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 November, 2011
Nov 30, 11 Comments Off on Queen Angelfish, Holacanthus ciliaris, Colorful Fish
Good morning friends. We sure had a lot of excitement around the shop yesterday all surrounding this Guinness Book of World Record event which in the end was a big success. Bruce shot video while I took photos, I followed the sub down to 135 feet and did my photo shoot and after crazy Bruce kept following them to, are you sitting down, 200 feet! Ok, Bruce is a Master Diver who used to specialize in deep water diving but 200 feet on air?? Man , that’s deep, you won’t catch me doing that! Apparently the sub went down and landed on a sandy patch at 250 feet and they did a whole radio broadcast from there. During this hour Curacao got hit with one of the biggest tropical downpours ever! This meant it was hard to hear the folks down on the sub because it was all being relayed thru the boat on top, our boat captain Rob came back completely soaked! Within 10 minutes after the downpour the ocean turned as brown as brown gets from all the mud, sand and dirt running into the sea and stayed that way the rest of the day!
At 6:00 we had a surprise Birthday party for my buddy Gordy with around 30 people, it was great! We all hid at Augusto’s restaurant and when he came over we started singing Happy Birthday which was followed by a lot of kisses from the ladies and lots of bad jokes from the guys! When I first came to Curacao I was equipped with all this high tec Ikelite underwater equipment but really didn’t have a clue how to use it, thank God for Gordy! He immediately took me under his wing and showed me the way and teaching me not only how to get the camera in the housing but what setting to use for underwater, let me tell you if it wasn’t for the G-Man as I call him I would have been lost. Gordy has a beautiful book available here on Curacao called “Our Coral Reef” which is filled with page after page of beautiful underwater images and if you ask nice he will sign if for you.
Here is the Queen of the Caribbean reef once again in all her colorful glory! This Queen Angelfish, Holacanthus ciliaris can reach a maximum size of about 18 inches, that’s a pretty good sized fish! Angelfish swim so gracefully and are easily recognized. All Angelfish have a spine that extends from the rear cheek over the lower gill cover which conclusively distinguishes Angelfishes from Butterflyfishes. Like most sightings I usually end up chasing them down or following them until I run out of air, they are very clever when it comes to losing their prey or knowing where to hide from pesky photographers.
Off to the sea, I am doing two sub dives this morning, then a bike ride at 5:00 and a night dive at 7:30. will be a full day! Have a great one, Barry
Nov 29, 11 Comments Off on Caribbean Hummingbirds, Curacao Hummingbirds
Good morning from the Caribbean wet-lands! It sounded like it rained most of the night, the good side to that is finally we have some cool sleeping weather and for once don’t have the AC running all night. Everything is blooming once again here in Curacao and I keep telling myself I need to get out and shoot some new flowers but so far it hasn’t happened. I did find this beautiful hummingbird feeding on the flowers of a Brasilwood Tree or Haematoxylon brasiletto the other day and stopped for awhile to take a few photos. I looked and looked this morning online for the name of the hummingbird but couldn’t find this particular species and I know it’s a common one as we see them all the time. My Curacao bird book is so limited, it has a Ruby-Topaz and a Blue-Tailed emerald Hummingbird and that’s it, if any of you know the name please let me know and I will update this blog immediately. And since we are on the hummingbird subject, my aunt in Florida sent me this incredible link you have to see; http://www.youtube.com/v/xHkq1edcbk4?version=3%20%20%20%20 It’s a video with Hummingbirds, bees, bats, flowers and other creatures filmed in slow motion, it’s super cool!
Today we are attempting to get into the “Guinness Book of World Records” by doing the deepest radio broadcast with the sub. I am not sure how deep they plan on going but will let you know more about it tonight. For those of you on the island this will be broadcast over Dolfijn FM throughout the day. We also hid a bunch of free sub ride tickets on the island but I believe all of those have been found, but others will be given away again thru Dolfijn FM.
Time to make the coffee and feed the pups, have a wonderful day out there! Barry
Nov 26, 11 Comments Off on Cactus Blue Restaurant in Bonaire, Driftwood Signs
Good morning from the tropics, yes it’s still raining!! I have to work today but before I go in I am going out to attempt and cut some trail! On the 12th there are some journalists/bike riders arriving from Holland who are doing a story on the different areas to cycle here on the island and I was asked to give them a tour of our trails, mainly the World Cup course. With all this rain I can’t keep up with the trail work now, and many trails are almost sealed shut from growing brush which you can imagine how difficult that could be to ride thru.
Since we are in the Holiday season and many of you have fridges filled with leftovers, this signs for you!! This fun driftwood sign comes from the finest restaurant in Bonaire called Cactus Blue, if you haven’t been there yet please do yourself a favor and stop in for lunch or dinner!! The whole inside of the restaurant is filled with fun signs like this and all kinds of super cool driftwood creations, you creative folks out there would go crazy with ideas! Oh yeah, ask for the owner and tell him I sent you, again some of the nicest folks you will meet!
The dogs are whining apparently wanting to be fed, I better go! Have a wonderful weekend, Barry
Nov 25, 11 Comments Off on Baby Bottlenose Dolphin, Newborn Dolphin, Dolphins
Good morning everyone. Wow, it sure is rainy season for us down here right now! The trails are growing faster than we can cut them, and I told Barry he needed a jet ski and not a mountain bike if he wanted to go riding!
Well, of course if it’s a baby dolphin, I am usually behind the keyboard, and this is a newborn calf from a year or two ago. They are so perfect, they look plastic. Barry likes to photograph them in the first few days because of the way they throw their head up and out of the water to breath. Dolphins have to learn the “breathing roll”, where mostly only the blowhole comes out of the water and they can take a quick breath and keep moving. Baby dolphins are not that coordinated in their swimming and breathing yet, and use a much more exaggerated movement of coming up and out of the water for each breath. That, of course, gives him a better chance of a nice photo of a beautiful dolphin face. You can barely see the dorsal fin of the mother beside this baby, and that is right where he will stay at all times, unless he is nursing. By staying close by mother, the baby uses very little energy for swimming and just stays in the slip stream and gets pulled right along. They more or less move as one unit. Baby dolphins have to be born very physically advanced. Then need to swim, nurse, and breath. But, they don’t moved far away from mom for at least a month, and neither will sleep during the fist month or two either. Tough stuff, isn’t it?
Hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving. I got to talk to my wonderful family on skype yesterday. When you live this far away you have to love skype! We then went to Thanksgiving dinner over at Augustos. It is a great meal with all the “fixings”, but it is under the palm trees and ocean. Nice combo. Well, it’s Black Friday….now go out and shop!
Nov 24, 11 Comments Off on Blade Fire coral, Millepora complanata, Pencil Coral
Good morning friends, Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends in the States. I sure wish we could join you all today for the food fest and festivities but fear not we will be dining ourselves tonight under the palm trees. Yesterday I took the day off to spend with Aimee. We both ended up being trapped at home almost all day because of non-stop rain and at times it came down so hard it flooded the driveway and yard! I made the most of it by hauling my chop saw and tools upstairs and building another driftwood bookcase which I almost got finished by the end of the day.
I had a question about Fire coral the other day and found this photo last night. Besides the low growing clumps of Pencil Coral, what you see is a sea of Fire coral! Fire coral 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; â€œencrustingâ€, is where the fire coral forms on the calcerious structure of other coral or gorgonian structures.
I need to feed the dogs and make some coffee, have a wonderful Holiday today and please eat something just for us and say, “this one is for Aimee and Barry”!! Cheers, Barry
Nov 23, 11 Comments Off on Intermediate Queen Angelfish, Holacanthus ciliaris
Good morning from the Curacao Rainforest! Yes, we woke to sound of another “out of the blue” tropical downpour which started at around 3:30 in the morning! One thing is for sure, the island is green and the little tree frogs think they are in heaven! Every time it rains I have to go outside and pick up land snails that crawl out of the brush and cover our walkways and driveway, we hate to step on them! Yesterday was absolutely beautiful with no rain in sight and at 5:00 Stijn and I went for our Tuesday ride! We were about 10 minutes into the ride when I rode over a hidden broken bottle and a sharp stick both at the same time leaving me with one major flat tire that liquid latex could not repair! I told Superboy to go on without me and I began the long walk back home! You folks would be amazed at far one can pedal in ten minutes and how far that is to walk!
For those of you asking, we are going to Augusto’s for Thanksgiving dinner, it’s about the only place on the island that caters to American holidays (that we know of). Augusto’s is located next to the Sea Aquarium so we really don’t have far to go and he does a pretty great job of putting together a traditional meal with all the fixins!
Here is a sweet little thing for you all today, this is a young or intermediate Queen Angelfish, Holacanthus ciliaris. In the years I have been here I honestly have not seen or gotten that many photos of these beautiful fish as they prefer deeper depths and are scared of their own shadows. If these fish see a diver they usually will disappear under the reef until you pass over, you won’t even know they were there. The best luck I have had was finding one and following it into their hiding spot as you see here and just wait for them to come out, that’s how I got this shot! Talk about cute little fish faces!!
I need to go make some coffee and get moving, have a wonderful day all! Cheers, Barry
Nov 21, 11 Comments Off on Viper Moray or Enchelycore nigricans, Reef eels
Good evening all, how did your Monday treat you?? Ours turned out to be pretty good mainly because of no rain, the sun came out and we all got to see the Caribbean blue sky again! Ok, yes it was very humid and the minute you set foot outside you were sweating but for us it’s still better than that cold white stuff! At lunch I rescued a big beautiful iguana from certain death as he was stupidly warming himself up in the middle of the road! I was on my bike and saw him up ahead and raced into oncoming traffic to scoot him across the road, I tell you the things we do for the critters here! Aimee and I compare the iguanas here to the deer back home in South Dakota, they just love to temp fate by either being on the road or inches from it and most times they just don’t make it! If there is a good side to this it’s that nothing here goes wasted! Most of the times a Cara-Cara will spot them and fly down and peel them off the road or it’s found by a feral dog or cat.
Here is a crazy looking underwater creature you don’t want to mess with, this is called a Viper Moray or Enchelycore nigricans. These eels are crawling lethal weapons equipped with a full mouth of razor sharp teeth! These morays like many others here in Curacao inhabit coral reefs, patch reefs and or shallow rocky areas. They hide in the reef during the day but many times can be seen with just their heads sticking out just waiting for nightfall. Like other eels they constantly open and close their mouths as you see here, an action required for respiration, not a threat!
Off to bed, be back tomorrow, Barry
Nov 21, 11 Comments Off on Foureye Butterflyfish Aggregations, Chaetodon capistratus
Good morning friends and followers how was your weekend?? Apparently many of you were locked in snow storms this weekend but from the photos you sent made the most out of it! We had a weekend of rain again!! Saturday Stijn showed up at my house early and we took off for three hours cutting overgrown brush on the Calabash trail and then five minutes after getting home, it started to rain and didn’t stop much all day! We did manage to get out and do an hour and a half ride but with the mud it wasn’t so great. Yesterday was about the same, we took off with picks and rakes and redesigned a steep dirt climb on the power line road and made a new jump but seconds after returning to the car it started to rain again and didn’t stop! So here in Curacao it was a weekend inside.
Here is something we occasionally see that is still considered a mystery to many researchers. This is a group of Foureye Butterflyfish, Chaetodon capistratus but in a large group or aggregation out on the reef in the middle of the night? Don’t these fish know they should be sleeping? Aimee and I have seen groups of 20-30 of these fish at night and almost every time they are found around a big gorgonian and seem completely unafraid of divers. It’s obviously some kind of mating behavior but they always seem to just be swimming around and not really doing anything. If anyone out there has any other ideas on this behavior please let me know and I will update the photo.
Sorry I don’t have more for you all today, it was a semi-quiet weekend around here. Good luck with your Monday, I will be photographing new deep water fish today. Barry
Nov 19, 11 Comments Off on Red Heart Urchin, Meoma ventricosa, Sea Urchins
Good morning friends, I am up early again at 5:00 as Stijn and I are headed out early with the dogs to finally get some much needed trail work done, with all this non-stop rain we are having the bushes are growing like crazy! My one meter wide trails are now in some places just inches thick which makes it very difficult to ride thru. If the rain holds off today we will also be taking off on a long training ride in the afternoon but I am guessing we will have to avoid many of our favorite trails due to standing water, we will see.
We did two sub dives yesterday, the first at 11:00 and the second one at 3:00. The visibility yesterday could be the worst I have ever seen! There is very little wave moment on the surface and underwater there is zero current which makes for poor diving conditions. Luckily for the sub and it’s passengers they go below the murky, still water and get down where it is still nice and clear, everyone came back with smiles glued to their faces. While ascending from the second dive I found a skeleton from a Red Heart Urchin, Meoma ventricosa laying upside down in the sand and gently scooped it up and took it back to the Substation. Once it dried in the sun I took it inside and made this photo of the top of the urchin. The top of these animals has a beautiful five-part sculptured design, much like a sand dollar or starfish and there is no end to the photos one could make. These Red Heart Urchins are rarely seen by divers during the day as they spend most of their lives buried under the sand.
Last night as we went to bed Aimee said, “it’s hard to believe we have the air-co going full blast when our friends back home are locked in a blizzard”. I guess it’s that time of year, you get snow we get rain!
Have a wonderful weekend friends, off to the trails, Barry
Nov 18, 11 Comments Off on Frank Schleck’s Bike, 2011 Amstel Curacao Race
Good morning Amigo’s, how are we all doing today?? I have a fun photo this morning for all my die-hard serious bikers out there! This was taken seconds after Frank and Andy finished the 2011 Curacao Amstel Race. The two famous riders rolled in and immediately were surrounded by press and fans all wanting a photo. As Frank was being interviewed I noticed he had his name hand painted on the bikes top tube and thought that was pretty fun and started shooting away. I then figured hey, I should go see if Andy’s bike is the same way, would be fun to have both. I then went over to Andy who was being interviewed by a radio station and looked at his bike and finally found his name but it was in a different spot, his is painted on his seat stays and did get a photo but I like Franks more. Below are three links that you have to read all from my buddy Aaron Gulley who interviewed Andy and Contador this year in California. Yeah, you guys who say I have a great job, well Aaron gets to do interviews with the stars and test ride all the new bikes on the market each year, talk about dream jobs.
Speaking of bikes, Stijn showed up last night for our Thursday ride with his new 29 inch black and white Carve Expert! The bike fits him like a glove but I am afraid after last nights ride I may no longer be the one up front, he killed me last night!
Thanks for all the Momma birthday wishes, I forwarded some of them to her. Need to get to work, have a great day, Barry
Nov 16, 11 Comments Off on Happy Birthday in Sea Glass to my Mom Joy!!!
Good evening one and all, we are back! Our internet has been down and out at home for the past four days but finally we got it fixed again!
So tomorrow is my Mom’s Birthday and in honor of this fine day I assembled a beach glass collage just for her!! Her name is JOY in case you didn’t get that and she lives in Arizona and yes that’s a long ways away from Curacao but thankfully we have the internet! I have told many of you before that if it wasn’t for my mom buying and teaching Aimee and I how to use a computer in the first place we may still be in the stone ages! Before she bought us our first computer (for our wedding) we knew nothing about them and were very much intimidated by the thought of even having one in the house! But like a good mom, she helped us set it up and for the next year or more was there every second we had a question or a problem! So in reality you all can thank my mom for the blog every day, without her I would be sending you daily smoke signals from the Caribbean!
Have a wonderful Birthday Mommacita, we miss you very much!
Barry and Aimee
Nov 15, 11 Comments Off on Liopropoma aberrans, Golden Basslet, Rare Fish
Good afternoon friends, here is another super rare, deep water fish called a Golden Basslet, Liopropoma aberrans. This is one of those quintessential rare reef fish that up to now, only existed in bad, fuzzy photos that were taken thru the dome of some deep-water submersible. Now, thanks to Substation Curacao, www.substation-curacao.com a submersible-caught specimen has come into extremely clear focus which really shows what makes this deepwater basslet stand out from the wrasse bass, cave bass and candy basslet of the Caribean Sea.
Liopropoma aberrans has been one of the deepwater Caribbean fish that has been known about for many years, it occurs from Curacao to North Carolina, but since it lives at extreme depths (400-500 feet) it was always just barely out of reach of Florida and other Atlantic fish collectors. This basslet species has already claimed the life of one fish collector, Eric Reichart, who is believed to have been attacked by sharks while diving off of Pompano Beach while diving to the limits for the elusive Liopropoma aberrans.
The internet is still out at our house so I am posting the blogs online from work, I am still unable to send my mass e-mails at the moment. It’s cloudy again here today, I am praying the rain holds off till tonight as we are doing our weekly mountain bike ride at 5:00, sure would hate to miss that!
That’s it in a nutshell, enjoy the Golden Bass, he is as rare as rare gets and would cost five figures to own one!
Till tomorrow, Barry
Nov 14, 11 Comments Off on Eared Dove, Zenaida auriculata, Curacao Birds
Good evening readers, it’s Monday evening and I just drove back to work because the internet is still out at our house, thus the reason for no “Daily Blogs via e-mail”. Our little island is getting pounded by rain again! Saturday and Sunday were two boring days inside for yours truly! Saturday was spent just observing the National Geographic crew as they filmed the sub doing it’s thing inside and out which left me just sitting by the side and observing. I tried to take some photos but they asked me to not use flash and if they were filming they didn’t even want to hear the sound of a camera clicking in the background, so I just went home! Sunday they filmed again all day but I stayed home in the rain! I did have a chance to finally work on a few indoor photo projects like a fun Birthday photo for my Mom and I even got our Christmas card finished, so even though it was raining outside I managed to keep busy inside! Today, Monday the NG film crew finished up with last minute interviews and left the island at 1:00. The film is one of six in a series about the aquarium fish trade, I will for sure give you all a heads up when I hear more. Tomorrow we have a sub dive at 9:00 and the rest of the week is fairly busy as well with paying customers.
I took this photo yesterday again out our top floor window right after the rain stopped. All the birds were “fluffed Up” and looked very cold, they are not used to days of rain and cold, cloudy weather. This is called an Eared Dove or Zenaida auriculata. All the other doves and birds had flown away to seek some kind of shelter but not this guy he sat there just as happy as could be. The black spots on the wings and behind the eyes make identification easy and the neck often shows an iridescent purplish color. These doves are most at home in the desert and I always see them when walking the trails. When startled or disturbed they fly straight up like they were shot from a rocket disappearing almost immediately. This behavior has earned them the name â€œJumpy Doveâ€. Like all doves it is a seed eater and is quite common on all three islands. Nests are built in bushes, cacti and low trees.
Ok, I better get back home and get some dinner, cheers, Barry
Nov 12, 11 Comments Off on Red Night Shrimp, Cinetorhynchus manningi, Ringens
Good morning readers, our household is up at 5:00am this morning thanks to Inca (our Dalmatian) throwing up grass that she ate last night on the trail. Unfortunately this is a very common event, we can’t seem to keep them away from it and for some reason they never learn! Aimee is currently training Indi (our other dog) to turn on the lights if she is carrying something heavy or has her arms full, open the doors and the funniest one, shutting the doors, that one cracks me up! I told her as good as she is getting with all these trained behaviors we need to do a short film and post it on You-Tube.
This morning National Geographic is arriving and will be using our sub most of the day and thru the weekend. They are filming a documentary on how fish are collected for the aquarium industry. One company we sell fish to in Florida just sells fish to all the big public aquariums around the World while others just sell to collectors. Geographic is following a famous collector but using our sub, as I learn more I will let you know.
Here is a beautiful juvenile Red Night Shrimp, Cinetorhynchus manningi that Aimee and I found together on our last night dive hanging out on the base of a giant sea-fan. They usually have red bodies and may have white to tan bands and spots with dark green eyes. These shrimps are very common in the Florida keys, Bahamas and Caribbean but not in numbers that it would pay to collect them for consumption. They inhabit coral reefs or shallow rocky areas and are considered nocturnal. They hide deep in the reefs by day and appear in large numbers at night. When you shine your light on them their eyes turn to a glowing shade of red, it’s really beautiful! These shrimps like others are very shy and will retreat into the darkness if approached, so getting photos can be very difficult at times! Previously reported as Rhynchocinetes ringens, which has been reclassified in the genus Cinetorynchus. The species C. ringens only inhabits the Eastern Atlantic.
That’s the news, enjoy your well deserved weekend! Barry
Nov 11, 11 Comments Off on Banded Basslet, Lipogramma evides, Rare Fish, Curacao
Good morning friends, I ended up taking yesterday off with Aimee as it’s looking like we will be busy at Substation all weekend. I have heard we have National Geographic coming in to do something with the sub but unfortunately that’s all I know so far. I met a bunch of friends and a few Pros for a fun mountain bike ride yesterday morning at 7:30 while Aimee took the dogs for a walk to Saint Joris. The ride was fun but not what I had expected as almost all the riders were non-mountain bikers, they race in triatlalons or solely on road bikes so this was a major eye opening experience for some of them. Our new buddy Gabriel who races for Specialized (road bikes) in Uruguay found this to be a very challenging morning but by the end of the ride was starting to get the hang of it. Gabriel has legs the size of tree trunks and definitely has the power but in mountain biking it’s more about technique. I told him it’s a good thing we are not on the road or I would never see him again, and he answered, “then we are even”! Aimee and I met at 9:00 and went all around Curacao looking for a new watch for her, something that is very hard to find here. We ended up finding something that will work but I am sure we will be getting something online and having it brought down in December with friends. At 5:00 Stijn showed up and we took off on the fastest mountain bike ride him and I have done together to date! This kid was on fire last night, the second we left my house he was in sprint mode, no warming up, just go, go, go!! It’s easy to see why this kid is going to win every race he enters, he is fast! He is in the process of buying a new 29er from Specialized and I will be buying his old bike to give to Aimee to use, hers is about worn out! So it was a busy fun day and the weather turned out to be real nice, finally no rain!
Here is another very deep, very rare fish called a Banded Basslet, Lipogramma evides that was found at around 400 feet off the coast of Curacao! This is another fish that is so rare and lives so deep that there is very little info known about it and almost no photos can be found on the internet. It lives at depths in excess of 300′ and is found on small areas of coral rubble on sandy plateaus adjacent to steep coral reef walls. Evides is a shy and cryptic species. It is often found in pairs or small, same-species groups of 3-5 individuals. It is distinguished by three dark bands, hence the common name. This little sweetheart is less than an inch in length and is as cute as fish can be, you really have to see it to believe it. I am glad so may of you out there are enjoying these deep-water specimens, it’s for sure a major treat for all of us to get to see one!
I need to get my tired self moving, have a wonderful weekend!! Barry