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 December, 2010
Dec 31, 10 Comments Off on New Years in Curacao, Colorful Buildings in Curacao
Happy New Year from Curacao!!!!!!!!! Aimee and I want to once again say thank-you to everyone who has helped us in this adventure, we honestly could not be doing this without all your continued support! I know our friends back home think we are never coming back and that I said we would only be here for a year and yes now it’s been almost seven years, it’s just turned into a longer vacation than we had expected. That’s why mail from you all is so important, please don’t ever think we get too much mail already, we love hearing from you and seeing photos from home. Aimee and I had a great year, we sold lots of photos, got to go fossil collecting in the States and see friends, went diving in Bonaire, rescued more puppies, met new friends, had old friends visit (who brought Highlander), and so much more, we have a lot to be thankful for!! I hope you all have or had a safe New Years Eve, I just finished boarding up all the windows as tonight the “CRAZIES” will be out in full force! Talk to you more next year, Curacao regards, Barry and Aimee
Dec 30, 10 Comments Off on Exploring the Reef in a Mini-Sub, Substation Curacao
Hey gang, how was your day? Mine was pretty fun, we did a sub dive with some VIP’s (actors from Holland) and that went great, I think everyone including myself had a great time. Our lagoon where our sub comes in and out was filled with these strange jellyfish today, needless to say I wore a full wetsuit and got in and out of the water very quickly. The visibility today was pretty good, better than it has been in a long time which made taking pictures so much easier and the dive in general more exciting. The coral bleaching is still bad but much of it is getting better and better by the day. The Lionfish problem continues but many of my friends are starting to help and like they say “it’s never too late to start.
Everyone is busy getting ready for the crazy New Years celebration, it’s been non-stop fireworks for the last few days now, day and night! Aimee and I plan on hiding here at the house because the dogs especially Inca has become a total freak in her old age, I guess we have a lot in common huh??
Here’s another fun photo of the coolest, most fun mini-submarine two million dollars can buy!! I was hiding under a big gorgonian kind of spying on the sub thru this coral garden when it passed by with two smiling ladies in the front! You can see how our reef drops straight down, it’s such an amazing wall making it perfect for passengers in the sub to just look out and enjoy the view.
Sorry so short, feeling a bit tired tonight. See you tomorrow, Barry
Dec 30, 10 Comments Off on Christmas in Curacao, Lights in Punda, Street Scene
Good Morning friends, welcome to another addition of “life in Curacao with Barry and Aimee”. Yesterday Aimee was off, she first went on a two hour hike with the dogs and did some needed trimming on the Calabash as it’s now turned into a jungle trail! She then waited around the house for the rest of the day for the workers to come and fix our broken window which did get fixed and looks great. I had to work and did two dives yesterday. My first dive was spent fanning red algae off the reef since the current was running at full speed. We have many places in Curacao where the reef is in terrible shape and just filled with different kinds of algae, some red, others are green but most are black and brown, it’s really nasty stuff. If you go out on a high current day, you can just wave your hand over an infected area and it will all just disappear into the moving current. The downside was there is so much but I did get one area done in the hour and a half I was there. My second dive was with the sub but the visibility was terrible so shooting photos was very difficult, thank goodness for Photoshop!
At 6:00 Aimee and I left the house and headed back to Punda for another try at shooting all the beautiful holiday lights in the city. We met up with a friend of ours named Papito at 6:30 and he stayed with us for around an hour adding a little bit of safety to a man carrying a lot of camera gear. This is the famous waterfront area called Punda and our spectacular all lit up floating bridge. The Punda District boasts a number of elegant dining options, including a Michelin Guide-caliber French restaurant. There are also countless stores waiting to relive you of that extra cash and you can find stuff like round bricks of Dutch cheese, designer fashions, crystal from Ireland and Germany and porcelain products from England just to name a few. Another of the facts about Willemstad Curacao is that you can gamble here, and you will find several casinos, as you will at some of the resorts and luxury hotels elsewhere on the island. Take tours in the suburbs of Scharloo and Pietermaai, and you will find beautifully restored old mansions. If all this isn’t enough for you, Willemstad boasts colorful festivals, regattas, and other special events nearly all year long. In fact, every time a cruise ship glides into the harbor, the merchants of the Punda District put on a Bon Bini (meaning welcome in the local Papiemento language) festival for the arriving passengers.
I better get to work, see you soon, Barry
Dec 28, 10 Comments Off on Old Tugboats, Artificial Reefs, Wreck Diving, Curacao
Good evening from Curacao, it’s me again!! Aimee and I get so many requests for boat photos, maybe more than anything else but I just never seem to have time to go in search of these types of pictures, but today I did. First of all there must be a short story told before I introduce this evenings photo. Years ago Dutch, the owner and creator of the Curacao Sea Aquarium bought and sunk two beautiful old tugboats in around 40 feet of water out in front of the aquarium on what we call “the House Reef”. The tugboats were an instant hit for all the divers and became home to many creatures in this new artificial reef. Well one day a big storm came to visit and by golly those tugs started to move and by morning they were gone! Where did they go you ask?? Yep you guessed it, straight down, they now rest on a sandy flat on the edge of a massive wall at 170 feet! The good part is that now the mini-sub has an incredible place to take it’s passengers but since then the diving community has been without a fun sunken ship to explore, see where this is going?? For many years Dutch has been looking for a replacement tugboat and finally found just the right one and I got to go see her today. Everyone meet Adriana, a beautiful tugboat that was born in the 1920’s and has been in use till up to just a few years ago but now the cost to overhaul her and fix her is beyond reason. Adriana is now parked in the oily waters next to Isla, “our Caribbean oil refinery” and tomorrow will be towed to another area so workers can start cleaning her in preparation to be sunk for a new Curacao dive spot. From what I was told she was originally outfitted with a steam engine and later was up-graded to a diesel motor, talk about history. I will be following this from start to finish so stay tuned for more, together we are all going to learn how an artificial reef is born, it should be fun!!
Aimee and I are off to look at more Christmas lights, have a wonderful evening, Barry
Dec 27, 10 Comments Off on Christmas Dolphins, Curacao Christmas Lights, Dolphins
Hi friends, here is another fun Holiday shot from a little place called Curacao, we thought our dolphin fans would appreciate it the most. This year the island went festive and put up truck loads of cool lights, we have yet to see half of them. These dolphins wearing Santa hats completely surround a small pond of water behind Punda next to the movie theatre, there has to be at least 50 or more! We have heard that the floating bridge and the main street are beautiful as well but still have not been down to photograph it, just not enough hours in the day.
Today I did two different dives both fairly short and at 5:30 met a co-worker for a quick mountain bike ride. My poor bike is in need of a mechanic and I hope I can get it in tomorrow for a repair and a new back tire and seat! I am sure all this riding in mud and rain has not helped it much.
I really don’t have much for you all tonight, our window is on the road to being fixed thanks to our landlord, she made some calls and got the ball rolling! I can hear fireworks outside, it has begun, the island will soon be so noisy no one will be able to sleep!
Thanks again for all the gifts you guys, I swear we have the best friends on Earth!
Gotta go, take care, Barry
Dec 26, 10 Comments Off on Substation Curacao, Curacao Mini Sub, Sub Facts
Good evening one and all, I got to spend most of my day off at the Police station, lucky me!! After walking the dogs this morning I told the landlord about the vandalism and she said I have to immediately call the Police and have them write a report in order to get insurance to pay for it. So I called and waited here at the house for around two hours and finally not one, not two, but three officers showed up to see the damage and write a report. After showing them the window and the rock (or as I call it, Evidence) they then asked if I could go with them down to the main Police station in Punda, and of course I said yes! As I was following them to Punda they immediately made a turn down a wrong way street and blocked this moped with two locals guys driving. I didn’t know where or what they were doing so of course I followed as well! Once they stopped and jumped out to talk to these two guys they motioned me to just wait so I turned off the car and just watched! It was like watching an episode of “COPS” and I was right in the middle of it all. I tell you the things I get involved in? Finally after writing tickets they again took off and I followed. Once at the Police station or as they say here, the Politie station I again waited in one room and then later was taken to another where they filled out the incident report, all this for a broken window. I told the officer “I would have never called you guys but have to because of Insurance” I am sure you all have better things to do than this. The good side was, all the officers were very nice but what a way to spend a Sunday?
Here’s a new Sub photo I shot just a few days ago when we had a nice clear visibility day perfect for a photo shoot. Many people have been asking me general questions about the sub and until just a few days ago I really couldn’t answer all of them. The big front glass dome (window) you see here with my two lovely ladies in front is two inches thick and pressure tested to 1500 feet! The sub has 40, lead-acid, 12 volt batteries which are similar to a car battery and can power the sub for 6 hours. It took Nuytco Research of Canada two and a half years to build this two million dollar one of a kind five person sub, that’s about 17,000 man hours! There are six, two horse power motors, one in the front hidden behind the lights, two in the back and one on each side kind of in the middle. The motors are able to propel the sub vertically or horizontally with just a flick of the wrist, it’s technology at it’s best! The sub has four very powerful lights, each one is 600 watts each!! Inside we have two mini couches to lay on for the passengers up front, pilot sits in the middle and two people can sit in the back and each has his or her own window. There is also state of the art on board sonar and a 27 kilohertz band radio. In an emergency the sub can produce 1400 pounds of air lift and rise to the surface or if that fails we can drop 300 pounds of weight with just a turn of a screw. If all else fails we have enough food and water on board for 4 days and in 48 hours we could have another sub here and ready to help. Many have asked what if you have to throw up or use the restroom?? We have bags for that as well! Come check us out, our daily rate is $650 per person which includes an underwater photo shoot by yours truly, t-shirt, all pictures on a custom flash drive and more. We have two tours, one is called the “Beauty Run” and the other is called the “Stella Maris”, both are about an hour and a half. Hope to see there, check us out online or get in touch with me, our website address is; www.substation-curacao.com
Time for bed, talk to you tomorrow, Barry
Dec 26, 10 Comments Off on Life in Curacao, Curacao Lifestyle, Curacao Painting
Good afternoon all, running late due to thunder storms and vandalism, what a night! First off Christmas morning was GREAT!! Aimee and I had a blast opening gifts and the dogs ran around with their Christmas chewies, it was a fun start to the day. I got a new helmet, couple nice shirts, and lots of other fun stuff will have to let Aimee tell you what she got. After ripping apart Christmas wrapping and devouring some hot, delicious cinnamon rolls we took off on a nice hour and a half walk with the dogs and of course throwing in a little trail work at the same time. We ended up leaving just in time as a big rain storm approached and that pretty much kept us inside the rest of the day. At 4:00 Aimee put a ham in the oven and 30 minutes later the house smelled wonderful. Unfortunately all our guests called in sick at the last minute so we ended up dining by ourselves but it was fun just the same!! So lets see it pretty much rained all night and at 3:00 in the morning we both woke to the sound of breaking glass! The noise was insane, we both jumped out of bed and quickly found out that the local kids had just thrown a baseball size rock thru our kitchen window, glass was everywhere!! I heard some locals yell from out on the street “Merry Christmas!” such a nice gift wish I could have returned the favor! Unfortunately this is a very common occurrence here, crime is high and there is nothing anyone can do about it. We cleaned glass till 4:00 and I taped up the window the best I could. Soon after going back to bed it started to pour and it rained and rained and rained, so much for any sleep!
Today’s photo was taken inside the harbor near where the cruise ships dock. The photo depicts “real life in Curacao” as the house really looks like most houses here surrounded by cactus and what I think are banana trees. Life for many locals has not changed much in the last 100 years. They still use rain water or sea water to bath in and wash clothes, hunt iguana or catch fish for food, walk or take a bus to get around, and many don’t have electricity they just use propane to cook everything.
I have to go the police are here to take a statement about the vandalism, see you soon, Barry
Dec 25, 10 Comments Off on Merry Christmas Curacao Style, Fishing Santa
Merry Christmas Everyone, thanks for another year of support, Aimee and I could not have done it with out you. Last night we drove into Punda and did some Christmas photography, it was super fun followed by a great dinner afterwards! Hope you all have a wonderful day, now go tear those presents open!
Oh, I hear Santa, better go! Happy Holidays, Barry
Dec 23, 10 Comments Off on Rainbow Over the Ocean, Caribbean Rainbow, Curacao
Hey gang, we started our day off with a beautiful rainbow this morning and thought you might like to see it as well. As we got to work at 8:00 it started to rain but minutes later the sun popped out and I raced outside and shot away, actually it was still sprinkling when I took this but a few drops never hurt anyone! So this is my view every day at work, I took this from the Substation launching area and the water was super clear as well. The winds have shifted back to normal taking all the smoke from the Isla refinery straight out to sea and back to Venezuela, good for us but bad for all the poor folks that live under that smelly monster all day. Today late in the afternoon I went back to Isla and shot more photos as the smoke again was just insane! As I left I noticed that both cruise ships were completely entombed in refinery smoke and from where I was watching you could hardly see the cruise ship parked at the Mega Pier! All I could think of if what those poor folks must be going thru and thinking about Curacao, it’s doubtful many will return after being involved in that today!
I did do a fun photo shoot with the sub and it’s passengers today and will send one of those out either tomorrow or the next day. Many have sent me questions about the sub so today I finally asked one of our pilots a bunch of sub trivia and will send that your way as well real soon.
Tomorrow night Aimee and I are going to Punda to see and photograph all the new Christmas lights they have there this year including big dolphins with Santa hats.
Sorry I don’t have more for you, thanks for all the holiday cards and gifts you are a great bunch of people! See you soon, Barry
Dec 23, 10 Comments Off on Tiny Blue Crab, Blue Hermit Crab, Reef Creatures
Good morning readers, how is everyone today? Hard to believe it’s just a few days away from Christmas? I trust you all have your shopping done and if you haven’t I have a last minute gift suggestion. For you ladies looking for a gift for that special man, get him any cordless power tool preferably one that starts with Dewalt or Makita! And it doesn’t matter if he already has one or even two, guys love to collect these things and the more we own the better! That’s not a joke I am serious! And guys, there is only one place you need to go, Victoria Secrets! If you don’t have one in your area go on line, it’s what I call one stop shopping, you can’t go wrong but make sure to order the right sizes!
I have a little Blue Hermit Crab for you all this morning and was hoping you guys could help me find his real name. This is a very common crab in our waters and they live in just inches of water occupying any and all little shells below the surface. I always tell folks, “check your shells before you bring them home” they probably have a crab in them. These little things will tuck their bodies way back inside the shell if you pick one up making it very hard to see him so set them all down and see which of your shells starts moving and then toss them back into the sea. We have a Reef Creature book here but this crab is not identified inside so any help would be great. If I am not mistaken this is our friend Emily holding this little cutie, we had found many in a calm pool of water over at Saint Joris when she was last here.
I need to get ready for work, thanks for all the comments on the Isla photo from yesterday and NO that is not Photoshoped in any way!
Have a wonderful day, Barry
Dec 21, 10 Comments Off on Isla Oil Refinery, Caribbean Oil Refineries, Global Warming
Good evening all, what a day!! It’s not to often I send out a negative photo but this one was just too good not to share! Living in Curacao comes at a cost and that is having to see, smell and in general deal with living next to the largest oil refinery in the Caribbean! As I mentioned yesterday the winds have changed and the sea is dead calm making matters even worse for all living here and tourists on vacation for the Holidays! This morning since the water was so calm we took our small Boston whaler into the harbor and got a first hand look at the most insane thing I had ever seen, it was like the “Towers of Doom” and it was Global Warming up close and personal. Our goal was to photograph the new ship that Dutch owns and is currently restoring which is parked way back inside the harbor very close to all this mess. So on our way to the ship I snapped away not believing what I was seeing and because there was no wind it was even worse. The smell all over the East side of Curacao today was just awful and the waters in the harbor were black with floating oil and gasoline, what a major mess! The refinery here is called Isla and if you have any time at all please go to this site and read more about it, there was just too much info to put in tonight’s blog. www.vrcurassow.com/2dvrc/stateofaffairs/windows/isla.html All of us at the Aquarium today stood outside and watched as hundreds of people enjoyed life on the beach not being able to see what was going on behind them but I am sure they all smelled it. On most days the wind takes the toxic fumes to the South back over to Venezuela which is ironic since it is their oil anyways! It’s scenes like this all over the planet that are causing warming temperatures on this little place we all call home! This is why I tell everyone, try not to use your car so much, ride a bike, or carpool it really does help!
That’s about it for my crazy day in Curacao. The good news is that we got a really nice gift from our employer today. It was a big wicker gift box filled with great stuff and we all got a big yummy ham so it will be a feast at the Browns house on Saturday!!
More tomorrow, Barry
Dec 20, 10 Comments Off on Old Rusted Ship, Siezed Ships, Curacao History
Hi friends, look what I found today!! Is this cool or what? This morning when I got into work I found out that our first dive with the sub wasn’t till 11:00 and since I worked on Saturday I decided to go on a quick photo trip. My goal was to get some photos of our oil refinery which was spewing out toxic smoke which could be seen for miles but trying to find a location to get the shot proved to be more than I bargained for. With the help of my co-worker Johnny, we first drove to Fort Nassau which you can see in this photo, it’s the building on top of the mountain behind the ship. Once there we quickly found out there was no shot so Johnny said, “I know another place” and off we went to a new area located near the Curacao marina. We drove down into a “Restricted Area” but since Dutch has his big ship called the Chapman docked here and Johnny knows everyone we drove right in with no questions asked. I was told this area is where the Coast Guard keeps all their confiscated boats that had been seized over the years for carrying drugs, arms or illegal aliens. The water was so calm this morning and the light was perfect as it lit up this huge rusted monster. I couldn’t find anyone who could tell me anything about the rusted ship other than it’s been there since most folks could remember! I did end up getting one so-so photo of the refinery but will have to continue the search for a better area. Anyways something very different for you all today, hope you like it.
I kept very busy at work, we did one sub dive but I took twice the amount of photos due to the fact that we knew the passengers. The water visibility wasn’t so great due to a change in the winds and causing the waves to go the wrong way, I sure hope it’s better tomorrow!
Many thanks for all the comments on the photos, you all are wonderful! Better go, Curacao regards, Barry
Dec 19, 10 Comments Off on Fire Coral, Firecoral, Different Types of Firecoral
Good evening or good morning, I am guessing most of you are reading this first thing Monday morning and wondering like me again “where did the weekend go”?? First things first, for you guys out there I posted a web only Christmas photo on my www.coralreefphotos.com site, it won’t be sent as a daily so you have to check it out there, don’t say I never send you anything!
Today was a pretty nice weather day even if it did rain a little in the morning. I left the house at 7:30 with two “ready for adventure dogs” and ended up walking and cleaning trails for two and a half hours. I came home completely soaked in sweat or as we call it here”stewing in your own filth”!! My poor trails are such a major mess, the Calabash takes ten minutes longer to ride now because of all the overgrown jungle bush! Many time today during the ride I could not see the trail but I knew it was there and just closed my eyes and went thru although many time vines got caught on my bars and made me come to a complete stop!! At 4:30 I grabbed the bike and took off for a fast hour and a half ride and came home covered in mud and plants stuck to every part of me, but it sure was fun.
Here’s something by request, this is a beautiful fan of Firecoral! Not only is the fan made of Firecoral the stuff behind it to the right is as well. Firecoral can be found in such a large variety of shapes and sizes and completely decorates almost every part of the reef. Fire corals have a bright yellow-green and brown skeletal covering and are widely distributed in tropical and subtropical waters. They appear in small brush-like growths on rocks and coral. Divers often mistake fire coral for seaweed, and accidental contact is common. Upon contact, an intense pain can be felt that can last from two days to two weeks. The very small nematocysts on fire corals contain tentacles that protrude from numerous surface pores (similar to jellyfish stings). In addition, fire corals have a sharp, calcified external skeleton that can scrape the skin. Fire coral has several common growth forms; these include branching, plate and encrusting. Branching adopts a calcerious structure which branches off, to rounded finger-like tips. Plate adopts a shape similar to that of the smaller non-sheet lettuce corals; therefore erect, thin sheets, which group together to form a colony. The latter; “encrusting”, is where the fire coral forms on the calcerious structure of other coral or gorgonian structures.
To treat fire coral stings, divers recommend a variety of remedies such as urine, vinegar, and rinsing with salt water. Do not wash a fire coral sting with fresh water, as this will cause the stinging cells lodged in the diver’s skin to fire, increasing the burning sensation. If possible, divers should remove the stinging hairs from the wounded area with tweezers. Antibiotic and anti-itch cream may be applied to the injury as needed. Fire coral stings become infected easily, and the burning sensation can lead to scratching, which increases the chance of infection and irritation. Always monitor any patient with a marine life injury for faintness, shortness of breath, and other signs of an allergic reaction.
Time for bed, don’t forget to check out the on-line only Christmas card, see you tomorrow, Barry
Dec 19, 10 Comments Off on Merry Christmas from Curacao & the Dolphin Academy
Here’s a very special photo for all the guys out there, this is our one and only Zenzi with her favorite dolphin Annie! This was such a fun photo shoot and not just because of being underwater with a half dressed woman, watching her time after time try and keep that hat on her head was just too funny and I about laughed till I cried! Yep, it’s a job folks, what can I say? Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, thanks for all the support in 2010!
Stay tuned for more, Barry
Dec 19, 10 Comments Off on Bird Bath, Bathing Bananaquit, Funny Bird Photo
Good morning from still raining Curacao! I have a fun, whimsical photo for you this morning of a cute little Bananaquit hanging upside down taking a bath under our dripping air conditioner at work. My co-worker Barbara was eating lunch when she raced in and said “Barry you have to see this”! I dropped what I was doing and raced down stairs and slowly took a peek out the window. This is my same little Christmas bird I sent out a few days ago but I guess she decided a break was in order and found this great spot to relax and cool down. This little bird hangs completely upside down and lets the water run from her tail feathers all the way to her beak, it was so much fun to watch! As we watched our other co-workers came in and one by one all huddled close to the window for a viewing of this acrobatic bird. Once the bird was completely soaked it let go and would drop just a few feet below the water and land on a big Sea grape leaf and puff up into a big furry/feathery ball, it was so cool. After the bird left I went out and cleaned the dirty window in hopes she would be back but so far we haven’t seen her, most likely because she is so busy with the Christmas nest and her new babies that will be on the way soon.
Yesterday I was out waking the dogs at 6:30 in the morning! That’s a first. I had to be at work at 8:00 so we did a fast one hour hike and even got a little trail cleaning in. After I went shopping and did the laundry and then made a pit-stop at the beach for some beach glass collecting. Aimee and I are going to put together a pallet full of this glass and send it back home on a container ship, it has so many uses.
Have a wonderful Sunday folks, I am headed out on a long walk with the dogs!! Bye now, Barry