go or not? It rained most of the night which is great as things were starting to really look dry around here. See you tonight, Barry
Aug 23, 10 Comments Off on Colorful Trupial, Caribbean Birds, Curacao Birds
Hi friends, not a whole lot to report this evening. I forgot to tell everyone that when I leave on the 1st, (about a week from now) that there will be NO daily blogs sent out as e-mails! Sorry. BUT, I will try hard to post a new photo every day on my www.coralreefphotos.com site, so you can still go there for your daily dose of “Life on Curacao”. I am in the process this evening of getting 21 underwater photos all ready to go and I will take them with me on the trip and post them when I can on my website, so please tune in when you can. I plan on being very busy every day and just won’t have time to be on the computer but when I return the e-mails will continue for those lucky enough to still be on the list.
Here’s a beautiful Trupial for you all this evening that I found on a dog walk the other day. These birds are very difficult to approach unless of course you are feeding them or your really fast with your camera. I put out corn and other seed every day for my birds here in the yard but the Trupials won’t come near it! The thing they love most is table scraps or just bread! Their sound is so cool! The downside to these guys is that they are mean to other birds, they always chase off my smaller yellow sparrows that’s why I quit feeding them, if they can’t play nice they can go find food somewhere else!
We had a quiet day and the ocean was rough and dirty. Tomorrow I have two friends of mine paying for a sub ride at 11:00, it will be great to photograph them underwater. Off to bed, later, Barry
Aug 22, 10 Comments Off on Colorful Fish, Yellow Frogfish, Caribbean Fish
Good evening one and all, we are officially tired! I left the house at 7:00 this morning and took the dogs for a two hour walk at Saint Joris. Since we were there I decided to go check out my new one mile of single track that I put in a few months ago and see if it was getting any use. We walked for about five minutes when all of a sudden we heard voices coming from behind and I looked over the tops of the brush and could see rider after rider heading our way. I can’t tell you what a great feeling it is to see bikers and hikers all using a trail I built, it’s very rewarding! I was holding a rake and broom when they passed and I said “how do you like the trail”?? They all stopped and asked if I built this which then turned into an even more rewarding morning filled with compliments and thanks, I was glowing with satisfaction when they left. Other bikers also found their way onto the trail and also a big group of hikers all loving this new found trail that takes you thru some really beautiful Curacao landscape.
I then spent a good part of the afternoon packing for my trip to the States even though I don’t leave for 8 more days. At 4:30 I took off on the bike for an hour ride and let me tell you it was HOT!! It’s amazing how fast one can drink 2 full water bottles when your out riding in the sun and the ice-cubes I put in before I left were gone in 5 minutes!
At 5:30 Aimee and I took the dogs over to our friends Rob and Michelle’s house who live on Spanish Water. Rob has a little boat and we loaded Indi and Inca and we took them to a deserted island in the middle of Spanish Water where we met other friends and more dogs for a super fun evening walk. The dogs ran and ran and did a little swimming, it was really great to see a new part of the island that I didn’t even know existed. We had to take the boat back and it was almost dark when we arrived back at the car, our dogs are now fast asleep!
Here’s another shot of the new frogfish at Vaersenbaai. Yesterday when we were there he was very hard to find and had moved a long ways away from where we had last spotted him a week ago. This time he was hiding underneath a big brown tube sponge which made it impossible to photograph, so good thing I got his picture the week before. I shot this with my 105 2.8 macro which if you do a lot of macro you would know what an accomplishment that is, shooting a large object with macro can be tough! This frogfish is just beautiful and obviously very easy to spot on the reef.
Game over, see you tomorrow, Barry
Aug 22, 10 Comments Off on Juvenile Cleaning Goby Perched on Maze Coral
Good morning friends, sorry about the morning mail again, I just can’t seem to get these out in the evening lately, there’s just too much to do. Yesterday we all had to go into work as we had a family of four wanting to take a tour in the sub and Saturday was the only day they could do it. We ended up not leaving till 1:00 but after I got my dive gear ready and met some friends again at Vaersenbaai for an afternoon dive. The downside was, it was the worst visibility I have ever seen in Curacao but who cares when you have a macro lens in your hands. I found tiny creature after tiny creature and kept busy the whole dive and for once I felt like I brought the right lens. I found this juvenile Cleaning Goby perched high on top of a blade of Maze Coral and was shocked at how brave he was. This little guy was only around 1/4th of an inch in length. I laid on the sand and moved in as close as I could and he never moved, he just sat there watching wondering what was going on. I am not real sure what kind of Goby this is, it’s not a Sharknose for sure and even the Cleaning goby has a Sharknose type face as well, let me know if you have any ideas.
This morning I am taking the dogs for a long overdo walk at Saint Joris so I better get moving, talk to you again soon, Barry
Aug 21, 10 Comments Off on Graysby Sea Bass Cleaning Station, Barrel Sponge
Good evening all, how was your day? Mine of course was busy and fun starting out with doing some more photos from inside the sub at around 400 feet. We did about a two hour tour looking for the most beautiful scenic areas we could find and once located we would stop and do little photo shoots along the way. We found two big Lionfish hanging out together at around 185 feet under a giant anchor and also found the new Nicky fish today at around 300 feet and not just one, lots of them. Later in the afternoon we did a fun deep dive down to 132 feet. We swam straight out in front of the substation and down we went as I wanted to check out some sponges and corals I saw from the sub earlier that morning. On our way back up to safer depths I found this Graysby Sea Bass sitting inside a Netted Barrel sponge being cleaned by a Sharknose Goby. Normally this Sea Bass spends all day chasing and eating smaller fish but would never think about eating this little guy. This Sharknose Goby has a free “you can’t eat me card” as this is a cleaner fish and without them we would have a lot of sick fish on the reef! Talk about a great home as well, it’s a sponge with a million dollar view! I laid here for quite awhile and watched, there is just so much activity happening on the reef, you just need to slow down and look!
That’s about it, I have to work tomorrow as well, we have a family of four doing the sub at 10:00 but will probably go do something fun after.
Have a great weekend, Barry
Aug 20, 10 Comments Off on Juvenile Dusky Damselfish, Baby Reef Fish
Hello friends, it’s almost 9:00 in the evening and I am sitting here as tired as can be and seem to have a bad case of the non-stop yawns! I had a busy day at work. I did two sub dives for walk in customers, one in the morning and one in the afternoon and in between I trained my new person mostly on PhotoShop. After work I geared up and took off on a fast one hour ride but just didn’t have my normal energy, diving and biking do not mix!!
Here’s a little tiny Juvenile Dusky Damselfish I found the other day while shooting macro at Vaersenbaai. These little treasures start their lives out being very colorful fish but will grow up to be an ugly dull black color. As an adult this fish will become very territorial and is known to frequently chase away divers and fish that are much bigger than they are! These are also the fish that are currently doing so much damage on the reef by making those “coral gardens” I have told you about, they just don’t seem to have many enemies! This guy here was about the size of your fingernail, super tiny and very hard to photograph!
Off to bed, thanks for all the great notes, Barry
Aug 18, 10 Comments Off on Mini Submarine, Curacao Sub-Station, Mini-Sub
Good evening friends, tonight’s photo is dedicated to our friend Arjan who we worked with for years and recently moved back to Holland to start a bed and breakfast getaway. At around 300 feet out in front of the Curacao Sea Aquarium there is a big rock with the most beautiful yellow and red Deep Water Gorgonian on it that you will ever see! Arjan and Dutch first found this place while diving here many years back, and yes you read that right, they used to dive to this place with tanks! Ok, not just any tanks, they used mixed gasses and carried multiple tanks at once and would have to spend hours decompressing on the way back to the surface. Remember folks, for most people diving to 100 to 130 feet is considered the maximum for regular scuba diving but these guys went a step further and trained how to go super deep, it’s called tec diving and it can be very dangerous but also very rewarding. So apparently Arjan was the first to discover this place and now it’s one of the many stops we make during “The Beauty Run” in the new Curacao Mini-Sub. This is Kendra on the left and Nicky on the right this morning during a super fun tour we took exploring the reef and looking for new creatures. Our goal was to find a new deep water fish that lives at around 400 feet that is being named after Nicky but we never found one. You just can’t imagine all the beautiful stuff there is to look at way down below the Earths surface, creatures and fish that only a handful of humans have ever seen! You can see the little red numbers above Nicky’s head reading our current depth, I love watching that thing as we go deeper and deeper and just can’t believe how lucky we all are to see such things! Our Beauty Run tour lasts around an hour and starts out at about 185 feet. We usually go to a giant sunken anchor first that is just filled with fish and teaming with life. We then fly over fields of beautiful sponges on our way to the two sunken tug boats then drop down to a place called “Jeff’s Ledge” which is exploding in colors to beautiful to even describe! After that it’s down deeper to “Arjans Rock” and then deeper to 400 to 500 feet exploring the walls and sandy patches for new and unusual creatures. We had two ladies today from England who took this tour as well in the afternoon and just loved it,! So again for those of you visiting Curacao or already here stop by or call us to make a reservation, you will not be disappointed! Again it’s www.substation-curacao.com or call +5999-465-2051 and remember you get a photo shoot with me as well underwater included in the price, I can take your photos inside or outside it’s all up to you!
Aimee had the day off and took the dogs to Saint Joris for a great morning of fun in the sun! Unfortunately we no longer have a day off together any more, I am hoping that we can eventually fix that once the sub station gets more under way.
Off to bed, see you tomorrow, Barry
Check out Arjans new place, it ROCKS! www.itflinkeboskje.nl
Aug 18, 10 Comments Off on Tiny Nudibranch, Caribbean Nudibranch, Curacao
Good morning all, look what I found yesterday! Cool huh? Months ago Mark, from the World famous Dive Bus Hut and I were diving the Superior and he found one of these but at the time I was holding a 10.5mm wide angle lens and the most we could do was take pictures in our heads! So yesterday as I was out waiting for the sub to come out of the channel I looked down and spotted another! I again had the wrong camera but at least this time I had another diver with me. What I did was hand my camera off to my friend and gently scooped him up with a little piece of plastic and slowly carried him back up to the surface. Once at the sub platform I yelled for someone to grab me a plastic container with holes, I then set him in there and left him under our platform in the sand while I got out and prepared another camera with a macro lens in another housing. I think I was only out for around five minutes. I again jumped in the water, swam down to the bottom with my new camera and gently picked up my colorful nudibranch (who was crawling all around the inside of the plastic container). I then swam back out the channel and down to 50 feet to the exact spot I had found him and let him out for his little photo shoot. Once released he went right back to his feeding and I shot away. This little Caribbean beauty is only a 1/2 an inch long by 1/4th of an inch wide, he’s tiny!! There are more than 3,000 known species of nudibranch, and new ones are being identified almost daily. They are found throughout the word’s oceans, but are most abundant in shallow, tropical waters. Their scientific name, Nudibranchia, means naked gills, and describes the feathery gills and horns that most wear on their backs. I wish I could give you a name but so far I haven’t found it, if anyone knows please drop me a line, it’s another first for the Browns.
My other exciting thing that happened yesterday was that we almost flooded a camera! We started using an older Nikon D-200 yesterday that will be used mainly for the sub. Well, we had already had the camera in the water when I found the nudibranch and it was fine but the second dive it started to leak and it started to leak bad! Thank goodness my friend Kevin was with me, he pointed to the front of the camera and the dome was quickly filling up with water but had not hit the lens let! I shot to the surface and held the camera up out of the water and at the same time un-clipped one of the main body clips and released the water! I then re-clipped it and swam to the rocks were people on shore raced over and grabbed it and took it back to the sub-station. The good news is the camera never got wet, we saved it but we don’t have a clue where it is leaking, that’s on the to-do list today. I have flooded 3 cameras since I have been doing this and finally have learned how to save them. Get that camera to the surface, keep it up-right at all times and release the trapped water as fast as you can, it works!
After work I met 3 other friends for a fast one hour bike ride, other than breaking my chain in half it was a great ride!
I need to get moving, have a wonderful day, enjoy the nudibranch he’s just for you! Barry
Aug 17, 10 Comments Off on Warty Corallimorph, Cnidarians, Colorful Creatures
Good morning all. Last night after work we immediately went with some friends out to the airport for dinner to celebrate a new restaurant that just opened, WENDY’S!!! It’s the first time I have had a fast food meal in years and it was great! The only bad part of the whole mission was once we got there we found out they didn’t have their World famous Frostys yet! But they said it’s on the way! Yesterday I stayed pretty busy at work. I first started to train a new person then went snorkeling for three hours and finally we did a sub dive which I took photos of. We have a channel of sorts that the sub comes in and out from and yesterday we spent some time removing some big underwater rocks with the crane. Those of us in the water helped our diver by bringing him big ropes to tie the stones with and then once tied we would give the signal to lift, the stones were then set in a better area. Curacao was hot yesterday, it’s starting to look like the rains are gone now for quite awhile! I am back to my routine again of hauling water out to the desert for my birds each day filling up the bird baths we made, they seem to love them!
Here is another shot from our trip to Vaersenbaai. This is a colony of Warty Corallimorphs that I found at around 35 feet out on the reef. This is actually something we don’t see to often especially in big number like we saw there. For those of you thinking you have seen thousands of these at the Superior site in the shallows, those are different, they are called Sun Anemones. Corallimorphs are very easily confused with Anemones! The best visual clue to the orders identity is the arrangement of the tentacles, which form two geometric patterns concurrently. The tentacles radiate out from the center of the oral disk, like spokes, and form concentric circles which progressively increase in diameter from the center.
I got up at 5:00am just for you guys today so never let it be said I don’t love you! I apologize for not posting the frogfish on my website yesterday, not sure how I forgot that but it’s there now.
Time to get ready for another big day, be back tonight, Barry