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 February, 2011
Feb 28, 11 Comments Off on Bonaire Street Scene, Life in Bonaire, Bonaire Locals
Hi friends, how was your Monday or do I dare ask?? Mine was pretty fun as I got to hang out with a team of scientists from the Smithsonian Institution. They are here again for three days in search of new species of fish, shells and invertebrates and using the new sub as their searching tool! I think they ended up doing three dives today and I left this evening before they returned so I have no idea what they found down there. This morning I did a deep dive with a friend right out in front of the Substation, we zipped down to 140, had a look around and slowly made our way back up, it was short but super cool.
Here’s a photo I took on the last day in Bonaire in the rain! I think “Cheba” was the name of the guy in the doorway, he and his friends were under the overhang of this colorful grocery store hiding from the morning shower. Our tour guide Rolando was kind enough to ask this gentleman if we could take his photo which wasn’t hard being that they knew each other. I asked Rolando what these guys do all day?? He told me that most are retired and hang out here in front of the store just talking or playing cards, and like us they get a check every month, although it isn’t much. Cheba was a semi-celebrity for those few minutes and he loved it! I remember his buddies yelling at him the whole time and he tried not to smile while I had the tripod set up and Rolando trying to keep the rain off the camera.
Not much else going on, the puppy is doing better every day, I promise I will get a photo to you soon!! Have a wonderful Tuesday, see you again soon, Barry
Feb 27, 11 Comments Off on Birds of Bonaire, Bonaire’s Parakeet, Caribbean Parakeet
Hi friends, I had a very quiet day today, it was just what I needed! For some reason the rain is back? I don’t remember doing a rain dance or praying for rain, I did say make it stop more than once, not sure how that request got so confused!
Here is a cute little Caribbean Parakeet this evening for your viewing pleasure that we found in Bonaire last week. This is hands down one of the easiest birds to identify by sound alone because they are screamers! The other interesting thing other than their high pitched squawks and squeals and being afraid of their own shadows is that there exists a different race on each island. On Aruba the Parakeet has a greenish brown head with at the most a little yellow near the eyes. On Curacao the whole head with the exception of the crown is yellow, while on Bonaire the crown and sometimes the neck is yellow too. Unfortunately there has been some mixing between the races because, e.g. cage birds from Curacao have been set free in Aruba. This seems like a great idea but disturbs the natural evolution process and should be prevented by all means.
I hope you all had a wonderful weekend, be back tomorrow, Barry
Feb 27, 11 Comments Off on Tiger Grouper Bonaire, Mycteroperca Tigris, Sea Bass
Good morning readers, I am still trying to recover from my no-sleep adventure in Bonaire last week, I felt tired all day yesterday. I had quite the little adventure at Saint Joris bay with the dogs yesterday morning, we found a baby goat! Our adventure started near the Ostrich farm, that’s where we had to park as it was still to muddy to drive all the way in. I think the last time we were here was in November of 2010, that’s about when the rains started and then never stopped! My reason for even coming here in the first place was to check on my new single-track trail that had just opened before the rains hit and then became unaccessible because of standing water and mud. Well the trail was as bad as folks had told me, it’s all overgrown again and will need to be raked but really what’s the use in cleaning it now as the end of the trail is still under a foot of water. So the dogs and I walked the trail, then waded thru the standing water and ventured to the tip of Mangusa point, that’s where Indi found the baby goat. I was collecting driftwood when I heard Indi start barking so I dropped what I was doing and raced to see what was going on. There under a big tree was a tiny little 2-3 day old goat, she was bleach white with tan spots and as cute as cute gets! Indi was still going crazy with the barking and Inca tried twice to eat her, I was yelling at the dogs to get away and chasing the little goat at the same time, it was not a pretty site. I finally caught the goat which is about the size of our new puppy and then thought to myself, now what?? Once I caught the little goat and held it she really calmed down almost sensing she was safe now. I carried that little thing for miles looking for other goats but then finally gave up and took her and the now covered in black mud dogs back to the car. My first and only thought was, try the Ostrich Farm, they have all kinds of farm animals maybe they can help! The goat was sleeping on the front seat just as relaxed as can be when I pulled into the Farm but the dogs were still going crazy in the back seat. The second I pulled in I saw a lady walking thru a gate on the west end of the property and hit my horn, she immediately stopped and walked over to greet me. I told her I just found this baby goat, do you know anyone that can help?? To my surprise she said, no problem, my boyfriend raise goats just down the road she will be safe there and with that she picked the little one up and off she went, how lucky can we get!! I immediately missed my little goat after talking to her and carrying her for an hour, she was darn cute, I’ll ask Aimee if we can have another??
Here’s a fun shot of a Tiger Grouper (front) and a colorful Spanish Hogfish that we found in Bonaire last week. On one dive I think it was Karpata we found a juvenile Tiger Grouper, that was the first one I had ever seen!! The juveniles are golden yellow and really stand out on the reef, I think most of the people on that dive really didn’t realize just how special that sighting really was! Groupers are becoming harder and harder to find as their numbers continue to drop daily due to over fishing and spear-fishing! When I shot this it was just the grouper but seconds later this hogfish came into the photo but immediately realized being next to this grouper may not be a good idea and turned around and took off in the other direction, we call those life changing decisions!
It’s been raining since I left Bonaire, everything is wet and muddy again, what a year! Later, Barry
Feb 26, 11 Comments Off on Colorful Caribbean Sponges, Stove Pipe Sponges, Bonaire
Good morning readers, I wanted to show you one of the most beautiful clusters of stove pipe sponges I have ever seen, it has yellow and purple tubes! Our friends Sal and Patty who are from the States but live here for many months out the year found this a while back at “Tolo” and had sent me a photo and of course I was dying to see it. Most of you on the list now know I have turned into “Sponge Barry” or as you like to say a “Sponge Freak” but I find them so unusual and beautiful. Thanks to my models Aaron and Jen I was able to throw a person into each photo to help show you the size of these cool creatures. Most of you remember from all my blogs that sponges are the simplest of the multicellular animals. Sponges come in many sizes, colors and shapes. Some are quite small, less than half an inch across, while the Giant Barrel Sponge may attain a height of over six feet. These Stove Pipe Sponges can also get very tall, I have seen them close to eight feet in height and have found them past 100 feet before.
We really didn’t see a lot of fish on this trip other than our incredible dives on the East side of the island and like Curacao the reef in Bonaire is still in healing mode after one of the worst years in recorded history for coral bleaching. To make things worse the reef there is also covered in algae and not just one kind, I saw all different kinds just like here in Curacao. Those months of rain we had really did a number to the Caribbean reefs, it was just too much mud and sand flowing into the sea from the shore. Bonaire is still fighting the Lionfish problem as well and I must say they are doing much better at it than Curacao, that says something for just how much folks care about the reef there.
Well sorry so short, I need to take the dogs out for a long overdo walk and get my coffee! Have a wonderful weekend, Barry
Feb 25, 11 Comments Off on Caves in Bonaire, Caribbean Caves, Caving, Cave Tours
Hi gang, I am back!! What a trip to say the least!!!!! I am so, so, so sorry about not even being able to post a quick photo or blog this week, I really had no time!! Almost every night I ended up getting to bed after midnight and then having to get up again at 5-6am just to get ready to do it all over again. So our goal was to do a story for the June issue of Sport Diver and the theme was to find other super fun adrenaline sports to keep you busy in between dives! We went caving as you see below, mountain biking, hiking, diving, windsurfing, kayaking, bird watching, exploring and my favorite snorkeling in an underground cave. Our group of three consisted of me, a famous writer named Aaron Gulley and his wife Jen who helped out non-stop thru this adventure, I used her and Aaron as models just about every day. Below is our tour guide Clay giving us one of the best cave tours you could hope to find on a small island, he was so passionate about his work and it really showed!! It was so funny because we just parked along the road just out of town and walked thru the desert along a little trail until we came to a fairly small hole in the ground. There we peered down a dark hole with a ladder going all the way to the bottom and the first words I remember hearing are “who’s going first”?? Well that was me since I had the camera and a big tripod. I first went down and set everything up and then one by one my models came down the ladder gazing into the darkness with their lights. Clay gave us a great tour explaining the history and everything you ever wanted to know about Caribbean caves and all though I was sweating buckets of water from the heat it was a total blast! Aarons wife Jen is an accomplished photographer in her own right and helped a bunch, she had tons of great ideas and like a smart photographer I listened and took notes when I could.
I am so tired, more tomorrow, Barry
Feb 16, 11 Comments Off on Snappers, Buddy Dive Bonaire Pier, Scuba Diving
Feb 15, 11 Comments Off on Reflections in Water, Crazy Water, Colorful Reflections
Good evening friends. Well tomorrow morning I take off for Bonaire, so those of you who get the blog via e-mail remember it won’t be coming to your doorstep everyday, you will have to go to the website itself to see what’s going on. That address again is; www.coralreefphotos.com Also I may be to tired or just plain don’t have the time as well so please be patient, I will try my hardest to post something everyday.
I still have lots to do tonight and it’s already almost 9:00, I even skipped my Tuesday bike ride and stayed on the computer instead. Below is another colorful reflection that I found in the water the other day, it was a yellow building with red trim creating this effect in the warm early morning sun.
Talk you all from Bonaire next, have a great week, I know I will! Barry
Feb 15, 11 Comments Off on Finding a Seahorse, Yellow Seahorse, Cororful Seahorse
Good morning all, after a great night out with my loved one we both ended up hitting the sac early. With full bellies, a little wine and a full day in the sun there was no staying up late last night. Yesterday was fairly quiet at work for me, Aimee was busy. I have been busy packing for the trip over the last week and still am not ready, I will have to pay for excess baggage for sure.
I had a request for a photo weeks ago and I forgot all about it until last night going thru old photos. Someone had asked if I had a photo showing how big a seahorse is when sitting on the reef compared to a person, so I found this. This is my buddy Mark who found this great little yellow treasure on his house reef at Pier Baai. I remember this seahorse also being or living in a super hard to get to spot making any photos almost impossible especially with my mega monster camera. So Mark ever so carefully came in from behind and was able to get into a better spot than myself so I said ok, I will just shoot the both of you, it’s more interesting anyways. Seahorses are pretty hard to come by on the islands here, it is hands down one of the top 10 creatures divers dream of seeing but most times leave without spotting one. I can’t even remember the last one I saw, and it’s not that they are not out there, it’s that they are so darn hard to see, except for the yellow ones.
Sorry so short guys, I am in a rush this morning, still lots to do before work! More soon, Barry
Feb 13, 11 Comments Off on Love, Happy Valentines Day, Love Sign, Love Grafitti
Hello everyone and Happy Valentines Day!! I hope all you gents out there have already taken care of business and done something or have something planned for those ladies in your life?? I made Aimee a necklace and got here a bunch of yummy chocolates. While collecting beach glass I found this clay pendant off a 200 year old jug and it has a big “A” stamped into it. I then took it home and drilled a tiny 1mm hole thru it with our junky house drill and then strung it up with turquoise and silver, it came out pretty good. Tomorrow night we have dinner plans somewhere, she won’t tell me but it should be a fun time.
We got a nice rain storm today which we kind of needed, I can’t believe I am saying that but it’s true. This island dries out so fast without rain due to the constant winds coming off the ocean, the moisture has no where to hide. I just got home from a fun bike ride followed by a great dinner and now it’s game over and off to bed. The puppy is doing so well, I will get a new photo out to you soon, her hair is all starting to grow back.
Sorry so short, Happy Valentines Day to all my ladies out there, you mean so much to all of us!! Good-night, Barry
Feb 12, 11 Comments Off on Coral Bleaching Progress Photo, Coral Face, Curacao
Hi friends, how was your sacred Saturday?? Mine went by so fast, I really need a do-over on this day! I started the morning out super early almost “sleep-walking” with the dogs and yawning the whole time. And yes, there are days when even the World famous Highlander Groog coffee can’t wake a person up, today was one of those days. I was up late last night sitting here at my cyber throne getting a large batch of photos sent in the United States copyright office. This is no easy task but something we photographers now have to do to protect our works. I ended up getting into work at around 9:00 and kept very busy until our sub dive at 1:00. For once the water was pretty clear as you can see from the photo I took today below, it has been hazy for what seems like months now. The dive with the sub went really well and after waving good-bye to the lucky passengers I swam over to take my weekly photo of the progress on my Coral Face. You must go to this link below and see how it looked months ago compared to how it looks now, what a difference! I’ll wait while you go check it out. http://www.coralreefphotos.com/bleached-grooved-brain-coral-faces-in-nature/ It’s really great to see this giant head of grooved brain coral coming back from it’s severe case of coral bleaching, not all corals were this lucky!! I did notice today that a little damselfish has moved in and made a little damselfish garden out of the area where I am calling the eye and the back of his head so that’s not good, I will be keeping a close watch out for further damage.
I really can’t believe it’s 7:00pm, “POOF” my day is history! Hope tomorrow lasts a little longer, Barry
Feb 12, 11 Comments Off on Whiptail Lizard, Caribbean Reptiles, Lizards
Good morning friends, I am back again. Yesterday while walking to the Substation I watched these two big Whiptail Lizards either fighting or mating right in the middle of the street. Since I didn’t have a camera I first got them off the road and told them to either get a room or fight in the bushes, they would have been run-over where there were. The minute I chased them back into the brush they started again, so I ran and grabbed my camera and when I returned they were still going at it! They were so into what they were doing that I was able to get within a few inches of them. I watched for around five minutes as they tried biting one another and spun each other around in violent circles and sometimes even upside down, it really didn’t look like much fun. Apart from being the most common reptile on Curacao, each of the three islands has it’s own subspecies of this lizard. The lizard in Aruba even belongs to yet another species. In Papiamento the adult male is called Bloblo, while the females and young males are known as Lagadishi. Whiptail Lizards are omnivorous. They will eat fruits and insects but they will also rob eggs out of birds nests and even attack mice and eat them. Adult males possess a territory in which they will allow females and immature males to live but not adult males. A territorial male will try to impress an opponent by raising itself high on it’s legs and making itself as big as possible. If the intruder does not leave, a fight will ensue with most often the territorial male being the winner.
Running a bit late this morning as I have to work today, see you tonight, Barry
Feb 10, 11 Comments Off on Stony Corals, Polyps, Giant Star Coral, Curacao
Good evening readers, here is a super cool ball of Giant Star coral that I found a few days ago on our fun night dive. This was a perfectly round ball with it’s polyps out feeding, during the day they are usually closed. During the day this coral is very plain and just looks like a bumpy mass but at night the show begins! The beautiful polyps open once the sun goes down and generally feed most of the night on passing planktons and seem to be more active on nights with current and murky water. If an octopus or a fish brush up against these open corals they will close instantly and re-open for business once they feel the coast is clear and if it’s still dark out. I have even noticed that just using my dive light for an extended period of time or repeated flash will also signal them to shut down, they are very sensitive.
Have to make this short tonight, still have lots to do before my Bonaire trip on the 16th. Please remember I will not be sending out the blog via e-mails but you can still see it online at www.coralreefphotos.com I will try my best to post it each day even if it it’s just a short hello.
Good night all, Barry
Feb 9, 11 Comments Off on Kanoa, Canoa, Mountain Biking in Curacao, Dogs
Good evening from the Caribbean. For those of you who have never seen a dog smile, this is what it looks like! Inca and Indi had so much fun this morning running along side us as we made our way up the coast to our favorite little hidden beach called “Inca’s Place”. For you Geocachers there is even a cache hidden there and it’s named, yep, you guessed it, Inca’s Place. The desert is still nice and green from our two solid months of rain, look on the ground we even have grass of sorts! This mornings ride was so much fun. We parked the car near the bat caves and rode down a dirt road straight to the ocean and then took a left, we could now see the giant windmills up ahead in the far distance and with a strong tailwind we got there in no time at all. The dogs again ran straight to the water to cool off and while they were doing that we set up their water bowls and went in search of beach treasures. I kept telling Aimee, “watch where your walking, there are little hermit crabs everywhere”!! She sat down at the edge of the tide-line and collected little shells while I walked around looking for fossil corals to be used as jewelry, it’s amazing how much stuff there is to find. After around 30 minutes of resting, collecting and playing with the dogs we grabbed the bikes and headed back this time straight into the wind. I hate riding a bike into a strong wind but the dogs love it as it helps to keep them cool, needless to say it took much longer to get back. Fun Curacao morning, I highly recommend this trip to any of you who have not done it, you can walk as well but that would take quite awhile and you would need to leave very early.
That’s about it, was a nice relaxing day! The puppy got her first vaccination today, will send a new photo out soon! Help us find her a great home, she will be a winner!!
Good-night all, Barry
Feb 9, 11 Comments Off on Dalmations, Caribbean Dogs, Island Dogs, Curacao
What’s the good word this morning folks! I think most of you know that if I send a photo of Indi out that Inca has to follow, I mean it just isn’t fair. Inca or as Aimee says; “Daddy’s Girl” is much more calm and reserved than Indi, in fact we believe she thinks she is a dog princess and must at all times be treated like one, you know, you can look but don’t touch. She’s just spoiled you say?? Yes, that’s also most likely true but it sure is fun!! Inca was also very funny to watch during our dog torture photo shoot, she didn’t really seem to care at all and continued to do what she does so well, guard the beach. She always is in her alert mode when we are out walking the trails and for the most part gives us a little peace of mind knowing she’s on duty. On the other hand Indi is always chasing things or exploring and even with her big ears is sometimes the last to know we have company. As far as we know Inca is the only pure-breed Dalmatian on Curacao. We have seen others but they are mixed making her even more special with her gleaming white and black spotted fur coat, lets hope she never sees herself in a mirror!
Busy day yesterday, one sub dive and a bike ride with Super-Stijn at 5:30, all was going great until he got a flat!! I am off today with Aimee for once although she came home at midnight from an employee party then got up at 1:30am till 2:30am and had to go to work and she is up now again at 7:00! That’s not much sleep!!
See you soon, Barry
Feb 7, 11 Comments Off on Funny Dog Photos, Island Dogs, Caribbean Dogs
What’s shakin friends?? Oh yeah I forgot, it’s winter everywhere but here so that’s probably a bad way to start off our conversation. So being that your all locked in the cold we figured a nice picture from the beach would warm your spirits this evening. This is our pride and joy Indi relaxing this evening in her favorite chair, soaking up the warm sun setting rays down at our private little beach. I think I once told you all that Aimee is an unbelievable animal trainer, she can train a dog or dolphin to do anything! The funny thing about this photo is that Indi actually enjoyed it and just sat there and sat there just looking out into the ocean, I was laughing so hard I could barely take the photo. After we shot Indi we tried with Inca. She also did pretty well although she was much more serious, while Indi had a smile on her face the whole time and seemed to love the extra attention! Who would have ever guessed we would end up getting so much enjoyment out of a puppy we found abandoned on the road, she is so great!
Aimee just pulled one of our Christmas hams out of the oven and the house smells great, I am going to go check it out. Be back tomorrow, stay warm, Barry