ABOUT

Avid outdoorsman and underwater photographer, Barry Brown has spent the last ten 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.

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Archive for December, 2011

Dec 31, 11     Comments Off

Good morning Aimee here, this is the last day of the year, so let’s all make the best of today. Meet momma Renata and baby Kanoa. Kanoa just turned one year old in December. I know I have said this before, but I will say it again, he is one of the most beautiful babies ever!  Just take a look at his huge baby eyes, and he has a pretty unique yellowish color on his sides as well. I had to laugh yesterday when Barry came over to this lagoon with me. We had our friends Tammi and Hannah in the water with Renata, Roxette and Kanoa, and suddenly he just went crazy, racing and jumping everywhere. He had us all laughing until our sides ached. At one point he jumped so high and out of control he almost did an entire flip. Wow. Too much fun.

Barry is sick again with another cold but somehow managed to do three dives with the sub yesterday?? Today they have a family of 16 arriving from the States and they are all going for a ride in the sub, it will be crazy over there!!

Our guests kept very busy yesterday, they first swam with the dolphins and then Scott went for a sub ride down to 500 plus feet! Then at 6:00 Scott and Tammi went on a night dive in front of the Sea Aquarium while Hannah and I took the dogs for a long walk thru the Curacao rain-forest! Barry came home wiped-out, ate dinner standing up and went straight to bed, not sure how he will make it today?

Well, thanks for another wonderful year and all the support and help! Hope you all have a fun but safe evening, it will be one crazy night here that’s for sure!! Happy New Year from Curacao!!

Aimee, Barry, Indi, Inca, Nila (the cat)

Dec 29, 11     Comments Off

Good evening from Curacao!! First off I have not one, not two but three super-fun links to share with you all tonight. The first comes from my Uncle Tom in Florida and it’s the hands down craziest snowmobile video I have ever seen! Here is the link;

Snowmobile; http://www.zapiks.fr/share/player.swf?file=50284

The next one was a gift from Stijn and it’s one of the scariest singletrack trails I have ever seen, I wouldn’t walk this trail let along ride it but these three brave guys do, check it out!!

Crazy Singletrack!!!

http://www.dumpert.nl/mediabase/1895321/209ce21d/zelfmoord_mountainbike_trail.html

And the third one this evening is from our house guest Scott. After the first clip there will be a Butterfinger commercial followed by an even better clip with a dog barking at a cat, that could be one of the funniest ones I have ever seen! Thank’s Scott!!

Cat Fight;

http://comedy.video.yahoo.com/?lid=24038736&vid=27449967

So once again you folks out there who are tuning in on a daily basis get to be the FIRST humans on Earth to see yet another mega-rare and very valuable deep-water fish. This is a juvenile Golden Basslet, Liopropoma abberans and he’s about an inch and a half in length and was found at around 400 feet!! As this fish gets older it will change drastically! It will first lose the red and white spot on it’s tail and be replaced by pure yellow. Then the spots on his body will start to disappear and the pinkish-red color will also be replaced by yellow. In the end all that will remain of his colors now are the yellow stripe through his eye and a small amount of pink or red on his fore-head, pretty cool huh?? I won’t even tell you how much this fish is worth because you would think I was lying! These beautiful little bass are ferocious hunters and can and will attack without any warning at all! They eat just about anything including small mice shrimps, crabs and fish and spend their days hiding in the rocks.

We sure had a crazy morning at Saint Joris!!! We got there at 8:00 and of course it was already muddy and wet but we were going hiking any ways!! Off in the distance we all saw storm clouds building and knew it was just a matter of time before it got to us. I kept saying; “guys, I think we better start looking for shelter” but we were so far away from the car that there was really no where to run! So, next best thing, start looking for junk on the beach to use as an umbrella because it’s coming! I found a pink plastic toilet seat cover and gave it Hannah and then found more plastic sheeting and started handing it out and told everyone to run and find some place to hide because in about 2 minutes we are going to be soaked! You could see a wall of water coming towards us and everything behind it slowly disappeared under a curtain of rain! I quickly removed my back-pack and dumped out all the driftwood and crawled under a big driftwood tree with Inca. I then made us a roof that Inca could stand under and seconds later down it came!! At that time I didn’t even know where the rest of the group was but was hoping they found shelter. The rain came down so hard and once it stopped I found out that everyone else was just huddled together out in the open soaked to the bone! They said that being under the tree got them even more wet! So, Inca was dry and I was half dry everyone else looked like they just went swimming! After our shower we continued the hike walking thru more mud, thorns, broken glass, mosquito infested bogs and crawling under downed trees and bushes, didn’t want anyone saying the hike was boring!! We all returned home wet and muddy with our collection of driftwood and beach treasures, heck Stijn found a surf-board!!

After that ordeal I went into work to photograph the fish above, the boys went diving and the girls took a nap. Later in the afternoon everyone left for a tour of downtown Punda on the water-front and I stayed home to get this out to you. That’s our day, what did you do??

Be back tomorrow, Barry

Dec 29, 11     Comments Off

Good morning one and all, how are you all doing?? Many out there on my daily e-mail list still don’t know about my “DELL computer crashing and that there won’t be any more daily blogs sent out as an e-mail any more but one by one they are checking in. Yesterday we were super busy at the Substation and this Friday and Saturday are completely full as well which means I will be in the water a lot! Our guests took off yesterday on a tour of the island led by my buddy Stijn who is now out of school because of Christmas and is able to hang out with the crazy Americans. He ended up taking them to Puerto Mari and from the sound of it they all had a wonderful time! Puerto Mari is our “Best Family Beach” that we have in Curacao, it’s clean, safe and has great diving, snorkeling and food, what more do you need?? Scott and Tammi who own a dive shop in the States have been trying hard to get their nine year old daughter Hannah to go diving. So far she has not gone under the water but has again promised that if they take her back to Puerto Mari again she will do it, so lets cross our fingers!!

The fireworks have started here already which has poor Inca scared to death! It’s looking like one of us will have to stay home with the dogs New Years Eve and comfort them from the noise, if that is even possible. We were invited by Dutch to go on a boat and watch the island attempt to blow itself up from the safety of the water so that’s sounding pretty good!!

This morning the whole gang including Stijn are going to Saint Joris for a walk along the coast to collect driftwood and treasures. It rained again last night so it will be a muddy mess but like I say, “if you can see thru the mud and trash, it’s a treasure trove”!

Well, that’s about it for today. We are still eating my moms homemade fudge and cookies (which I even took to work) and loving the Highlander Groog coffee and all the fun gifts we just got for Christmas, thank you all once again!!

I had a request for a photo of our bird RUFO that resides at Dolphin Academy. He is doing well as you can see and continues to entertain the guests on a daily basis! We Love him!

Time to go for a walk, the dogs are so excited, Barry

Dec 27, 11     Comments Off

Good evening friends, here’s Mr. Lionfish or Scorpion Volitans if you will, even its name reveals the fiery character of the Indo-Pacific red lionfish, scientifically know as Pterois volitans/miles. With bold maroon and white zebra stripes, and a plume of feathery spines, the lionfish is a stunning, elegant and graceful specimen and so deadly to its prey. The lionfish, also known as the turkeyfish, tigerfish, dragonfish, and butterfly cod is a poisonous spiky fish found in the warmer waters of the Western and central Pacific Ocean. The lionfish is a predatory fish hunting small fish but it’s venom is capable of being fatal to larger creatures. Indo-Pacific lionfish are rapidly invading the waters of the Caribbean and tropical Atlantic. Due to their population explosion and aggressive behavior, lionfish have the potential to become the most disastrous marine invasion in history by drastically reducing the abundance of coral reef fishes and leaving behind a devastated ecosystem. The lionfish, native to the Indo-Pacific region, have infiltrated their way into the Caribbean. Their introduction is believed to be a result of hurricanes and tank releases during the early 1990’s. They have been spotted along the eastern seaboard spanning as far north as Rhode Island to as far south as Columbia. Protected by venomous spines, lionfish are voracious and effective predators. When hunting, they herd and corner their prey using their pectoral fins, then quickly strike and swallow their prey whole. With few known natural predators, the lionfish poses a major threat to coral reef ecosystems in the Caribbean region by decreasing survival of a wide range of native reef animals via both predation and competition. While native grouper may prey on lionfish, they have been over-fished and therefore unlikely to significantly reduce the effects of invasive lionfish on coral reef communities.

Stijn and I had a great dive on the reef today and an even better mountain bike ride after! On the dive this afternoon we saw 13 Lionfish and some of them were very big!! I swam around looking for photos but really didn’t see too much of photo interest and in the end found myself photographing Lionfish. They are hands down the most beautiful fish I have ever seen but they are wiping out natural underwater ecosystem left and right, especially in the Bahamas! I really believe that if we all keep the numbers down on our own reefs it will help!! Plus, many restaurants are now paying $$$ for them so that should be an added bonus to any of you wanting to make some extra cash.

Our house guests have been cooking for us and we are loving it!! Last night she made this “Top Secret” fried rice recipe, it was insane!!


Lots to do tonight, hope all is well, Barry
Dec 25, 11     Comments Off

Good evening friends, how was your Christmas??? Mine was and is still fantastic! It’s 6:30pm Christmas Eve and the girls are busy upstairs cooking a beautiful Caribbean Christmas Feast! Our guests, Tammi, Scott, and Hannah arrived Saturday afternoon right on time with smiles glued to their faces and ready for adventure! Once we got them home they immediately unpacked Christmas presents that were sent from friends and family and stuff I had ordered for Aimee, so the night was spent with everyone in their own rooms wrapping away!! The whole neighborhood woke last night at midnight to the sound of fireworks going off next to our house in celebration of Christmas day, sure would have been nice to have a little warning as it scared us all to death waking us all out of deep sleep! We then all got up at 6:00 this morning and shredded gifts, handed out stockings, drank some good o’l Highlander Groog coffee and in general had a wonderful Christmas morning! One of the gifts Aimee and I gave to our guests was a swim with the dolphins at 9:00 this morning and from what I heard later they had a fantastic time! My mom sent home-made fudge and cookies and lots of new movies to watch, our guests gave us both a pair of new fins from their scuba store in the States, we got delicious peanut brittle, coffee and Buffalo jerkey from Joe and Nancy and Aimee got me two new biking jerseys, gloves, socks and so much more, what a great morning, why can’t every day be Christmas?? Stijn even managed to sneak a gift under the tree sometime last night, I think that surprised me the most, he got me some fun biking stuff. We got a whole suitcase of our favorite coffee from Dark Canyon Coffee Company in Rapid City, SD, thanks a million Lori!! Both Inca and Indi got their own stockings filled with toys and all kinds of chewies and they got to go for a two and half hour walk to Saint Joris this morning! Since we haven’t been their for so long the driftwood was off the hook, I found so much I could only carry the best back to the car which was almost two miles away!! Once home the dogs went straight to bed, they were toast! I unloaded the car and washed wood and at 11:00 our “Happy Campers” returned from Dolphin Heaven! We then all caught our breath and re-grouped and at 12:00 after Stijn showed up we all took off to go snorkeling at the Sea Aquarium. The snorkeling was perfect, we started by all jumping off a bridge into the sea and swimming out into the open-wild ocean, it was such a great time! After an hour of swimming with the fish we all went to the sea-glass beach and collected treasures for an hour. Stijn was the winner of the day, he found a red piece of glass that would make most adult beach-combers cry!! I believe Tammi got second place with her piece of red and Scott came in third with his!! In fact everyone found red except for me, hmmmm, oh well I found all the other colors!!

Here is yet another new deep water fish that was found at around 325 feet!!! This fish is extra cool because not only is it a new find and a new species, it’s being named after one of Dutch’s kids! Since Dutch discovered this fish he named it after his daughter Nicki so the new name will be; Coryphopterous nikkiensis, how cool is that??? This is a Saber Goby and it’s only one inch in length. It also has that cool spine on top of his head that can be lowered up or down while swimming or perched as you see here. We also have another possible new fish on the way up the reef right now and may end up being named after Dutch’s son Jonny so stay tuned this week for that cool photo.

We just had a Christmas dinner that was cooked by Tammi and Scott and it was delicious! I tell ya, having house guests that cook and do dishes??? Well, they can come back anytime!! It’s off to bed, long, fun day!! I really must say, this was one of the best Christmas days ever!! Thanks again to all for everything you sent, we loved it all!

Merry Christmas, Barry and Aimee

Dec 23, 11     Comments Off

Merry Christmas all, here is another card I made using sea-glass or beach glass if you will and a single sea-urchin skeleton. I won’t even tell you how many days this took me to photograph, it looks so easy but what a nightmare to illuminate! I always seem to have a head-full of creative, fun ideas but half the time I can’t seem to make them work! In case you haven’t guessed this is supposed to be a sea-turtle of sorts but heck it’s the Holidays so it can be whatever you want it to be!

Aimee and I are still racing around the house trying to get everything ready for our guests that arrive tomorrow, still so much to do! I did two sub dives today and in the morning Stijn is coming over for a two hour bike ride, we need to make up for lost time!

Sorry so short, just wanted to say Merry Christmas once again and to wish you all the best and say thank-you one more time for all the support in 2011!

Eat and be Merry!! Party on folks, Barry and Aimee

Dec 22, 11     Comments Off

Good evening readers!! Well, we came home today to find that our faithful DELL Computer of 10 years has finally DIED! So now I have no way to send out this blog as an e-mail anymore to those of you out there that have been receiving it direct to your doorstep each and every day! I tried everything I could think of here at the house to fix it but it seems to be permanently  down and out but I will keep trying.

Today was a day of rain, rain, rain! At 1:00 as planned we launched the sub in the water and out we went onto a very dark reef to celebrate our 500th dive with our new Mini-Sub. Aimee was our photographer and as you can see did a great job with taking our group photo today, I am so proud of her! Inside the sub are the four pilots we currently have, poor little Barbara at the bottom, Bruce on the left, Rob on the right and Michiel at the top, he was driving! On the outside it’s me and Dutch and of course Aimee took the photo, cool huh?? It’s so funny how tall I look, that’s a 10.5-2.8 fish-eye lens for you, it plays tricks on the mind! You would never know this was taken at 1:00 in the afternoon, it was so dark because of the overcast skies and rain on top! At 5:00 there was a big party inside with a cake the size of Texas but because of so much to do at home I couldn’t stay.

Well, sorry so short, hope your week is going well and your getting all your Christmas shopping done early, I still need to buy a few more things and wrap everything!

More tomorrow, Happy Holidays, Barry

Dec 22, 11     Comments Off

Good morning friends, today at 1:00 we are having a party at Substation celebrating our 500th dive with the sub! In honor of this occasion we will be doing a really fun photo underwater with the sub and Aimee will be taking the photo. Our plan is to pack everyone inside like sardines, we want all five of our pilots all looking out the big front window and I will be on the outside sitting in the basket. I believe we even had a fun cake made with a submarine on it, stay tuned and hopefully we can send you a photo tomorrow.
Here is another fish we found on a deep-run although these can be found in the shallows as well. This is a juvenile Pygmy Angelfish or Cherubfish, Centropyge argi and is what I call “one of the cuties” Unbelievable like I mentioned, this fish can be found at depths of 350 feet or in 1 foot of water, that’s quite a range! They usually inhabit deep reefs and occasionally walls, deeper than 80 feet, except southern Caribbean (Curacao), where they are often found on shallow reef tops. These fish are also one of the most difficult fish I have ever tried to photograph! The moment they spot you they dart into their holes and won’t come back out until your almost out of air! They also can be found swimming in pairs or small groups. I remember I used to find these all the time at the piers at Caracas Bay but again I wasted a whole lot of time trying to get a photo, really a fish that is scared of their own shadow, but oh so cute!!
Well, that’s about it for today, we still have lots to do in preparation for our guests but we are close to being done! Thanks for all the cards and letters, keep them coming!
Happy Holidays, Barry
Dec 21, 11     Comments Off

Merry Christmas from Curacao friends! Aimee reminded me yesterday that it’s already the 21st and I still had not posted our holiday card! Actually I have a few different ones this year and will send out another tomorrow or on Christmas. This card was created by using a small, two inch sea biscuit from the Philippines and using sea-glass under it for the colors, sounds easy but took me hours to create! As I have said before, sand dollars and sea biscuits, order Clypeasteroida, are irregular echinoids. Their bodies are disk-shaped, with a five-petal sculptured design on the back (as seen here). The mouth, which has an Aristotle’s Lantern, is centered on the underside, with the anus toward the rear. The very short compacted spines that cover the body appear as fuzz, and are well adapted for burrowing in the sand. Like heart urchins, they are rarely sighted in the open during the day but come nightfall they crawl out from under the sand and feed.
Another year has passed and we are still on this long vacation, I never would have guessed in a million years we would have been here this long. We want to thank everyone again for all the support this year especially my buddy Mike at Ikelite, without his help in keeping my underwater equipment working and running smoothly there would simply be no website or no fun underwater photos! Also, our Editor and friend Tom in Tucson for all the work selling these photos, and keeping us on a focused road, our parents, all our visitors for hauling supplies to us, and to Joe and Nancy for all the shipping and receiving they do weekly. You will never know how much we appreciate all the replies and photos you all have sent this year, it’s what helps to keep us going! Have a great week and Merry Christmas!
Our holiday guests arrive Saturday afternoon and we busy getting the fort ready for them. Our plans are to a whole lot of diving while they are here so stay tuned for some fun new shots!
Aimee and I are taking the dogs for a quick walk before we head up the US Embassy, see you tomorrow, Barry
Dec 19, 11     Comments Off

Good evening readers, here is a creepy looking, rare new fish that we found at 850 feet living in complete darkness!! This crazy looking eight inch long fish is possibly a new species of Pearlfish in the family Carapidae. The adult Pearlfish (like the one below) has a most unusual home, it lives inside the body cavity of sea cucumbers. To allow it to slip in and out of its host easily, it has an eel-like body, no pelvic fins, and no scales. It is a silvery-white color with reddish markings. At night, the Pearlfish may swim out of the sea cucumber’s anus to go hunting for invertebrates to eat, returning to the body cavity tail first. However, the Pearlfish may also eat the gonads and other organs of its host. If your interest is peaked and you want to lean more about this fascinating creature then check out this fun link I found, it will answer any and all questions you may have concerning this very cool but scary looking fish! http://echinoblog.blogspot.com/2010/05/when-fish-live-in-your-cloaca-how-anal.html

For those asking about my health, I am doing much better this evening! Really that was one of the worst colds I have ever had, it’s amazing that they can knock you out for so long!
That’s about it for today, trying hard to get ready for Christmas but we are running out of time!
More tomorrow, Barry
Dec 19, 11     Comments Off

Good morning friends, I have been sick in bed all weekend and unable to do anything! This started Thursday and was worse on Friday so bad in fact that for the first time ever I was unable to take photos of the sub underwater. Thank goodness for my colleagues Bruce and Barbara who came to my rescue, I set up the camera for them and they went out and took the photos of the sub for me. Saturday was a non-stop nose blowing event and yesterday the coughing began, oh what fun it is to be sick in paradise! I feel sorry for the dogs who didn’t get to do very much this whole weekend except lay with me in bed, both of them knew something was up.
Here is a beautiful Deep Water French Butterflyfish, Prognathodes guyanensis that was recently discovered at around 400 foot! There are more than 100 different species of butterflyfish found distributed throughout the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans, meaning that the butterflyfish is a salt-water species of (marine) fish. The average butterflyfish is fairly small and generally grows to around 4 or 5 inches in length. Some species of the butterflyfish however, are known to grow to 8 inches (20 cm) long and some butterflyfish individuals have been known to grow to 30 cm in length. This fish is most closely related to the marine angelfish which is similar in color but the marine angelfish is often much larger in size than the butterflyfish. They can also be distinguished from angelfish by the dark spots on their bodies, dark bands around their eyes and the fact that the mouth of the butterflyfish is more pointed than the mouth of the angelfish. Butterflyfish are diurnal animals which means that they are feeding during the day and resting in the coral during the night. Most species of butterflyfish feed on the plankton in the water, coral and sea anemones and occasionally snack on small crustaceans . Those butterflyfish that primarily feed on the plankton in the water are generally the smaller species of butterflyfish and can be seen in large groups. The larger species are fairly solitary or stay with their mating partner.
Here is something crazy you all have to see, some person is trying to sell a piece of paper on E-Bay for one million dollars, check it out! http://www.ebay.com/itm/One-million-Dollar-Thank-You-Piece-Paper-/180580553654?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_2&hash=item2a0b7093b6
Better get moving, send me your Christmas photos, we already have some good ones! Bye, Barry
Dec 16, 11     Comments Off

Good morning from sickville! Yep I finally am sick with a stupid cold! But the bright side if there is one, it’s been almost a year since I was last sick, so I have done pretty good until now. I was unable to go the Sea Aquarium Christmas party last night because of the non-stop nose blowing and coughing, really didn’t want to make everyone there sick. Aimee at least went and she looked great in her full length dress, I think this is the second Christmas party I have missed due to sickness.
Yesterday was a really bad day for the local wildlife and beautiful vegetation that we HAD around our house and neighborhood. A group of so-called experts came in with machetes and leveled our beautiful back yard and wiped out two thirty foot trees saying “they needed to be pruned”! Ignorance runs wild here and with zero training I guess they just don’t know or care? We had one of the best flowering yards in the whole area! Most of you are smart enough to know the difference in pruning and cutting a whole adult tree down to it’s stump right?? Aimee went over in tears to the land-lord across the street but she’s as dumb as the rest of them telling Aimee “they are professionals with certificates, I will send you a photo, you just have to see it! So now we will have no shade on the house, no where for all my birds to nest or hide during the rain and no protection from the kids throwing rocks at our windows! Real smart folks! If those trees survive, which I doubt they will it will take years for them to grow back and unfortunately this is the kind of stuff we deal with here on a daily basis! As you can tell we are really upset, and they did this up and down the street, it looks awful!
All went well yesterday at the US Embassy, Aimee made appointments for us for next week to get new passports, they said it will only take 10 days, so that’s good news!
Here is Tela and Pasku preparing to jump out of the water and soar high in the sky for all to see! We have three dolphin shows a day here at Dolphin Academy and they are always a big hit with the visitors!
Running late again, sniff, sniff, see you soon, Barry
Dec 15, 11     Comments Off

Good morning friends, thought you all would enjoy seeing our 2011 Substation Christmas card that we put together yesterday and starting with me going clockwise, it’s Me, Dutch (owner/operator), Santa, played by our own Rob, Bruce (below Santa), Wendy (intern), Barbara (on top), Michiel (holding Santa’s bag), and Stan (intern) hiding behind me. We had originally planned on doing this photo underwater but as the day progressed yesterday we said “let’s just do it outside”! After we took this photo Santa and Wendy went to the Sea Aquarium and entertained everyone with a photo with Santa, he was a big hit yesterday!! Someone asked me the other day how many dives did we do this year with the sub?? I really don’t know but I think around 500!! As many of you know our year was filled with famous visitors, World wide press including Discovery Channel and National Geographic, scientists from all over the World, lots of new discoveries, and hundreds of satisfied customers all getting to go where few have ever been, it has been a fun year! Next year our big ship called “The Chapman” should be ready and that means travel! The plan is to load the sub onto the deck of our new ship and take it all over the Caribbean for weeks at a time exploring new and exciting areas. So Merry Christmas from all of us at Substation and remember to check us all out underwater at www.seesubmarine.com
I am running a bit late this morning, fighting the first cold I have had in a year, see you, Barry
Dec 14, 11     Comments Off

Good morning friends, how are you all this fine day?? Christmas is coming up just too fast this year, I would love to slow it down a little as I still have so much to do. Our annual Sea Aquarium Christmas party is tomorrow night and will be held at the Aquarium this year, should be a lot of fun! Yesterday I was in and out of the water all day and kind of feeling a bit sick like something is coming but taking it’s own sweet time. Here in Curacao if your sick the locals will just tell you, “go swim in the ocean” it’s their cure for about everything including sore throats and athletes foot! Aimee is off today and tomorrow and I am sure will be super busy working around the house. She needs to go make an appointment for both of us at the US Embassy to have our Passports renewed, hard to believe we have been here this long!
Here is a friend of mine photographing a beautiful Black and White Crinoid, Nemaster grandis, on the reef at Blue Bay. These spectacular extant fossils can be found all over the Tropical West, Atlantic and Southern Caribbean in waters up to 130 feet. They have forty arms that are darkish/black with white tips and live completely open and exposed night and day. You will usually find them perched high on top of sponges or corals with their arms spread open. Crinoids, also known as sea lilies or feather-stars, are marine animals with a mouth on top surrounded by feeding arms. Although the basic echinoderm pattern of five-fold symmetry can be recognized, most crinoids have many more than five arms (as you can see in this photo, they can have a LOT more). They feed by filtering small particles of food from the sea water with their feather like arms. This kind of crinoid has a stem used to attach itself to a substrate (in this case the fan coral). You can gently remove them from the substrate and observe the “feet” of the stem wiggling about trying to grab hold of something. There are several hundred known forms of crinoids and I have seen them in an amazing variety of colors.
It’s off to the sea for me, still not feeling real well but maybe another dose of salt water will do the trick! PLEASE send us any and all photos of your decorated Christmas trees or house, we will be having a contest and I will post the winning picture before Christmas!! Have fun out there and be safe, Barry
Dec 13, 11     Comments Off

Good morning from the Caribbean, here’s something cool I found for you all today, these are baby Sergeant Majors still in their individual little egg sacks, neat huh? Look close and can see the eyes and developing body parts, they are just hours away from being on their own. Sergeant Major Damsel Fish get their names from the five black stripes over there bodies that resemble those of a Sergeant Major’s insignia. These fish spawn and then glue their eggs on rocks, shipwrecks, pilings, and reef outcroppings where the male sergeant major prepares the nest. Courtship rituals include males actively chasing the female during the morning hours. During this time, the males build nests. During spawning, approximately 200,000 eggs are released. These eggs are salmon or red colored, oval-shaped, and 0.5-0.9 mm in diameter. Upon fertilization, the eggs turn greenish at 96 hours and contain a deep red yolk. An adhesive filament attaches the egg to the bottom substrate. The male Sergeant Major takes on a bluish color while guarding the fertilized eggs. He guards them until they hatch which occurs within 155-160 hours following fertilization. This guarding of the eggs, characteristic of the family Pomacentridae, is unusual since most reef fishes have a planktonic stage. The larvae reach 2.4 mm in length approximately 36 hours after hatching. They are deep-bodied, with the caudal and pectoral fins visible, prominent lips, and well-developed jaw bones. As I came in close for a shot today the male guarding these eggs did everything he could think of to get me away from his babies, they are very aggressive! After I backed off he then went back to work guarding the eggs and chasing off fish after fish that swam in to try and eat his children. Most of the time these eggs will not survive as schools of fish will charge the Sergeant Major all at once and there is nothing he can do but watch, it’s a fish eat fish World out there! 
 
Christmas is coming up fast! I honestly can’t believe it’s less than two weeks away and we still have so much to do in preparation for the arrival of our guests.
 
Yesterday I did one dive with the sub and then spent the rest of the day inside the deep-water fish lab photographing specimens and learning about their diet. The man currently taking care of our fish is leaving this morning for a week to the States so I will be helping take care and feed all the fish each and every day while he is gone, I think it’s going to be really fun.
 
After work Stijn and I met two riders that are here from Holland doing an article for a magazine called “Bike Freaks” They have been here for a week riding and racing and photographing all the different areas and last night was our turn to show them what we have to offer on the World Cup course. We ended up only doing one lap because they wanted to photograph Stijn and I going thru or down some of the more technical challenging spots on the course and we did this over and over until they got the photo they wanted. So other than getting stung by a bee on the ear, and cutting up one of my fingers along side a razor sharp wall we had a great time!
 
We have a busy day of fun in the sub ahead, I better get moving! Till tomorrow, Barry

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