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 October, 2010

Oct 31, 10     Comments Off on White Christmas Tree Worm, Caribbean Coral Bleaching
Hi Earthlings, how’s that weekend treating you? We are currently getting dumped on with a big rainstorm most likely from Tropical Storm Tomas as it passed by. Today was a lazy o’l Sunday for once and we really didn’t do much of anything!! I took the dogs for an hour and a half walk this morning with our new friends from an area near London. The walk was beautiful with it being so green and all but by the time we got back to the car we all looked like we had jumped in the ocean, it was so humid! Other than going to the grocery store and stopping at the sea glass beach we all spent the day hiding in our Caribbean cave.
Here is another shot from our dives yesterday. This is a white Christmas Tree Worm sitting high atop a big head of Bleached Star coral. For the worm it’s just another day in paradise as they can not move from home to home, this is again his home and no matter what he will continue to live here. I see many dead corals that did not survive for one reason or another and the worms as seen here are still alive and happy. As you may or may not know already, Christmas Tree Worms burrow into the surface of coral. They use their feathery appendages to filter tiny plankton out of the water column. The gills have a dual function, they allow the worm to breathe and collect the plankton which the worms eat and when disturbed, the worms will quickly retreat into their burrows and slowly emerge again after a while, if you Avatar you know what I am talking about!
Time to go push water out of the driveway and dinner is almost ready! Be back tomorrow, Barry
Oct 31, 10     Comments Off on Sharknose Goby, Bleached Coral, Coral Bleaching
Good morning all, I had a super fun day of diving yesterday with my new friend Richard from London. We did two dives in front of the Curacao Sea Aquarium and the water for once was crystal clear! Both dives I carried a macro lens as I really wanted to capture some of the unique shots that were happening due to all this Coral Bleaching happening right now. One of the first and coolest things I found was this tiny, beautiful Sharknose Goby resting on a sheet of completely Bleached Grooved Brain Coral. This is actually a pretty powerful photo because even though his personal piece of coral is dying he is not leaving, it’s his home and he will stay as long as he possibly can! Remember there is a chance that if the seas start to cool now or soon this piece of coral like others will heal itself and start to come back to life and maybe the Goby knows this. These tiny cleaning fish are very territorial so it will take more than this to get him to abandon his home, from where I was sitting it looked like he was laying on snow or ice. There was recently an article in the Washington Post that many of you should read on “the value of nature to world’s economies” and how we have underestimated the economic value of nature! http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/10/20/AR2010102000452.html
Here is the link above, please pass it on to others there is still so much we can do to help. I fear in the not so distant future we may be all sitting on our own piece of Bleached Coral wondering what will happen next, the Earth is going down hill fast!
I have heard that Hurricane Tomas has turned North, good news for us bad news AGAIN for Haiti! Geez those poor people! I sure home they are able to start seeking some kind of shelter today or at least get away from the spots that will or could get hit the hardest!
Hope your all having a great Sunday, remember if any of you want to go to Fiji with me diving drop me a line or check out the daily from yesterday to register, it will be a great time. And it goes without saying that there will be fantastic pictures and stories headed your way with that trip!
I am doing a private underwater photo shoot this week with Frank and Andy Schleck (Tour de France champs) as they do a fun snorkel with the dolphins, so stay tuned for that, I can hardly wait!
Off to the trail, more tonight, Barry
Oct 30, 10     Comments Off on Coral Reef Scene, Coral Reef Photos, Colorful Reefs
Good morning from Curacao. As some of you know we have Hurricane Tomas heading our way and should be in the area around Sunday. From the charts I have seen the eye is hundreds of miles away but I am sure we will see big waves and rain just the same. Most Hurricanes start down here in these warm waters and then head all the way up to the States generating speed and power the whole way up. I did take my normal precautionary storm warming steps by going to the store and buying bottled water and dried foods yesterday just in case, better to be safe than sorry.
Yesterday I did four dives and went to bed sooooo tired! I did 3 very short sub dives all lasting about 10 minutes each and one dive to the Superior Producer. I met some Americans staying at Royal Resorts and they wanted to go dive the Superior but had no idea how to find it. So since I had a few hours to kill in between sub dives we loaded up their rental van and took off to the Mega Pier. There was a big cruise ship parked at the Mega Pier but no one seemed to care about us doing a dive underneath it so off we went! The trip was fast and great! We took a few shots on deck and explored the ship but minutes later we had to leave, our time was up. On the way back we saw a baby Green Turtle laying in the corals but when I approached for a shot he took off. I think we set some kind of Superior Dive record yesterday for getting in and out and being back in a little over an hour!
Yesterday I signed up for a dive to Beqa (pronounced Benga) Lagoon Resort in Fiji, for 2012! There are still spots available for anyone wanting to dive with me and maybe learn a little photography or who just want to dive with a great group of folks from my home town in Rapid City, SD, check out the attachment to register and learn more.
Below is yet another beautiful Coral Reef Setting with a Large Cupped Boulder Star coral on the bottom and a beautiful Gorgonian on the top, I just love this stuff!
Time to walk the dogs, see you, Barry
Oct 29, 10     Comments Off on Global Warming, Warming Seas, Coral Bleaching, Curacao
Good morning friends and readers how are you all doing today? I had yesterday off with Aimee for a change. We met some friends that are here from London and took them out for a nice hour hike along the coast which was just beautiful with all this green! When we got to the ocean it was as calm as a lake so I emptied my pockets and dove in followed by to great swimming dogs! I usually swim out a ways until it’s deep enough for me to stand and wait for the dogs to come to me, they love to be held out there or rest on my lap, Aimee says it looked so finny from shore. After a shower for everyone we headed into town for a delicious breakfast at Deli France and then went grocery shopping. Next I did something I never do, I took a nap with Aimee, yes I slept the day away! I was just so tired still from last nights dive and not getting much sleep as I got home at around 11:30. The dive was uneventful, just lots and lots of terrible coral bleaching.
Speaking of coral bleaching here is a new shot from just a few days ago. This is Boulder Star Coral that is really beginning to bleach. This particular coral head has been one of my favorites for years and I have kind of adopted it as my own. This coral head has been used in countless photos either with divers or with fish and has recently been published in the new “Our Coral Reef” Book that is only available in Curacao. My buddy Gordy Cox shot all the reef pictures for the first edition which sold out fast but the second edition has about 10 of my pictures and one of them is this exact coral head. We have a coral expert working at the Aquarium who says she noticed some of the bleaching getting better but so far I haven’t seen it, the reef in the worst shape I have ever seen it and this rain is not helping!
I need to get to work, talk to you more later, Barry
Oct 27, 10     Comments Off on Slit Shell, Entemnotrochus adansonianus, Pleurotomariids
Good evening readers, here’s something wonderful for you all this evening. This is called a Slit Shell or for you guys that like the scientific names it’s called Entemnotrochus adansonianus, Crosse & Fisher, 1861. This is the shallowest occurring and most commonly collected pleurotomariid in the Western Atlantic with a range that extends from Bermuda to Southern Brazil. Slit Shells of this species live at depths of 180 feet to 700 feet so it’s safe to say that not many folks will ever see one while out diving! In the rest of the Western Atlantic, there are three species of pleurotomariids that co-occur in any given area, but they are not sympatric as they occur at different depths. We found this one sitting on a rocky ledge at around 500 feet with the sub and ever so carefully picked it up with a powerful vacuum hose and gently dropped it into a padded bucket. It’s safe to say that most shell collectors will cry when they see this, it’s an absolute flawless thing of beauty! Once again I find myself asking “why is everything so colorful at such deep depths”?? I mean it’s really dark down there, why are fish and shells so colorful?? Is there some magical alien light that we don’t know about that comes up from the deep each night lighting up these creatures so they look their best when mating with their species? Please all thought are welcome. We have scientists coming from the Smithsonian next month who are very interested in these shells and will be in the sub exploring the reef in search of new and unusual creatures and fish. Needless to say these shells are worth a lot of money and the slit on this specimen goes around the whole shell or 180 degrees, that alone is unreal! We are one of the first companies ever to not only find them in their natural habitat but we are also able to study them and find out how they live and what they eat plus photographing them in their natural surroundings. On any given sub dive with Substation Curacao you have a very good chance of seeing a Slit Shell in person, so come on over and see us for a ride you won’t soon forget.
It’s still raining, the island went from a desert to a South American jungle almost overnight! My trails are a complete mess and most of them are going to have to be trimmed just to get thru, the bush is growing like weeds!
I better run, I am doing a night dive tonight at 9:30 in hopes of seeing some coral spawning, be back tomorrow, see ya, Barry
Oct 27, 10     Comments Off on Purple Stove Pipe Sponges, Colorful Reef fish, Curacao
Hi guys, “M” is the word for today, mud, moisture, muck, and mosquitoes!! Rain, rain, rain!! Because of all this rain biking has ceased, our hiking at Saint Joris is a thing of the past and our dog walks are short and fast ending with showers at home the minute we walk in the door. Yesterday I spent most of the day in my little studio shooting shells again as there were no sub dives. Today I think we have two sub dives in the afternoon meaning I will be in the water a lot today. I really don’t have a whole lot for you all today things are quiet and wet.
Coral bleaching here in the Caribbean continues to worsen by the day and this rain is not helping at all! I am going to try and do a dive on our Sea Aquarium “House Reef” this morning to get a first hand look at the damage.
Here is another fun reef scene for you all day that we found in front of the glass beach that we go to all the time. This is a big cluster of Purple Stove Pipe sponges sitting on top of a big mound of Starlet coral. The stripped fish at the base of the sponges is a juvenile Princess Parrotfish, the others are Brown Chromis, a Bluehead wrasse and a little yellow juvenile Threespot Damselfish.
I better get moving, thanks for all your comments we read them all. Barry
Oct 26, 10     Comments Off on Colorful Reef Fish, Artistic Composition, School of Fish
Good morning all, sorry about the late blog but yesterday was busy from start till finish. I went into work at 8:00 and did a sub dive at 9:00 and when I got out it started raining. This rain turned into one of the biggest downpour events we have seen in quite awhile and within minutes the ocean turned an awful color of brownish yellow from all the dirt flowing into it! When it stopped I took off to my house carrying a new Slit Shell that was recently found at 500 feet with the sub. I have a little studio set up at home and started photographing it when the phone rang, it was work saying we have a walk-in customer, how fast can you get back here and do another photo shoot with sub? So I put the shell in the refrigerator and ran back to work, did the dive and took photos and by 1:00 I was back home again to finish what I had started. Some of you may remember the last Slit Shell I sent out that we found a few years back, well this one we have now is much bigger about the size of a softball and much for colorful and is considered one of the most valuable shells on Earth, I will send a photo when I can. I ended up spending all day shooting this thing which worked out perfect as it poured off and on the whole day. At 5:00 I took the dogs out to the now exploding Curacao jungle and the dogs did a very fast run thru the pools and pools of standing water and mud, what a mess! This could be some kind of record for the most moisture this year and now the mosquitoes will be even worse, not a big fan of the rainy season!
This one’s for Aimee today who loves when I take a normal color photo and zap it with a little crazy-ness! These are my new buddies that I swim with every day, the beautiful Boga’s. Boy talk about a territorial fish, this school has not moved in three months they are out there every time I go out and I just love swimming with them.
Off to work, it rained all night, it’s such a mess outside! See you tonight, Barry
Oct 24, 10     Comments Off on Orange Elephant Ear Sponge, Colorful Sponges, Curacao
Greetings from the Curacao sea shore this fine Sunday evening. I pray you all had a wonderful and productive weekend or at least let’s hope you did because we all know what day it is tomorrow. I had to go into work this morning as we had a guy here from CNN who did a sub dive with us. I have no idea what his plans are or where we will see a story and pictures but will let you know when I hear something. I left work around noon and had the rest of the day off. I managed to keep myself busy all afternoon and was nice to just kick back and do nothing. Aimee is feeling better, she got home early today from work and we both watched a movie on HBO that I have seen a zillion times called “Outbreak” but Aimee had never seen it? After that she went to collect beach glass and I took the dogs to the jungle, that’s our day in paradise!
Here’s a spectacular weird shaped Elephant Ear Sponge I found out in front of Zanzibar the other day while doing the dive with the sub. Usually these sponges look like the one in the background but this one was a beautiful full size barrel and it was just screaming to have it’s picture taken.
That’s all for tonight, see you tomorrow, Barry
Oct 23, 10     Comments Off on Reef Urchin, Echinoderms, Sea Urchins, Caribbean Creatures
Good evening readers, I hope your day off was as good as mine. I won’t bore you with same o’l stuff, but I did get a whole lot done today in between our on and off rain showers. Our island is so green and wet that we had government people come around this week to all the houses checking for any standing water because it is home to Mosquito eggs. Dengue is all over the island right now so they were checking to make sure that we had no pools of standing water. They did empty my bird bath water but I change that everyday anyways so there could not have been any eggs in there.
I keep forgetting to give you the Discovery Channel link here it is thanks to my mom. Somewhere in that clip you will see yours truly outside the sub underwater swim by with my giant camera, that was my brief second of fame. http://www.youtube.com/substationcuracao Tomorrow morning we have a sub dive for CNN, I will keep you posted on that as well. Those of you flying American Airlines this month have already seen the American Way magazine in all the seat backs dedicated to Curacao and the Substation, I have a full page picture inside the front cover.
Here’s a little treasure I found last night as I was getting out, this is an uncommon Reef Urchin. I do not see that many of these and only have a few photos so I was very excited about seeing him last night. These little three inch urchins spend all day in the darkness and safety of the reef and only come out at night to feed on algae.
Well, I still have lots of computer work to do tonight, see you tomorrow, Barry
Oct 23, 10     Comments Off on Starlet Coral, Netted Vase Sponge, Fire Coral, Reef Scene
Good morning, it’s weekend time!! I had such a crazy day at work yesterday. We towed the sub all the way to Zanzibar Resort first thing in the morning as kind of a “show and tell” for the folks arriving to spend the day at the beach. I think it took close to an hour to pull it there as it’s about two and a half miles. We towed it so we would not loose any battery power and would have a fresh sub for tours and for the trip back. I borrowed a car and drove to Zanzibar and as soon as I got there I got set up and ready to get in the water. The sub arrived right on time and as expected crowds of people jumped up off their beach chairs and came over to see this new found wonder. Within minutes and after signing wavers we had a full sub and off they went out towards the reef. Since the reef here is further out I held onto the sub for a ride out and once there they came to a stop above the beautiful corals and I shot away. It usually only takes me about 2-3 minutes to take my 20-30 photos and then with a friendly wave to the captain I am finished and swim off watching the sub slowly descend into the darkness of the reef. I then spent close to an hour exploring the reef since I was there I figured why not. When I got back to shore there was no sub, they were still out so I walked up to the parking lot and rinsed my gear and camera and headed back to the Sea Aquarium. After lunch I went home to my little home-made studio and photographed a rare split-shell and then had to go back to Zanzibar to pick up a colleague. At 5:00 I got my dive gear ready again and the camera re-loaded and when the sub returned at around 6:00 I went for a dusk/night-dive. In short the dive was great, I didn’t get home till late as I also went to dinner with the gang after and by the time I got home it was game over!
Here’s a cool photo I found the other day, this is a Starlet coral on the bottom with a beautiful Netted Vase sponge on the top and Fire Coral inside the vase, I love it!
It’s late, I have to go, I have the day off! See ya, Barry
Oct 21, 10     Comments Off on Curacao Coast Guard, Royal Navy, Bombardier Dash 8-102

Hey gang, as may or may not know our island is patrolled everyday by Coast Guard planes and helicopters. With its remote beaches, tourist traffic and ties to Europe and being so close to Venezuela, this palm-fringed Dutch corner of the Caribbean is a paradise – for drug traffickers. The Royal Netherlands Navy in the Caribbean plays an important role in upholding the international rule of law. Given the geographical location of the islands, this particularly involves fighting international drug trafficking by sea. The Royal Netherlands Navy in the Caribbean therefore works in close coordination with the international drug-fighting organization Joint Interagency Task Force South, located in Key West, Florida. I think this is a Bombardier Dash 8-102 or it’s the 106, I can’t tell. This plane flies low and fast almost daily in front of the Sea Aquarium and for years I have been photographing it as it flew by. That’s the famous Queen Juliana Bridge in the background, it stands 185 feet above sea level and is the highest bridge in the Caribbean and one of the Highest in the World. As you can see our island is really green right now and with more rain today it is sure to stay this way for awhile now.

Aimee was home sick again all day but is feeling a little better, I told her not to go in to work tomorrow but knowing her she will go in anyways! Take care all, be back soon, Barry
Oct 21, 10     Comments Off on Baby Fish, Baby Sergeant Majors, Fish Eggs, Curacao
Hi friends, here’s something cool I found for you all today, these are baby Sergeant Majors still in their individual little egg sacks, neat huh? Look close and can see the eyes and developing body parts, they are just hours away from being on their own. Sergeant Major Damsel Fish get their names from the five black stripes over there bodies that resemble those of a Sergeant Major insignia. These fish spawn and then glue their eggs on rocks, shipwrecks, pilings, and reef outcroppings where the male sergeant major prepares the nest. Courtship rituals include males actively chasing the female during the morning hours. During this time, the males build nests. During spawning, approximately 200,000 eggs are released. These eggs are salmon or red colored, oval-shaped, and 0.5-0.9 mm in diameter. Upon fertilization, the eggs turn greenish at 96 hours and contain a deep red yolk. An adhesive filament attaches the egg to the bottom substrate. The male Sergeant Major takes on a bluish color while guarding the fertilized eggs. He guards them until they hatch which occurs within 155-160 hours following fertilization. This guarding of the eggs, characteristic of the family Pomacentridae, is unusual since most reef fishes have a planktonic stage. The larvae reach 2.4 mm in length approximately 36 hours after hatching. They are deep-bodied, with the caudal and pectoral fins visible, prominent lips, and well-developed jaw bones. As I came in close for a shot today the male guarding these eggs did everything he could think of to get me away from his babies, they are very aggressive! After I backed off he then went back to work guarding the eggs and chasing off fish after fish that swam in to try and eat his children. Most of the time these eggs will not survive as schools of fish will charge the Sergeant Major all at once and there is nothing he can do but watch, it’s a fish eat fish World out there! 
My dear wife was home sick all day on her day off. Before work this morning I took the dogs on a fast bike ride and we got caught in an insane downpour, needless to say we all came home wet and muddy!
Hope all is well, see you tomorrow, Barry
Oct 19, 10     Comments Off on Severe Coral Bleaching, Global Warming, Warming Sea’s
Hello again friends, family and new readers. As promised here is another very sad photo which should bring tears to your eyes if your at all concerned about this little place we call home or Planet Earth! Weeks ago this was a giant ball of living “colorful” coral called Grooved Brain Coral but now it’s bleaching and close to dead, the only living part left is that small section of brown in the middle and by now it’s probably gone as well. As I have said before the seas are much to warm which in turn is causing our corals to bleach and all kinds of alga’s to grow and take over. High sea temperatures can cause corals to eject the symbiotic algae or zooxanthellae’ that normally produce food for the coral. This makes corals appear bleached, and can ultimately kill the coral. While coral bleaching is not a disease, some scientists have linked it to a virus in zooxanthellae which is triggered by heat. Some corals can recover from bleaching if the sea cools. However, corals that have been bleached are weaker and more prone to attack from disease. Localized bleaching has been attributed to exposure to high light levels, increased ultraviolet radiation, temperature or salinity extremes, high turbidity and sedimentation resulting in reduced light levels, and other abiotic factors. In addition, bleaching in some species has occurred in response to a bacterial infection. However, the seven major episodes of bleaching that have occurred since 1979 have been primarily attributed to increased sea water temperatures associated with global climate change and el Nila Nia events, with a possible synergistic effect of elevated ultraviolet and visible light. In short, ride your bikes or start car-pooling you really can make a difference!
I had a fairly quiet day at work, no diving! The sea is again calm as can be which is the worst possible thing for these corals, we need cool current moving across them not still warm water!
Thanks for the overwhelming amount of e-mails in the past few days, I am glad everyone is as concerned as I am. Just try to do something good for our planet every day, recycle something, ride the bike, clean up trash, it all helps! Again thanks to NOAA for some of the great text http://www.coris.noaa.gov
See you tomorrow, Barry
Oct 18, 10     Comments Off on Coral Disease, Black Band Disease, Dying Coral, Curacao
Oct 18, 10     Comments Off on Palm Trees, Tropical Setting, Diving with Veterans
Good evening everyone. I hope your weekend was a nice one. Aimee here, giving our daily blogger a quick break.  I hope this photo is a warm one for those of you that are just beginning to enter the winter weather. You can just pretend it is you laying under this nice palm, with a book in your hand, listening to the ocean on the sand.  Mmmmm, so nice.
Today’s mail has to do with a dive that Barry and I were lucky enough to be involved with this morning and is dedicated to all our service men and women out there, from each and every country that fights for the freedom and privileges that we all get to enjoy.   Today we had a special dolphin dive with a group of veterans from America.  I was quickly briefed before we entered the water that this was a dive for NBC-TV channel and military veterans. I would be video-tapping this dive, George would be taking Tela and Pasku out, and towards the end of the dive Barry and the submarine would join us also. So, being the naive woman I am, when you say the word “veteran” I think of older gentlemen.  I was obviously, completely wrong. When we met up with the divers underwater, the first thing I saw was that these men were strong, muscular, healthy young men in the prime of their lives. The second thing I saw was that each one was missing either an arm or a leg. To say the least, I was humbled.  Now, these men were having the time of their lives. I was afraid they were going to run out of air because several of them were doing karate chops to each other, or flipping in circles, using up lots of air. They were so fun to watch. When the dolphin joined us they all got quiet, their eyes got big and then they settled down and got to observe the dolphins up close and even get some great hands-on time.
Towards the end of the dive the submarine also joined us and Tela and Pasku were such troopers! They were a bit skittish, then they settled down and figured out that this big, crazy machine underwater was not going to eat them and instead became a bit curious towards it. The people in the sub (also from NBC) must have had quite a show with all the divers, the photographer and videographer and of course our superstars, Tela and Pasku.
So, I am glad, that just today, we got to give back a little bit to these men that have given us so much. Too much.  I am disappointed in myself that days go by that I forget that these brave people are putting their lives on the line, leaving their family and friends, and doing a most difficult job; protecting the rights, and honor of people and cultures around the world. My rights, my culture, my family and my friends.  I would like to say a big thank you to these men and women and all the others that have come before them. It is good that sometimes, somedays we are reminded about things we seem to take for granted each and every day. Today, for me none of that was taken for granted, and I am thankful for that.
Hope all is well out there, remember you can contact me directly at aimeedolphins@yahoo.com Take care, Aimee



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