ABOUT

Avid outdoorsman and underwater photographer, Barry Brown has spent the last 12 years documenting life above and below water in Curacao, Netherlands Antilles. He is currently working with the Smithsonian Institution documenting new Caribbean deep-water species and building a one of a kind database. His underwater images can regularly be seen in Sport Diver, Scuba Diver and on the Ikelite website. His image of a "Collage of Corals" seen under blue-light at night recently placed in the TOP 10 images for the 2014 NANPA (North American Nature Photographers Association) photo contest.

General

Archive for January, 2012

Jan 30, 12     Comments Off on Whimbrels or Curlews?? Tropical Caribbean Birds

Good evening friends, did you all have a nice weekend?? We received a cool photo from some friends this weekend in South Dakota who went on a 7.5 mile hike in the snow with snowshoes, how fun is that?! That’s something Aimee and I have only ever done once but it was a blast. So let’s see, Sunday I took the girls (dogs) for a three hour photo-hiking adventure at Saint Joris bay and we all had a great time! I was photographing the endangered mangroves when I spotted these two cool looking birds that I have never seen here before and can’t tell if they are Whimbrels or Curlews, I need your help again! The birds are ultra cool with their long curved bill which is obviously used for hunting for food in the mud. It’s been so long since I had been to the mangroves that I had forgotten just how special they are. While photographing the birds and the beautiful surroundings I found a new snail that I have been searching for. I have only ever found the shell on the shore and never a live one but Sunday I found them live in all colors and sizes stuck to the arms of the mangroves just above the water line, they are super cool and maybe one of my new favorites!
 
I have a great new link for you all tonight compliments of my buddy Scott in Rapid City, South Dakota. Through the mediums of music, film and comedy- The Tank Bangers aim to unite marine focused conservation groups and research initiatives around the World. Together we can shout a louder message that warns against the continued mistreatment of our World, check out this cool film called “OUR BLUE”!!

 
Today was crazy busy, I first did a dive with some baby squids again and then rushed to take some needed photos for Scuba Diver Magazine which they needed ASAP.
 
Sorry so short, more tomorrow, I have lots of fun Christoffel shots to share and more baby squids.
 
See you soon, Barry
Jan 29, 12     Comments Off on Pay it Foward Stories, Helping Hand, Friendship

Good morning friends, meet our buddy Juan. His real name is Juan Guillermo Palomeque Padilla and he is one of the nicest people we have met here in Curacao. We see him every week because he is the man who bags and carries our groceries out to the car at a little store called Vreugdenhil which is very close to our house. Juan has been here for 11 years but his family lives in Paraquilla, Columbia and in those 11 years he has only been home to see his wife and daughter 7 times because flying is so expensive! He communicates with his wife Sofia and his daughter Jessica via the telephone which as you can imagine can be very costly as well! So a week ago with the help of a translator I told Juan that Saturday morning at 8:30 I am taking you to the airport to get you a ticket to go home! He immediately started to cry and broke down saying “May God Bless You” and so on and so forth and I replied “he already has”. I explained to him via my human translator that so many folks have helped us in so many ways and for once we are able to help you. So yesterday Stijn went with us to the airport to help with the Spanish/Papiamento translation, I would say something in English and Stijn would translate and then write it down for me in a book so I didn’t forget. We marched Juan into the Avianca Airlines counter and said “one to Columbia please” and within minutes he was the proud owner of a ticket home! We didn’t pay for this alone, our friends Ron and Aubrey left $100 for him when they were here and Sal and Patty left some $ behind that went to this cause as well so thank you all again! The ticket only cost around $500 but for Juan would take a year to save. He made the reservation for the whole month of June as he wants to be there for his wife’s birthday. He told us yesterday that his family will pick him up from the airport and then it’s about a 45 minute drive to Paraquilla where he lives. Juan left Columbia because of the violence and good jobs are very difficult to find. I believe he sends money home to his family every month via Western Union or the bank and is planning on working here for just two more years before heading back home. Like many locals or visitors he walks everywhere or takes the bus and lives entirely on tips, he does not get an hourly wage. I’m considered a big tipper here in Curacao, I give Juan or the others 5 Guilders every time they pack up our food and haul it out to the car, that’s around $2.30. So like I told Juan yesterday, “we are all in this rat race together so why not try to help someone out if you can?” Again I can’t even begin to tell you how many folks have helped us along the way and like my aunt Shari once told us after bailing us out of a jam, “Just Pay it Forward down the road”! 
 
After the airport adventure and returning him back to the store Stijn and I took off at top speed headed to Mount Christoffel where we spent the whole day climbing and taking photos, you have a week of those photos to come!
 
Aimee is off to do a swimming race and I am walking the dogs and doing two dives today! Have a wonderful Sunday!!
 
Barry
Jan 28, 12     Comments Off on Baby Caribbean Reef Squids, Sepioteuthis sepioidea

Good morning friends, it 5:00am here and super quiet! I have a very busy day planned ahead IF it doesn’t rain again! I am picking up Stijn at 8:00am and we are both first taking a friend of mine out to the airport to get him a ticket so he can get home to see his family in South America, will tell you this story more next week. After that we are planning on going to Mount Christoffel for the whole day doing photography. It’s something I have always wanted to do but have never taken the time to do it. Stijn will be helping me carry gear all day and help me set up any black-back-drop photos I may be taking so if it happens we may end up having some fun Curacao wildlife/vegetation photos for you next week.

For the past few days a group of four baby Caribbean Reef Squids, Sepioteuthis sepioidea have been living in our little lagoon at the Substation. The biggest one seen here is only about an inch and a half long. They spend their days just hovering in one spot under a big piece of algae encrusted rope that is hanging in the water and close to the surface. So yesterday after the sub dive I ran inside and put together another camera with the good-ol 28-70 lens and took off back to the water. When photographing squids you have to move real slow! In fact, what I do is just park myself about a meter from them and just hover there for 10 minutes before I start taking any pictures, that way they start to get a bit used to you. The basic coloring of a Caribbean reef squid is a mottled medium green to brown on their dorsal (upper) side with lighter coloring on their ventral (under) side for camouflage from predators swimming above or below them. These animals are social creatures often found in small groups that communicate through a variety of complex signals. Both cuttlefish and squid communicate by controlling the pigment in their skin. Messages such as readiness to mate, sexual identification, and alarm are flashed through various colorful spots, blotches, and background color. To signal slight alarm, their brow ridges turn bright gold and their central arms turn white. Their entire body will pale when a squid retreats from a potential predator and in open water when faced with an extremely aggressive predator, reef squid can also hide themselves and confuse predators by ejecting a cloud of black ink. Retreating squid near the protection of the reef will often turn dark brown or reddish in color to match their surroundings.

In addition to their colorful signaling behavior, S. sepioidea display unique behaviors such as pointing their bodies upward or vertically prior to striking a fish or prey, curling upward during territorial disputes and in hostile situations, and pointing head-down when approached by a predator in open water. As you can see here this little guy put his arms out as far as he could to make himself look bigger to try and scare me away, I was laughing underwater at how darn cute he was! Compared to the size of their body, squid’s eyes are strikingly large. They have the largest eye-to-body ratio in the entire animal kingdom.

I better get moving, I will send more baby squids shots this week! Have a wonderful weekend,

Barry

 
Jan 26, 12     Comments Off on Passiflora foetida, Passion Flower, Purple Flowers

 

Hi friends, here’s one of the prettiest flowers on the island called a Passion flower or Passiflora foetida. It is also known as Love-in-a-Mist, Foetid Passionflower, Running Pop, Scarletfruit Passionflower, Stinking Passionflower, Tagua Passionflower, Wild Passion Fruit and Wild Water Lemon. The name foetida (Latin for foetid) came about because the damaged leaves emit an unpleasant odor. This species is quite varied: the flowers can be white, pink, purple or blue and the fruits are orange and the size of a kumquat. The leaves are trilobed or pentalobed, hairy and sticky and the stems are very thin, also covered with sticky hair. These sticky hairs can catch insects which are digested by enzymes contained in the sticky liquid. It is not clear if the plant retrieves part of its diet from this, it is more likely that it is a protection against possible damage caused by these insects. Many Passiflora have very complex flowers, some are scented, some are used in commercial perfumes. In the early 1600’s Catholic priests in Peru saw a religious symbolism to this plant. The name “Passion Flower” is said to derive from the vines flower resembling the crown of thorns placed on Christ’s head. Others say that the parts of the plant symbolize features of the Crucifixion, known as, “the Passion of Christ”. The ten sepals and petals are the ten apostles (minus Judas and Peter), the darker circle the crown of thorns, the five stamens the wounds, the three styles the nails, and the leaves the hands of the persecutors.

For those of you asking, the little mamma hummingbird is doing great and still sitting on her eggs, we just got home from watching her.

It was another busy day, I dove and Aimee worked with dolphins, yeah I know tough life!!

Dinner is calling, Barry

PS; I want to thank everyone again for you continued support and all the GREAT comments I receive each and every day! In fact I get so many comments (around 1500 a week) that it is no longer possible for me to answer them but know that I really do appreciate you taking the time to post a comment!! Cheers!!

 

Jan 26, 12     Comments Off on DYKKING Magazine, Norwegian Sport’s Diving Magazine

Good morning from the Caribbean! Well guess what, I am for once on the cover of a magazine!! The newest issue, soon to be released will have a photo of yours truly doing what I do everyday, taking pictures underwater of our new mini-submarine, pretty cool huh? For those of you wanting a copy, you will have to go to their website http://www.dykking.no and request or buy a copy direct from them, I am not sure if we will get any copies in Curacao but I hope they send a few. Inside this issue is a great write-up about the sub “if you can read it” and I have other photos inside as well including a shot with the two gentlemen that came down to do the story. The Norwegian sports-diving magazine DYKKING (which means Diving) is Norway’s only dive magazine, published since 1983, with six issues a year. The majority of Norway’s 30.000+ divers read DYKKING on a regular basis. DYKKING is now also sold in Sweden, distributed by Interpress, Sweden’s largest magazine and newspaper distributor. The magazine takes pride in presenting well-researched articles, accompanied by an extensive use of high quality images. DYKKING is printed entirely in color, on high quality paper with a glossy cover. So I guess it’s like they say, “famous for a day” or in the case 60 days as they only print 6 issues a year!
 
Aimee and I both had a very busy day at work yesterday and decided to relax in the evening by going to the movies! We went to see the second “Sherlock Holmes”, it was good but not as good as the first one but still we had a great time!
 
That’s about it, running a bit late this morning, have a wonderful day!!!! Barry
Jan 24, 12     Comments Off on Blue-tailed Emerald Hummingbird, Chlorostilbon mellisugus

Good evening readers, this morning as Aimee and I left the house our next door neighbor pulls up in her car and says, “I just saw the cutest thing ever”!! She said there is hummingbird in her yard laying on two tiny little eggs in a small yucca bush and that we just had to see it!! We quickly ran over and quietly peeked into the plant and sure enough there it was, a tiny little nest with two eggs the size of jelly beans, but no hummingbird? Since we were running late and we had to go I told our neighbor and Aimee I will go back later today and check again and try to get a few photos. So after doing a sub dive I took off back to the house for lunch and to let the dogs and to go check on the hummingbird. I grabbed my camera and tripod and took off and immediately saw from a distance that the female hummingbird was now home and sitting on the nest. I ever so quietly moved in and was shocked at how trusting this bird was, it never really moved at all! I honestly sat about two feet away from the nest for around 30 minutes and never once did this small little bird show any signs off stress, really amazing. This is a Common or Blue-tailed Emerald Hummingbird, Chlorostilbon mellisugus. The male is a glittering green (emerald) color while the female (seen here) is duller with grey under parts. I will keep you posted on new developments, so stay tuned!
 
At 5:00 Stijn and I took off on our weekly Tuesday night ride. About 15 minutes into our ride we passed two nice local dogs on the beach and we figured the owner must be here somewhere just out of view. My gut feeling told me to stop and to make sure that there was a person here so I yelled at Stijn to hold-up and lets see if we can find some owners!! I called the dogs over and Stijn went to look for a human but sure enough these were two lost dogs! I immediately called Aimee and told her to grab some leashes and get down here to the beach ASAP and help me get these dogs back to the car, I figured at least they would be safe at our house. Well, as we were holding them and petting them we noticed they both had a phone number written on their collars! I grabbed my phone and called and prayed someone would answer! The phone rang and I said, “are you missing two dogs”?? A woman’s voice came on and said YES, where are you?? Turns out the dogs were a long ways from home and had been gone for days! Aimee showed up and put them on a leash and we all went back to the car where the dogs owner was waiting! It was a great reunion, talk about a happy ending, those two dogs will sleep good tonight!
 
It’s off to bed, still raining here!! See ya, Barry
Jan 24, 12     Comments Off on Cotton Plant, Gossypium hirsutum, Cotton Flowers

Good morning friends, here’s another flower from the same cotton plant, Gossypium hirsutum that I sent you a few weeks ago, except this one is light yellow. These are growing wild and out of control behind the Curacao Sea Aquarium. Gossypium hirsutum is a soft, fluffy, staple fiber that grows in a form known as a boll around the seeds of the cotton plant, a shrub native to tropical and subtropical regions around the world, including the Americas, India and Africa. The fiber most often is spun into yarn or thread and used to make a soft, breathable textile, that is a most widely used natural-fiber in clothing today. Through genetic assistance and breeding, today’s cottons have evolved from these “wild” sources and are more processing friendly. Currently, there are five prominent types of cotton being grown commercially around the world: Egyptian, Sea Island, American Pima, Asiatic and Upland.  In addition to the textile industry, cotton is in fishnets, coffee filters, tents, gunpowder (see Nitrocellulose), cotton paper, and in bookbinding. The cottonseed which remains after the cotton is ginned is used to produce cottonseed oil, which, after refining, can be consumed by humans like any other vegetable oil. The cottonseed meal that is left generally is fed to ruminant livestock. Cottonseed hulls can be added to dairy cattle rations for roughage. The top leading producers of cotton are China, India, US, Pakistan and Egypt. The five leading exporters of cotton are (1) the United States, (2) India, (3) Uzbekistan, (4) Brazil, and (5) Australia. The cotton plant is grown from seed and usually bears fruit or bolls in about 100 days after planting. Around 45 days after, the cotton boll will begin to naturally split open along the bolls segments or carpels and dry out, exposing the underlying cotton segments called locks.  An average boll will contain nearly 500,000 fibers of cotton and each plant may bear up to 100 bolls.
 
Since it rained almost all day yesterday I took the day off and completed a ton of little jobs that really had to get finished. I first photographed a new snail I found in the driveway and again in doing so got stung not once but twice in the arm by hornets that were nesting in nearby bush. My arm was super swollen all day yesterday and is still a bit puffy this morning. I then spent at least two hours trying to finish my new driftwood creation that will be a gift for a friends new house, boy is it heavy, I bet it weighs close to 200 pounds! At 6:00 I had a meeting at Carmabi, that’s our local “coral research”/ “coral protection” agency here in Curacao and they really do a pretty good job. I went there asking for help and advise in moving some corals that must be moved soon in front of a new development and they were very helpful.
 
That’s it for me today, not a whole lot going on, hope all is well out there! Be back soon, Barry
 
Jan 23, 12     Comments Off on Peach Encrusting sponge, Clathria, sp, Encrusting Sponges

Good morning friends, is it me or did that particular weekend go by way to fast?? I burned my Saturday up by working and diving at the Substation www.substation-curacao.com  And while I am on that subject, for those of you asking, our underwater “live feed” is currently not working, it was in need of maintenance and is in the shop.
 
After work on Saturday I ran the dogs out to Saint Joris bay for a walk and swim. About half way thru the walk they both found an iguana sitting in a tree on a ten foot cliff. Well to make a long story short, the iguana jumped off the cliff into the ocean and Inca followed! I watched this from far away and just couldn’t believe that my eight year old pride and joy just jumped from that height, I was almost in shock! The iguana of course landed perfectly at the waters edge and took off swimming but when Inca landed she crashed and burned! I honesty thought one or two of her legs would be broken but after she got up and shock it off she was fine!?? I’m telling you she landed so hard and even though she was now walking I figured she will be limping bad tomorrow so I better get her home ASAP. To my complete surprise she is fine and never showed any signs of body damage even though her landing looked painful, so thank goodness for little miracles!
 
On Sunday, yesterday I drove the dogs out to the Jan Thiel area and we walked to my Calabash trail to check on a tree that has fallen over the trail and try to fix it. When I got there I found that it did not fall but a large trunk has now gotten lower because of it’s weight and is in fact so low that you can not ride under it anymore. I studied it for 15 minutes but there will be no way to fix it as the tree itself is know as “Ironwood” and can not be cut, it’s the hardest wood I have ever seen! I am thinking I will have to just build a new trail around it but will have to wait till the dry season, it’s a jungle out there!
 
After the walk I worked on a driftwood table that will be a gift for a friend and then took off on an hour mountain bike ride. It pretty much rained off and on all day so the trails were still fairly muddy and riding was a bid dangerous with the slick rocks. Because of the rain my morning ritual is now going outside before work each morning and picking up the land snails that are taking over our yard and driveway! If I don’t pick them up they get stepped on and to hear that sound under your shoes is not a pleasant feeling. In the process of picking them up this week I have found two new species of snails that I have never seen here in Curacao before. I have sent the photos to the “snail experts” at the World famous Smithsonian Institution in Washington and should have photos and a report for you sometime next month, I got some really cool shots of them.
 
Here is something else cool that again most divers will never stop to look at. This is a variety of Peach Encrusting sponge, Clathria, sp with beautiful little orange Golden Zoanthids, Parazoanthus swiftii attached to it. This species of sponge encrusts dead areas of reef and walls, especially under ledges, in recesses and other protected areas. And the Zoanthid colonies grow in meandering, band like rows. When the Zoanthid polyps are closed the colonies appear as golden patches. Large numbers of individuals colonize several species of sponges, including; Thin Rope Sponge, Rhaphidolphlus, Green Finger Sponge, Iotrochota birotulata, Brown Tube Sponge, Agelas conifera and of course Peach Encrusting Sponge as seen here.
 
Have a great Monday, I need to get this party started!! Do the best you can out there, Barry
Jan 20, 12     Comments Off on Artichoke Coral, Scolymia cubensis, Smooth Disk Coral,

Hi friends, Here is one of the coolest most over-looked corals on the reef, it’s called an Artichoke Coral or Scolymia cubensis. This animal is also known as a Solitary Disk coral, Smooth Disk coral, Doughnut coral, Flat Brain coral, Modern Meat coral, or just Meat coral, Atlantic Mushroom coral, and Tooth coral, talk about a animal with a whole lot of names! When I say “Meaty Coral” the meaty association is a reference to the polyps’ fleshiness and also to the common red coloration. This coral is found in the Atlantic waters in deeper habitats. They are solitary and grow up to four inches in diameter, and form a saucer shape. They have a smoother surface than S. lacera and is a solid green, red or brown with very little of any other colors. I believe this is a juvenile Artichoke coral because of the brownish/maroon ring on the outside, the adults are more one color. Underneath this beautiful green fleshy creature is a skeleton made entirely of calcium carbonate with it’s own unique designs and patterns. Other more popular Stony corals like Sheet corals, Brain corals, Star corals, Pillar corals and Finger corals just to name a few also have their own unique calcium carbonate skeletons underneath. These small, colorful corals generally inhabit deep reefs and walls but can be occasionally found shallower. They prefer shaded areas on rocky substrates and also grow in low-light conditions under ledge overhangs and in cave openings. During the night the polyp tentacles will emerge and the animal will feed by grabbing plankton and particles as they pass by.
 
 All is well here, have a wonderful weekend!! Cheers, Barry
Jan 19, 12     Comments Off on Caribbean Green Iguana, Iguana iguana, Caribbean Reptiles

Good evening Amigo’s!! I found this big, beautiful Green Iguana, Iguana iguana on the way to work this morning laying in the sun on top of a big rock, overlooking the ocean. From my view point I could only see his head and front legs so I was a bit limited on the composition. Even with my 200mm lens he spotted me and immediately started moving his head up and down as if to say, “your close enough, one more step and I am gone”! Here in Curacao this is by far the number one most admired creature by visiting tourists. A fully grown male can reach up to two meters in length, that’s over six feet long and yes, this includes the tail! Despite their size Iguana’s can move very quickly! Iguana’s are very much like some of the creatures I find underwater in the way that when you first spot one and you make eye contact they will almost always first remain completely motionless and rely first on their own camouflage. And second, if they still feel they are in danger they will move or shift their bodies to the side of the tree away from danger and often peep with one eye from behind the trunk to see if the coast is clear. And third, if all else fails, they will run or jump in the opposite direction as fast as they can and usually not stopping to look back. Large Green Iguana’s have a grey-green color while the young are bright green though they can darken quickly when in danger or frightened. Iguana’s will only eat leaves and fruit and have the capacity to always choose the leaves with the highest nutrient value. Females will deposit their eggs in a hole that they have dug in the sand. The locals call these Yuana and in Dutch it’s Groene Leguaan.
 
My hand is still fully swollen from the wasp sting yesterday but is a bit better.
 
Have a great day all, Barry
Jan 19, 12     Comments Off on Eleutherodactylus johnstonei, Caribbean Tree Frogs

Good morning friends, last night after getting home from work it poured, and like magic there were little Tree Frogs, Eleutherodactylus johnstonei jumping around everywhere! Honestly our back deck was covered in these little frogs, I have never seen that many here before! So I did what any dedicated photographer would do, I ran in and grabbed my 105 macro and spent the night outside in the rain! I found this sweet little beauty singing in our big potted plant that we have by the back door, he was loving the rain! This very small tree frog is thought to be introduced to Curacao in the eighties. Probably the frogs or their eggs were hidden in potting soil from Venezuela. Actually the frog belongs in the humid environments of the South American rain-forests. Here in Curacao this little frog cannot live outside of urban areas, like our deserts or North Coast areas, it has to be in areas that are getting watered regularly. It prefers potted plants or plants which hold a bit of water themselves like bromeliads. One may hear the melodious whistle of this Tree Frog in many places all over the island but their favorite places to live are in the well watered bushes of your favorite resort. Although the whistling reminds some people of romantic tropical nights the sound they make can be quite irritating especially if your new to the island. When we first arrived it drove me crazy at night but now I can’t seem to sleep without it. The frequency used by the frogs is such that the sound is very difficult to locate, an excellent adaptation for fooling would be predators but quite annoying if your a photographer with a camera and you can hear them but can’t find them?? Here is Curacao the locals call these frogs “Koki” and in Dutch, your goning to love this one, it’s called a “Fluitkikker” yeah say that one 10 times real fast! The downside to my night of fun-with-frogs is that I got badly stung by a some wasps that were hiding in a hidden nest on this same plant! My hand this morning looks like I am wearing a baseball glove, truly amazing! I doesn’t really hurt it’s just swollen beyond belief and yes I did put ice on it most of the night and took some medication, that didn’t really seem to help!
 
Well, it just started to rain again, I need to go and clear water off our deck and check for any more stranded tree frogs.
 
Have a wonderful day folks!! Barry
Jan 17, 12     Comments Off on Caribbean Honey Bee, Apis mellifera, Bee’s, Pollen

Good evening friends, I found a little Curacao Honey Bee, Apis mellifera for you all tonight who was so busy with his Pollinating duties that she never once gave me a second look. The whole island is blooming right now and many of the beautiful flowers like this one, are just weeds. I need to find a book on Caribbean weeds, just about all of them have beautiful flowers. Just like wasps, bees live in large colonies Ruled by a “Queen Bee” who lays all the eggs! Yeah sounds like a lot of work! The workers (in this case sterile females) take care of all those eggs and larvae which is where the expression “Busy as a Bee” comes from!! Bees collect pollen and nectar from flowers which are used to feed the larvae and themselves. The nest is built out of many combs which consist of hexagonal cells made of wax. Bees may sting but they will do so only when their own lives are in danger. The fact is that when they sting they lose their own life! The sting is actually a modified ovipositor and possesses barbs. Once inserted it cannot be withdrawn so when the bee tears itself loose it rips open it’s own abdomen and dies! Of course bees play a very important role in carrying pollen from one plant to the next (as you see here), in this way taking care of the fertilization in plants. without bees many of our agricultural crops would not yield the harvest they do now. Here is Curacao the locals call these Honey Bees, Abeha and in Dutch it’s called a Bij.
 
We just had a real hard rain and the little frogs are now going crazy!! I stayed home sick all day but am feeling better, tomorrow is a busy sub day so I sure hope I am able to dive!
 
Off to bed, be well, Barry
Jan 17, 12     Comments Off on Coral Vines or Bride’s Tears, Antigonon leptopus

Good morning from sickville AGAIN!! Now I am sick with another stupid cold and Aimee is still fighting hers. We currently have a record amount of people sick at work which means those who aren’t sick soon will be. I even ran into an old friend out walking his dogs and he was so sick with the flu he could hardly walk, I didn’t even shake his hand, I just yelled “Happy New Year” and ran past him at full speed!
 
Our island still looks like a Brazilian rainforest even though the rains have stopped considerably. Most of the island is currently covered in this carpet of pink flowers called Coral Vines or Bride’s Tears, Antigonon leptopus and it’s more or less killing everything underneath. In this photo there is supposed to be a big beautiful tree on the right but with all the rain this plant completely covered it! The Coral vine is very difficult to remove as it possesses small tubers which can grow quite deep into the ground. After the rains these tubers will rapidly sprout new vines and within a short time everything will again be covered by this plant! The leaves are oblong heart-shaped and make a knobby impression. The flowers hang down in large fiery rose-red branches. There also exists a variety with white flowers and to see a large area of this color variation is truly a sight to behold, it’s like a blanket of snow covering everything.
 
Hope all is well out there, miss you guys!! Barry
Jan 15, 12     Comments Off on Mountain Biking in Curacao Along the North Coast

“Stijn Watches While Tico Takes A GIANT Leap Into The Sea”

“North Coast Cave Fed By The Ocean”

“Riding Thru Playa Canoa”

“The Giant Windmills Have Been Torn Down”

“Stijn Checking Out The Landhouse At Koral Tabak”

Good evening friends, Stijn and I just got home from a super fun three hour mountain-bike ride along our wild and windy rough North coast. We started our ride today near a little town called Montana and rode first to Saint Joris bay. The wind was pretty heavy today making our ride really fun in one direction and not so fun in the other! We followed the waters edge at Saint Joris until we ran out of waters edge and then headed up and over a little mountain sending us straight down into where the ocean feeds Saint Joris bay, we call it the North coast. We immediately ran into my work colleagues Tico and Michiel who were on there way for a dive/lobster hunt but to get there they had to jump off this insane rock wall into very rough water! My question was and still is, “how do you get back out”?? Stijn and I both looked at each other shaking our heads and said, “no thanks”, those guys are crazy! From there you can follow a very rough but beautiful and fun two track four-wheel drive road along the whole North coast. Our next stop was this cool cave that is fed underground by the ocean. Many folks come here on calm North coast days and dive here but so far I have never done it. They say you just enter the cave as you see here with all your scuba gear on and dive under a big section of rocky shore-line and “presto” your out in the ocean! As I have been told the hard part is finding the hole to get back, just not sure I’m up for that yet, maybe after a few thousand more dives! Our next stop was Playa Canoa and seconds after taking this photo we got soaked by a surprise tropical storm, there was no where to run! Canoa is a favorite spot for surfers here in Curacao as you can see and it’s also one of the only semi-protected bays for fisherman so they use it to park their boats and have a cool little rustic village set up here. Soaked to the bone we carried on and headed West but soon we got hit with another downpour and within seconds the ground was soaked and we were caked in mud! So you guessed it we turned around and started back, now heading directly into the wind and let me tell you, that was zero fun! After drafting Stijn for around 15 minutes we finally came to what is now left of the giant windmills. The blades are all gone, must have been hauled away and all that remain are these big posts that once held the spinning giants in place. Not sure what they are doing out there but it looks like they may be building new ones, stay tuned if I hear something I will pass it along. Our final adventure of the day was riding our bikes up to this beautiful old 1800’s Landhouse. Stijn said it’s called “Landhouse Coral Tabak” which makes sense to me. He rode around investigating the whole scene while I took photos, and I think it’s safe to say we had a great time here! It was now getting late and we were still quite a ways from home so off we went back into the wind, fun, fun, fun!! We did make one more stop and that was to watch the illegal races at the speedway we have here in Curacao. It happens every Sunday evening on a paved stretch of road about a half mile in length. They race everything they can find, we even say a kid doing a long wheelie on a moped! We managed to get back to Stijn’s house just before dark and I was thankful to be done, that wind is just enough to drive one crazy! It’s so much fun having a strong tailwind but turning around and riding into it for an hour and a half is just not a good time! Fun ride.

We did a whole lot of trail work on Saturday morning and on Sunday, it’s starting to look like a mountain bike park out there! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend, see you again soon, Barry

Jan 13, 12     Comments Off on Bicolor Variation Coney, Cephalopholis fulva, Sea Bass

Good evening friends, it’s FRIDAY!! I hope that means many of you get to have a long and fun weekend but I am sure that some will end up having to work. Aimee woke up sick and didn’t go into work and I wasn’t feeling much better. It’s yet another case of everyone around us is sick again and there’s just no way to avoid it! Being that I was feeling down as well I decided to immediately head for the ocean for a big dose of salt-water which the locals claim will cure almost anything! I quickly assembled my camera into it’s underwater housing, loaded the 105 macro lens, put the special port on, charged the batteries and did a quick test, it was good to go. Then I found my long wet-suit and warm booties as the water now is the coldest it’s been all year, good for the corals and sea-life, bad for divers! Honestly this was one of the first dives where I was actually cold and wasn’t having a great time, I couldn’t feel my hands! Minutes into the dive I spotted this big adult “bicolor variation” Coney, Cephalopholis fulva hiding or hanging out under a beautiful gorgonian with his smaller girlfriend. This is a Sea Bass and like all bass they have heavy bodies and large lips not to mention big mouths!! At first when I arrived he was somewhat nervous but then I quietly laid down in the sand in front of him and just waited for the next 15 minutes while he became more and more brave. These fish like so many others are very territorial, he chased off two parrotfish and a squirrelfish that got to close and I am sure he opened his mouth for me saying; “get out of here” in fish language!! Normally these fish are seen in shades of reddish brown to brown, kind of all one color, these bicolor one’s are harder to find and much more beautiful! There is also a bright yellow variation with electric blue spots, that one is down right spectacular and can be found all over the reefs in Bonaire. This guy here was around 12-13 inches in length and can get to be 16 inches in length. I normally never see these fish deeper than 60 feet either, they seem to love the 40 foot zone but occasionally I will see one hanging out right near the surface in 10 feet of water.
 
Dinner is calling and I need to get to bed early as Stijn and I are doing trail work early in the morning. Have a wonderful weekend, talk to you Sunday night or Monday morning.
 
Barry

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