ABOUT

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.

General

Archive for November, 2010

Nov 30, 10     Comments Off on Sailing in Curacao, Curacao Regatta, Floating Bridge

Good morning all, not a whole lot for my dedicated fans out there today, it’s been pretty quiet. Because of all this rain Curacao in general is having a slow tourist month, maybe one of the worst ever. The good news is that all the Christmas travelers will be here soon to make up for it, I just hope it stops raining long enough for them to enjoy the island. Yesterday this big bright light came from the sky, we think it was called the sun but moments later it was gone again so I can’t be sure?
 
I didn’t realize we had so many boat lovers on the list and I keep getting requests for more so like a good boy here’s another. I made you an “artsy sailboat photo” with the help of my friends at Photoshop, they can do wonders to a photo. This was the big sailboat named Galaxie and it’s crew was dressed in purple, they looked like they came to win but have no idea how they did in the actual race. That is the town of Outrabanda you see behind the boat and in front of that is the famous “floating bride” that opened just for the sailboat to come into the harbor. I always tell visitors with cameras, just drive to Punda, park your car and start walking towards the water. Curacao is one of those places that you could close your eyes and shoot your camera in any direction and most likely you will end up with some kind of fun and colorful photo, try it you will see!
 
Off to work, looks like more rain, Barry
Nov 29, 10     Comments Off on Bar Jack, Skipjack, Caranx Ruber, Caribbean Game Fish

Good morning readers, are we ready for another week?? Hey I know how you all are feeling this morning, just staring at the computer trying to remember what happened to the weekend. With this weather we seem to have now everyday my normal “being outside all day” and diving or playing has changed a bunch, the water has been so dirty for so long and the trails are a major mess! Yesterday I tried to walk the dogs in the morning but minutes into the walk a giant black storm cloud came into view and told us to go back home, and we did at top speed! No sooner had I parked the car and it began to pour again, I just couldn’t believe it! At 1:00 I decided rain or rain I was going riding and that was that! I took off on an hour and a half sprint to the North coast. I started the ride by going cross-country on the trails behind the Aquarium which where very muddy and overgrown but it was fun. Then after exiting the desert or jungle as we are now calling it, I headed to Koral Tabak (near Saint Joris) and did a big loop back to house on the road. I got caught in a few small rain showers and had to navigate around thousands of major water problems but all in all it was a fairly good time. At 5:00 I took the dogs for a nice wet/muddy walk for around an hour and again got chased out by more rain, fun, fun, fun! NOT!
 
Here is a big mean Bar Jack or “Skipjack for your viewing pleasure today, not my favorite fish because he chases and eats by Boga’s along with anything else he can find. Bar jacks are a common species on the coral reefs of the Caribbean and Atlantic. They get their name from the bright neon-blue bars that run down both sides of their back. The bar jack ranges from New Jersey through the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico but is uncommon in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico. This fish is also one you will find on many menus around the Caribbean as it highly sought after as a tasty dinner treat. When I am out photographing the Boga’s they often make a rapid, close pass (possibly attracted by my bubbles) and often an entire school will swirl around me as I dive. This particular Bar jack was around 24 inches in length, that’s about full size for this species. Also I must add that these are one of the fastest swimming fish I have ever seen especially as they dart into a school of fish in full attack mode, it happens so fast that it’s over before you know it! It’s a fish eat fish World out there, probably the most true saying I have ever come across!
 
Off to work, have a great day, Barry
Nov 28, 10     Comments Off on Curacao Water Taxi’s, Punda, Insulinde, Curacao

Good morning guys, it’s still raining here and from the looks of it there is more to come! Yesterday morning I loaded up a bunch of long scrap wood pieces and took them and the dogs over the other side of the salt ponds to build another bridge. We have a trail here that goes along a power-line and at the bottom is now a big muddy mess of water due to all this rain and most folks can’t get thru it. So yesterday I carried a bunch of wood down there and made a so-so bridge to walk across it, it’s not the best but it will work for now. After that we ventured further and began cutting a small new trail to route folks around another very bad area, I didn’t get it done but should have it finished this morning. The rest of my day was spent doing errands like shopping and laundry but did get to the glass beach for some fun collecting. I was trying to remember when we last saw the sun around here for more than five minutes but I can’t remember, I am really tired of all this rain.
 
Here’s another photo from my day at the sailing regatta a few weeks ago. Because the sailboats were all in the harbor and lined up at the start/finish line the floating bridge was closed and the two water taxi’s were open for business. This strange looking boat or water taxi takes people from Punda to Otrabanda in just minutes and it’s one of the few things on Curacao that’s free. So for instance if a big cruise ship comes in or a big oil tanker they use these boats to get folks back and forth while our normal “floating bridge” is closed. The big ship to the right with the rusted anchor is the one and only Insulinde, a cruise ship of sorts that takes people on trips all over the island in rustic style!
 
Well it looks like rain again, I better get the dogs out, have a great weekend, Barry
Nov 26, 10     Comments Off on Wreck Diving, Mini-Sub, Sunken Tugboats, Curacao

Good evening from rainy o’l Curacao! Today I did a great deep dive to 148 feet! At 9:00 this morning our team pulled the sub out of the garage and put it in the water while I got my camera and dive gear ready for a 1st ever dive to the tugboats with the sub. This time instead of diving from shore the plan was to load the boat with our gear and when the sub radio’s that they are on the tugboats we will then just go straight down and meet them! Well for once the plan went perfectly! While waiting for the sub to reach the tugboats we got hit with a big rain storm in the boat and even though we all had wet-suits on it was still cold! I had two safety divers with me today, Johnny and Bruce and once we got the call from deep below we rolled off the side of the boat and down we went! It only took 2-3 minutes to get down to 148 feet where the sub was parked and waiting and I immediately started shooting! While I shot my photos the other two went on a quick Lionfish run and cleaned up a few from the sides of the tugs, we don’t need them eating all our small fish. I was only down there for four minutes then I slowly started to rise up and stopped at 107 feet and waited for the other two. Johnny and Bruce are much more experienced at diving deep so I just watched from above and let them do their thing, they stayed there for close to ten minutes. The pressure down there at that depth is amazing! Once you pass the 100 foot you immediately start feeling dizzy or drunk, it’s called Nitrogen Narcosis. This obviously can be very dangerous as one could just pass out very easily, you must know your own personal limits and not venture beyond that. For these dives I have to preset my camera at the surface and make sure it’s all on before I go down because once there it’s hard to concentrate on the job at hand and trying to use buttons on the camera is nearly impossible. So this was our first practice dive with the sub, for the next photo I will have the sub come closer and have someone holding a slave flash to help light it up a bit more. On the way back up we picked up our spare tank that we left sitting on a sandy slope for emergency use and moments later after a 10 minute safety stop we were all back on the boat, fun dive!

That’s more or less the highpoint of my day, I took the dogs for a walk after work and now it’s time for bed, the days go fast! See ya, Barry

PS. I am still unable to send out the daily! Maybe we can fix it on Monday?

Nov 26, 10     Comments Off on Sailing Regatta, Colorful Sailboats, Cruise Ships

Good morning all, very,very sorry about the no daily blogs being sent out lately, I am unable to log into my normal web mail account and have to wait till Monday to call the States. And again if you need to reach me send a note or comments for the time being to my,  curacaobarry@yahoo.com  account.

Yesterday was fairly busy for me, I did 3 sub dives with customers, one at 11:00, one at 1:00 and one at 3:30 so I kept very busy all day. The water was very dirty for taking photos BUT for the first time in months I noticed that the corals are starting to get their color back!!! This is serious good news for the reef and I will continue to keep an eye on it. It’s still raining, can you believe it?? Almost every day now, we haven’t seen the sun in weeks!

Your photo is from the Regatta we had a few weeks back. I shot this again from right out in front of the Substation. The big cruise ship was just leaving the Mega Pier and the sailboats were headed to the Regatta start inside the channel right in front of Punda. I have said it once and I will say it again, Curacao is by far the most colorful place in the Caribbean, anything you shoot here is dripping in color!

Time to go diving, have a wonderful day folks, Barry

Nov 25, 10     Comments Off on Grooved Brain Coral Bleaching, Severe Coral Bleaching

Good morning friends, as you may have already guessed I am having major problems with my e-mail providers so I am using my back-up plan and sending this out through my Yahoo account. For some reason my current e-mail is rejecting my passwords and such and I can not figure out how to reset them, it’s a major mess. So if your trying to reach me, please for the time being send stuff to me here at, curacaobarry@yahoo.com I spent a good part of yesterday importing my address book which I had a terrible time with but finally got it done.

I did a deep dive yesterday with my co-worker Johnny, we dove down to 145 feet and hovered a few feet above the two sunken tug-boats that we have on our reef. Our goal was to clean up some of the invasive Lionfish that we had seen the day before but only ended up finding a few. Like everyone I first thought the Lionfish were and are beautiful but folks they are taking over and this time next year we will have a major problem. I strongly suggest that any of you who are fond of a particular dive-site start doing what you can to keep the numbers down.

After work yesterday I went for a nice hour bike ride and then we went to see the new Harry Potter movie. These last few HP movies are dark and much different than the first ones, not sure if I will go to another.

Your photo today is yet another in my quest to document the reef and the effects that this terrible warm and dirty water is having on our reefs. This is a giant ball of bleached Grooved Brain Coral, it has turned completely white now and if the water doesn’t cool soon, I will be sending you a picture of another dead ball of coral!

I hope this finds you all save and well, better get to work, Barry

 

Nov 24, 10     Comments Off on Dutch Royal Navy, Curacao Navy, Dutch Marines

Good morning all, I am unable to access my e-mail at home so please if you need to contact me send a message to; curacaobarry@yahoo.com  It’s been 2 days of no mail, I have no idea what is wrong and it’s driving me crazy!! So until further notice please send mail to the above address!

It’s still raining here, I just can’t believe it! I was going to go riding yesterday after work but just before I left it poured! And as I sit here this morning typing this from work it just rained again leaving a spectacular double rainbow for all of Curacao to see and of course i was out there taking photos!

Your photo today was taken a few days ago out in front of the Substation. This is some of the ships and boats that patrol our island on a daily/hourly basis from the Dutch Navy. There was obviously something going on this particular morning but I have no idea what? These ships and boats that you see here are constantly patrolling our shores in search of boats carrying illegal drugs in from South America which is only 40 miles away and they also spend a lot of time training.

Sorry so short and sorry for the NO -E-Mails, it’s out of my control!

Later, Barry

Nov 23, 10     Comments Off on Flying Osprey, Pandion Haliaetus, Caribbean Birds

Good morning all, this one is for my bird lovers in Wyoming and South Dakota who share my same love for our feathered friends. This is one of the two Osprey’s (Pandion haliaetus) that we currently have hanging out at and around the Sea Aquarium. Just about every day someone says, did you the osprey catch that fish or did you see the osprey eating that lizard? And of course I always say, “no, why didn’t you call me”?? So yesterday I went for a very short walk and immediately found one of them sitting high a top on the roof at Royal Resorts Hotel. He was perched on the highest peak facing the wind with his wings open trying to dry out his feathers, I assume he had recently dove into the ocean for lunch but missed that shot. As I watched him thru my lens he looked down at me with that big beautiful eye and became very uncomfortable with my close presence and took to the air again allowing me to get this cool shot of his beautiful wings spread wide open! The locals here call these birds, Sea Eagles or Fish Thieves and in Papiamento it’s called; Gabilan Piskado, Gabilan di Lamen and in Dutch it’s called a Visarend. These are by far some of the greatest and most efficient hunters I have seen. They hunt by diving feet first for fish swimming near the surface of the water, sometimes becoming submerged completely. Once the claws have got a hold on it’s prey it is impossible for the bird to retract them and there are known cases in which the osprey has drowned because it had hooked to big a fish. When they do succeed in grabbing the fish and lifting it out of the water they then carry it head first to a fixed feeding station and will spend the next hour consuming it. I will continue to be on the lookout today so if any of you spot him with a fish please call me.
 
I am running late, talk to you more tonight, bye now, Barry
Nov 21, 10     Comments Off on Juvenile French Angelfish, Colorful Reef Fish

Good evening friends did you have a fun weekend?? Even though it rained on and off most of the day I managed to get out and make the most of it. Since Inca wasn’t feeling well I took Indi and we drove over to the other side of the flooded salt flats. My goal was to walk to a trail I made called the Calabash and replace a Geocache that has recently been reported as flooded. The walk there was like walking thru a trail along the Amazon river without the alligators! We walked thru mud, more mud and more mud and lots of mosquitoes some the size of small hummingbirds, the trails have changed so much! As we walked I trimmed thorn bushes as Indi raced back and forth with her tongue hanging out and eventually we made it to our destination. After replacing the Geocache we turned around and went directly back the way we came except this time at top speed as a big storm was bearing down on us. No sooner had we got back to the car the skies opened up and down it came! More rain!! I ended up hiding inside till around 2:30 and then even though it had just poured and everything was soaked I went mountain biking! I did an hour and a half ride in the worst conditions imaginable but “boy-oh-boy” was it ever a blast! Most of the ride was in a complete downpour and the rest was just in mud! I first rode to my new bridge, crossed that and then took off into the jungles of Curacao on all my overgrown and flooded trails! Some of the trails you couldn’t even see the trail, they are that overgrown! I had forgotten just how much fun and how exhilarating it is to ride in the mud and rain, I really had a great time. The downside is how dirty myself and my bike got and I am still trying to get everything cleaned!
 
Just a beautiful little Juvenile French Angelfish for you all tonight, I just never get tired of seeing these.
 
Goodnight, Barry
Nov 21, 10     Comments Off on Spiny Backed Orb Weaver, Caribbean Spiders

Good morning all. Here are the cool new spiders I found in our front yard, I found 3 in one small area. The top photo is a baby, the middle is a young female and the bottom could be a large male, all have different tops. These spiders are called, Gasteracantha cancriformis (Araneida: Araneidae), the spiny-backed orb-weaver. This is a true tropical spider. The main range of the species runs from the southeast edge of the United States through Central America and the Caribbean, and thence into South America as far as northern Argentina. Florida is often said to be its northern limit (i.e. up to about 30° N), but in fact that honor must surely belong to the tiny archipelago of Bermuda, whose latitude is roughly 32° N. Like all orb-weavers, the orb-weaver builds disc-like webs consisting of long radii and parallel circumferential lines. Its webs can be unusually large, up to 60 cm in diameter. Females, which build the webs, can grow to 7 mm long and 13 mm wide. Males are smaller (2 or 3 mm long) and do not make webs. Instead, they skulk at the edge of females’ webs during the autumn and wait for a chance to approach and mate. After fertilization, females deposit egg cases on the underside of leaves, and the spiderlings hatch in the late winter.

The spiky, vivid appearance probably evolved because it makes the spiders look unpalatable to predatory birds and lizards. These cool looking spiders are not poisonous in any way! From what I have read just having that cool spiny amour is usually enough to keep all away therefore not needing a poison of any type, cool huh?? My favorite thing about these is of course the faces on their carapace, I will be searching for more and hope to find a wide assortment of different smiles.

I am quite sore this morning after carrying a 14 foot piece of wood almost one mile to the area where the salt lake is now overflowing into the ocean. For a month now no one has been able to cross this new raging river but yesterday I put an end to that. It took me around an hour to get it there stopping every 50 feet to rest and get the weight off my shoulders, it weighed around 40-45 pounds and was so long which as you can imagine would be very difficult to carry down a single track path thru a jungle. After finally getting the wood there and “building a bridge over troubled waters” I took the dogs and went swimming in the calm ocean, that felt so good after the long walk!

The rest of my day was spent shopping and going to our favorite glass beach, I found 8 pieces of red glass, it was a good day!

Better go, daylight is a burning, have a great Sunday, Barry
Nov 20, 10     Comments Off on Faces, Funny Faces, Natural Faces, Faces in Nature

Good morning all, here’s a fun photo that we just sold to a National Geographic Kids magazine this week. They had asked if we had any photos of “faces around the house” that kids could easily relate to. One of the things we found was this shoe of Aimee’s sitting outside just smiling at us so I made the eyes a bit bigger and that was that. One good example that everyone knows is a plain everyday electrical outlet, if you look at it there is a face, that’s what they are looking for. I am still working on this project so if you see something I could use please let me know and I will find it here and photograph it. Also, we don’t want to build or make a face, it should be a natural face or a profile of a face so be creative. They say “think out of the box” but for this I want you to crush the box, stand on it and then look around, that may be better.
 
Yesterday I did one sub dive with customers and spent the rest of the day in my new office that Dutch just made for me. Since we opened I have been using a bathroom to assemble all my underwater camera gear but this week they built me a new custom made photo lab and it’s big enough to have everything in there. Because the sub-station has the air-co going 24-7 I can’t have my cameras in there, it’s too cold! The second I take them from the cold to the outside heat they fog up immediately and become unusable. So now we have them in a warm room the same temp as outside and it’s perfect.  
 
Let’s see what else? Oh yeah, I came home yesterday and was getting ready for another big storm when I found the coolest spider I have ever seen! I know, who cares, I hate spiders right? Well this one has an armored plate on his back, almost like a shield, it’s so cool! The plate is a yellowish color and the spider is black, it’s a very difficult photo to take and was hoping I could get a good shot this morning but after an all night tropical downpour I will be lucky if I can even find him again. I will send the photo I took even though it’s not so great. It rained all night, can see already I will be inside most of the day AGAIN!
 
By all, find me some cool faces, you can even take a photo and send it to me, thanks, Barry
Nov 19, 10     Comments Off on Atlantis Sea World Explorer, Glass Bottom Boats

Hey gang, like I was saying this morning we lost a historic Sea Aquarium relic yesterday and watched as it got drug from the parking lot to a waiting barge. Since we have been here this fifteen and a half ton glass bottom boat has been parked on land for all to see as they entered the Curacao Sea Aquarium. It was kept in the back of the parking lot and year after year it seemed to just start looking worse and worse and was always being moved to a different area. Dutch originally rented this boat called the “Atlantis Sea World Explorer” for a period of five years. The plan was to have it out on the reef so folks could be underwater in the open ocean but constant wave activity caused countless cancellations and eventually was lifted out and set back on land. Dutch told me that people inside would get sea-sick if the waves were to big but on a calm day it was beautiful. This 46 passenger, 66 foot long glorified glass bottom boat was originally made in Australia. I was told there was or still is a fleet of these which are now in different spots all over the World. There are 3 in the Grand Caymans, 1 in Aruba and another still here in Curacao at the Hilton. This one is first headed for Holland on a big container ship then it will be completely restored and moved again to either Greece or Thailand. This boat is almost solid aluminum and was originally designed for the Great Barrier Reef’s of Australia. Dutch is standing on the red crane overlooking the whole operation and our sub captain Bruce is on top of the white glass bottom boat, no way I would have been up there! I was quite shocked at how easy this whole operation went. It came down on a long semi, the red crane lifted it onto the waiting barge and that was it, the tugboat then took it all out to sea and all the way back to the Punda harbor. Today it was gone and it was weird, we are all so used to seeing it, great to know it’s going to restored and that someday soon people will again be underwater enjoying the reef.
 
Well let’s see what else is going on? Oh yeah something new, it rained! In fact it rained for most of the day, I just can’t believe it??
 
Off to bed, Barry
Nov 18, 10     Comments Off on Bleached Grooved Brain Coral, Faces in Nature

Good morning friends, Aimee and I were busy last night working on photos we have recently sold to assorted magazines which ended up consuming our evening and I was too tired to get this out after. I worked yesterday and Aimee was off. At around 8:30 I got a call, it was Aimee saying “we are soaked to the bone”, she was under a tree with the dogs trying to seek shelter from a morning downpour but from the sounds of it there was no place to run and no place to hide! We do have places out along the trail with caves to hide in during the rain but apparently she was no where near those. I did call her back 20 minutes later to check on her and she was then under a rock overhang waiting for the rain to pass and watching wild dolphins swim by so the wait wasn’t that bad. As you can see it’s still raining, really unbelievable!
 
After talking to Aimee I did a dive with the sub and after waving good-bye to all inside I went on my normal short dive to see what new things I could find and say hi to the school of boga’s. Imagine my surprise finding this big cool face on a chunk of bleaching grooved brain coral in an area I had been over dozens of times! Please tell me you can see it, Aimee thinks I have lost my mind on this one and does not see the face, I love the big nose! The bleaching is still as bad as ever, I have not seen any healing of any kind yet but will sure keep you posted.
 
After work I did a ride with my young friend Stijn who will be one fast kid in the years to come! We did a one hour fast road ride to Montana (sounds like mon-tonn-ya) and back and he never missed a beat and he passed me on sprints at the top of all the climbs, love it! I have been forced to ride on the road now due to the excessive amount of rain, the trails are a complete mess!
 
We had a historic piece of Sea Aquarium equipment leave the facility yesterday, curious? That will be the photo tonight, see you, have a great day and thanks for sending my mom all the Birthday wishes! Bye-now, Barry
Nov 16, 10     Comments Off on Flower Birthday Cards, Happy Birthday, Curacao

First off this evening Aimee and I want to wish my mother who lives in Arizona a big Wonderful Happy Birthday!! Like many of you out there I have a fantastic momma who manages to do so much for us even though we are oceans apart! In a big round-a-bout way my mom is responsible for you all getting these daily e-mails every day because she bought Aimee and I and taught us how to use our first computer. I can still remember how reluctant we both were to actually own a computer let alone try and work one but with her step by step instruction it was a breeze! So momma we all thank-you very much and I think I speak for everyone on the list, have a wonderful, fantastic, restful, superb, joyous Happy Birthday!!
 
Well lets see it rained again today, yeah nothing new there, I tell all the tourists now “Welcome to the Jungle”! I did go on a dive but the visibility was terrible due to all of Curacao flowing into the sea! I spent the whole dive using my hand as a fan and blowing off layers of silt and sand off everything, the poor reef is such a mess! After the dive I walked around trying to get some photos of two Ospreys that are now in our area, they are so cool to watch!
 
That’s what’s going on here, sorry nothing to exciting! Be back tomorrow, Barry
Nov 15, 10     Comments Off on School of Blue Boga’s, Big School of Fish, Bonnetmouth

Hi friends, I see I have a small Boga fan club starting out there so here’s a new one for you fine folks this evening! Our spectacular school of Boga’s seems to be growing on a daily basis making my dives even more enjoyable! Usually the school is swimming out in the clear blue water high above the reef but a few days ago I found them at 100 feet swimming very close to the corals. What was I doing so deep you ask?? Well I followed the sub down to 60 feet and then as I waved good-bye I noticed this dark moving mass below my feet and went down to check it out! As I got closer I could see it was my buddies from above but for some reason they were hanging out in the deep and weaving in and out of the corals in a giant moving blue glowing mass, it was spectacular to say the least! Most of my diving buddies will tell you how rare it is to see big schools of fish in Curacao and when you do come across such a site one usually tends to follow in hopes of being totally engulfed in fish! These Bonnetmouths/Boga’s are also one of the few fish that can be closely observed with a slow, non-threatening approach.
 
Well guess what, it rained today! Yeah isn’t that unusual?? Geez it’s just insane the amount of rain we are getting, enough all ready! Today the sky just opened up and it poured like you can believe! Also many got to see the two big cyclones out over the ocean, I missed it of course but many said it was super cool!
 
That’s it for the Curacao update, see you all tomorrow, later, Barry

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