Avid outdoorsman and underwater photographer, Barry Brown has spent the last 12 years documenting life above and below water in Curacao, Netherlands Antilles. He is currently working with the Smithsonian Institution documenting new Caribbean deep-water species and building a one of a kind database. His underwater images can regularly be seen in Sport Diver, Scuba Diver and on the Ikelite website. His image of a "Collage of Corals" seen under blue-light at night recently placed in the TOP 10 images for the 2014 NANPA (North American Nature Photographers Association) photo contest.
Archive for February, 2012
Feb 29, 12 Comments Off on Frangipani Worm, Pseudosphinx tetrio, Giant Sphinx Moth
Good evening readers, here is something super cool, it’s a six inch long worm called a Frangipani Worm, Pseudosphinx tetrio that will eventually turn into a giant moth! I got a call from my buddy Mark yesterday at the World famous Dive Bus Hut and he said, “Barry, you need to come over to my house ASAP and check out these long, beautiful worms /caterpillars that are covering my Frangipani tree”. I told him I wish I could but I was super busy but, I will try as hard as I can to get there the following day. So today I called him again and asked if the worms were still there and he said yes, I told him I was on my way!! Once at the house I almost fell over with delight in seeing something so cool and for once having a camera in hand. Mark wasn’t kidding when he said “there are caterpillars everywhere”, I think we found at least 10 today, most were a bit too high for me to reach but we lucked out and found a few feeding down low. With Marks help I stayed close to an hour shooting away and watching them eat, it was great. The below description comes from a site called “All at Sea”, read on!!!www.allatsea.net/article/January_2007/The_Value_of_the_Frangipani_Worms
The Frangipani worm, also known as the Frangipani Hornworm due to the spike near its tail, begins life the same as all butterflies and moths, as an egg. Measuring approximately 8/100 of an inch, the pale green Frangipani worm eggs are laid in clusters of 50-100 on the underside of leaves. Within hours of hatching, the larvae, or caterpillars, take on the outstanding coloration described above. It is believed that the coloration of the caterpillars warns predators away as they mistake the caterpillars for venomous Coral snakes. Predators who do not pay heed to the danger-signaling colors may find themselves sickened or even killed by the poisonous toxins harbored in the caterpillar’s bodies. Found from Brazil through Central America, the West Indies, and southern Florida, the Frangipani caterpillars feed upon the leaves of dogbane plants including frangipani (or plumeria), allamanda, rubber vine, and the devil’s potato. These plants produce sap that is toxic to most species, including man, but which the caterpillars are able to ingest without harm. Scientists studying the Frangipani caterpillars have reported occasional bites when handling the caterpillars as well as some instances of keratitis when hairs from the caterpillars have inadvertently been rubbed into a human’s eyes. Because the caterpillars do not have a flexible outer skin, they must molt as they grow, sometimes molting as many as five times within a two week period. Once they have reached their maximum size of up to six inches, the next phase of development takes place as they become pupae, encased in a hard shell which falls to the ground where it incubates in leaf litter or in subterranean burrows. When first formed the pupae is yellow but within a few hours the pupal covering develops brown spots with darker banding on the abdomen. As the pupae mature they become brownish red with darker, almost black abdominal banding. Upon emerging (eclosing) from the pupae, the Frangipani worm becomes the Tetrio or Giant Gray Sphinx moth. When first eclosed, the moth is helpless and vulnerable as it waits for its wings to dry and become stable for flight. Females, larger than their male counterparts, have wingspans of over five inches. While some consider the Giant Gray Sphinx moth to be rather drab and unattractive, closer inspection reveals an intricate wing pattern of camouflaging with black, gray, white, and several shades of brown mixed in fuzzy looking zigzagging lines broken by solid color patches. Their bodies are banded in gray, brown and white while their heads sport very large black eyes and long white antennae. Not particularly attracted to light as most moths, the Giant Gray Sphinx moth feeds upon nectar. Due to their long, needle-like proboscis and the way they hover and dart about when feeding from a flower, they are sometimes mistaken for hummingbirds. And, like hummingbirds and bees, the Giant Gray Sphinx moth carries pollen from one plant to another thus providing a valuable service. Seen virtually year-round in Central America except for the months of December and March, the Giant Gray Sphinx moth has been observed in the summers as far north as Pennsylvania as well as states bordering the Mississippi River indicating they may migrate for very long distances. Although there is no doubt that the Giant Gray Sphinx moth caterpillar, commonly called the Frangipani worm, feeds upon the leaves of ornamental plants such as frangipani and allamanda, experts disagree on the danger they represent to these plants. While the local people I spoke with concerning the “worm” I found on the wall swear that every worm should be killed to prevent the total destruction of decorative plants, entomologists differ in opinions. Some say the “worms” only eat leaves that are about to fall as a result of the plant’s cyclical shedding. Others claim that, unless there is a heavy infestation of the worms, only a few leaves will be lost to their feeding. Still others claim that only a handful of Frangipani worms can strip a 20′ tree bare within a few days.
I am still trying to photograph my little octopus, he was in his shell home all day! That’s about it, another fun day in Curacao, Barry
Feb 29, 12 Comments Off on The Evo Dive Site in Bonaire, Klein Bonaire
Good morning friends, I am super tired today after waiting for hours yesterday for a baby octopus to come out of a man-made sea shell home. The story goes, a small baby octopus made it’s way into the aquarium via our underground pipes that lead to the sea and then somehow managed to find his way into one of the small fish tanks. Well apparently the staff started noticing that a bunch of the small crabs and live snails were disappearing and for weeks couldn’t figure out what was going on. Finally, one morning while cleaning they spotted this little baby octopus who is only about two inches long hiding under a rock in one of the tanks. And get this, during the nights they discovered he would crawl out of his tank (leaving the water at times) and go hunt in other tanks but always returning to this one selected tank, that’s pretty darn smart! So yesterday I had an idea to set up a private tank in our deep water fish collecting room and place one shell inside on the sand and see if we could get a fun photo of him inside. At first he avoided the shell and seemed afraid of it and after three hours of waiting we finally left. We came back later in the afternoon and he was gone, he was now inside the shell with just one eye poking out, it was so cute and I did get that photo. I then waited for hours coming back and forth to see if he would show more of his little body but as of 5:00 he was still inside the shell and refused to come out. So I am hoping that this morning when I get there he will be active and ready for me to take his picture, stay tuned.
Here is an old photo from last year from a dive site in Bonaire called “The Evo”. This is our friend Jen Judge posing for me over one of the many monster size Elephant Ear Sponges you find here at this site. The site is located on Klein Bonaire at the tip of the island closest to Bonaire and it’s a great spot to see turtles and wild dolphins just to name a few.
Check this out today, it’s one of my photos that recently placed in the “Share the View” photo contest sponsored by the Audubon Society of Greater Denver. http://denveraudubon.contestvenue.com/
We did a fun mountain bike ride last night with Stijn, Arjan and a pro from Holland, it was only an hour but it sure was fun! Running late, have a wonderful day, Barry
Feb 28, 12 Comments Off on Goldentail eel, Gymnothorax miliaris, Moray Eels
Good morning folks, it’s 7:00am and we just got home from taking Emily to the airport, we sure are going to miss her! She arrived 10 days ago with a semi tan from a “fake-bake tanning booth” and left this morning looking like a golden goddess!! The boys here have been calling and fighting over her all week and the dolphin trainers have been great about taking her with them on countless exciting island trips, so all in all I think she had a pretty good time.
Here is a little Goldentail eel, Gymnothorax miliaris that I found the other day sticking his head out from a small hole on the reef. These moray eels can grow to about two feet in length and can be found just about anywhere in the five to fifty foot depth range on the reef. They spend their days like other eels just poking their heads out of a hole but with the rest of their bodies hidden waiting for nightfall. Eels constantly open and close their mouths which many divers see as a threat but it’s an action they do required for respiration and is not a threat of any kind. Morays have no pectoral or ventral fins. Their dorsal, tail and anal fins form a single, long continuous fin that begins behind the head, encircles the tail and extends midway down the belly. Their heavy, scaleless bodies are coated with a clear film of protective mucus.
For those of you out there wanting to help “Mother Earth” here is something easy you can do that could make a big difference. Right now the Australian government is deciding the fate of Australia’s Coral Sea. The government’s draft plan for this iconic area leaves the majority of species-rich coral reefs, important breeding sites for tuna and marlin, and critical migration routes for turtles and whales open to fishing. You can make a difference, tell the government to include these areas in a very large Coral Sea marine national park. Send a comment to Australia’s Environment Minister Tony Burke and help protect this natural wonder! To take action on this issue, click on the link below:
Have a wonderful day, Barry
Feb 26, 12 Comments Off on Bonaire Lionfish, Buddy Dive Resort, Lionfish Painting
Good evening readers, how was your weekend? I had a super crazy, fast paced Saturday but today was a bit calmer and more relaxed! Saturday started with a solo, fast hour and a half bike ride followed by taking the dogs and Emily to Saint Joris for an hour walk. I then raced home, because there is no speed limits here and dropped off the dogs and Emily and took off to work to pick up my diving gear. I then headed to the area up the coast where we are moving the endangered Elkhorn corals and joined a group of 20 other volunteers who had just exited the water from their second dive. After sitting out for about an hour we all took off back to the water and for all but me it was their third dive of the day. I had my big camera and did my best to photograph the group as they ever so carefully pried the corals up from their substrate resting place, attached multiple lift bags and on the count of three all swam these giant corals to their new homes further down the coast. This is being done because of a new big resort that will soon be starting construction here and they want to do their best to save the corals by moving them out of harms way. After the third dive all involved were completely wiped out and agreed that tomorrow was to be a rest day so next Saturday we will most likely do it all over again. Today, Sunday, Emily and I took the dogs to a brand new area up by Vaersenbaai and did a very scenic walk along the coast. We discovered a brand new little beach that is just big enough for two thus the name, “lovers beach”. On this beautiful walk I found many new areas to photograph and we also saw an amazing amount of flamingo’s feeding in the salt ponds, was really wishing I would have brought the camera. After getting back home I then spent a few hours collecting sea glass which was the best it has ever been because of these big waves rolling in this week, brought home around 20 pounds!
Here is a fun photo I took last year at Buddy Dive in Bonaire, it’s their version of a Lionfish. If you look close you can see a beautiful seahorse holding onto or tangled in the mane on top of his head, it’s really a cool painting!!
Sleep is calling, see you tomorrow, Barry
Feb 24, 12 Comments Off on Candy Basslet, Liopropoma carmabi, Colorful Reef Fish
Good morning friends, here is the hands down most beautiful fish Curacao has to offer, it’s called a Candy Basslet, Liopropoma carmabi and lives at a depth of about 225 feet! This is by far the most sought after aquarium fish in the World and will cost you around $500 to $1000 to own one. This is considered a Sea Bass in the Serranidae family and only grows to be about two inches in length! As you can see, these mini sea bass are boldly marked with stripes generally in shades of light brown to red-brown or yellow-brown alternating with red to maroon but stripes may be occasionally yellow to lavender or even blue as you see here!! They typically inhabit deep coral reefs and rubble slopes and are very reclusive and will remain hidden inside recesses until danger passes. Passengers in the new Curasub have the best chance of seeing one of these in their natural habitat without the dangers of deep-diving in scuba gear. I am always amazed that there are fish like this that live far below in the darkness and no diver will ever see them but yet they are so colorful!
I had another insane busy day yesterday with three sub dives and a photo shoot at 5:00 with two beautiful girls from Sweden. I will have to get permission from them to see if they will let me post a photo from last nights shoot here, so stay tuned.
I am running late again, another busy day/weekend ahead! Be well, Barry
Feb 23, 12 Comments Off on Coralliophila abbreviata, Elkhorn Coral Eating Snails
Good morning friends, I found these coral-eating-snails the other day attacking this Elkhorn Coral so I did what any concerned diver would/should do, I stopped to help. Elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata, was once the most abundant stony coral on shallow reef crests and fore-reefs of the Caribbean and Florida reef tract. In the Florida Keys, this fast-growing coral with its thick antler-like branches formed extensive habitat for fish and marine invertebrates. By the early 1990s, Elkhorn coral had experienced widespread losses throughout its range. A similar trend was seen in a close relative, staghorn coral, Acropora cervicornis. Multiple factors are thought to have contributed to coral declines, including impacts from hurricanes, coral disease, mass coral bleaching, climate change, coastal pollution, over-fishing, and damage from boaters and divers. In 2006, the two species were listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The recovery strategy, developed by NOAA Fisheries, included designating critical habitats in Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and called for further investigations into the factors that prevent natural recovery of the species. One of the main predators of Elkhorn coral include coral eating snails Coralliophila abbreviata, as seen here below. They tend to congregate in groups of 2-20 starting at the base of the coral eating their way to the top. These snails here were so embedded into the coral that I had to dig them out with a knife and once gone they left these terrible deep wounds which were completely white and open. I felt so bad for this coral that was under attack that I spent the whole dive removing every single one of them, I think I dug out at least 100! I then picked them up from the ground and swam them away from the corals and dropped them in the sand. Other predators such as the bearded fireworm and damselfish are also a main concern, both can do great damage to these endangered corals. Predation by these organisms reduces the corals growth and ability to reproduce. Predation can eventually lead to the death of the coral colony.
Our friend Arjan and Rixt arrived in Curacao yesterday after being gone for a few years, it was great to see them again! Arjan used to be my old riding buddy and you can bet we will be out tearing it up this week!
Aimee had a great Birthday, it started with a two hour hike along the coast with Emily and the dogs, then they went snorkeling, shopping and dinner at 7:00.
That’s about it, I have three dives again today with the sub and I was supposed to do a photo shoot with two Swedish girls in bikini’s but not sure if there will be time. See you soon, Barry
Feb 22, 12 Comments Off on Bogas, Boga’s, School of Fish, Large School of fish
Good morning visitors, today is Aimee’s Birthday and lucky her, she has the day off! Tonight we have reservations at a restaurant where you sit at a big table that has a big grill in the middle and you each cook your own food, should be a whole lot of fun! Last night Aimee was picked up by Rob and Michelle who took her and Emily to see the last day of Carnival which is celebrated at night. I can personally say I am glad it’s over, it has made driving around this island impossible these past few days and everything and I mean everything has been closed because of it! I am waking up very tired after three dives and a one hour mountain bike ride with Stijn, yesterday is such a blur! We still have our new little puppy here at the house who is the only other creature up with me at this hour. She is laying behind me chewing on a bone and just as content and as cute as can be, and yes she still needs a home!
Here is my school of Boga’s, Inermia vittata that still reside out in front of the Substation. I must honestly say that seeing this giant school of fish everyday and swimming with them is a big plus and many times I follow them for long periods of time. For those of you new to the site and you want more info on these fish or want to see other photos of them just type in Boga’s in my little search box, that should bring up a bunch more older blogs and photos.
It’s time to make the coffee, have a wonderful day, Barry
Feb 20, 12 Comments Off on Succinia gyrata, Caribbean Snails, Curacao Snails
Hi friends, I had the day off because of Carnival but Aimee had to work, just doesn’t seem fair does it?? So since Aimee had work, Emily and I loaded the dogs in the car at 7:00am and drove a few miles away to an area called Jan Theil. We ended up doing a pretty long walk and getting some trails cleaned up with a big push broom along the way. Why a push broom you ask?? It’s the only way to get the millions of tire-popping thorns off the trail that constantly fall from the trees above, it’s either sweep or stop and fix a flat tire every 10 minutes! After the walk, Emily went to the aquarium to spend the day with Aimee and our vet and I went diving again with Stijn and another friend. Our dive wasn’t so great as the waves were really churning up the sea and soon after entering we started noticing large amounts of jellyfish! It started with just one or two but within minutes the sea was full of them so we all agreed to get the heck out of the water immediately, no need to visit the hospital on such a beautiful day! So since the dive was cancelled we did the next best thing and went collecting sea-glass! Because of the high waves the glass collecting has been great this week and as usual Stijn was the winner with his reds and multi-colored green pieces. Stijn is pretty clever, the second we pull up he takes off and quickly walks the shoreline in front of me picking up the best of the best before I get there and heck I don’t care just as long as it’s found!!
Here is a new snail I found in our yard last month during all the rain, it’s called Succinia gyrata. Let me tell you, trying to find some information on this species is almost impossible, it may be a water snail and not a land snail but I couldn’t find that out for sure. The snail’s mouth is on the bottom of the head right up by the short tentacles. Inside the mouth is a specialized eating tool, the radula. The radula is a muscular structure covered by thousands of tiny, sharp teeth. The snail eats by pressing the radula against a leaf or other desirable bit of vegetation and rasping it to scrape away small particles. Most other interesting snail structures are hidden inside the shell, but some can be observed with patience and perhaps a flashlight. Snails breathe by taking air into a visceral cavity that is richly supplied with blood vessels, the snail’s version of a lung. When the snail extends from the shell, the access pore can be seen opening and closing just below the margin of the shell on one side. Also, the snail’s heart can be seen pumping blood by placing a snail on the lens of a flashlight and carefully looking through the translucent shell. The shell itself is an excellent piece of work. The colors and patterns are lovely, and the coil is a masterpiece of efficient construction. Snails grow by laying down new material around the edge of the roughly circular opening. By extending the length and diameter of the living quarters, the snail can grow and still retreat into its shell as needed. The shell is rich in calcium, so snails need a continual supply in their diet. Most of you already know I am turning into a snail freak, they are just so cool!
I smell hot fresh brownies, I’m outta here, Barry
Feb 20, 12 Comments Off on Mount Christoffel Park, Curacao, Caribbean Islands
Hi gang, another weekend has vanished into thin air and I have little to show for it! Saturday morning I went for a quick walk with Emily and the dogs and then we both took off to the Substation. Being that we had two paying customers riding up front and the back seats empty lucky Emily was asked if she wanted to go as well! She didn’t have to put much thought into that question and quickly signed a waiver and joined the others for the briefing. While she was doing that I got my scuba gear ready, loaded the camera and jumped into the sea. I always get out to my “photo shoot area” on the reef before the sub arrives that way I have plenty of time to chase fish and get the camera ready. As the sub made it’s way out to the reef I could see Emily from a distance staring out the back window waving, I just love having friends in the sub! After Photographing the guests in the big front window I motioned to the pilot that I was now headed to the back of the sub to take Emily’s photo. During this time the pilot usually does his or her best to just hold the sub in one place while I take the photos thru the back windows. For the pilots this can be a difficult time as they now have no idea where I am at! After taking Emily’s photos I then swim back to the front of the sub and give a big OK signal and with that they all wave good-bye! Emily and the guests had a wonderful time, I think they went close to 500 feet! Once she came back we then spent the rest of the day at the aquarium hanging out with Aimee and the dolphins. We got to watch a new training session with a Go-Pro camera and a suction cup. They were sticking the camera to the dolphins bodies and letting them swim around and film with it on, it was super cool, I will send a photo next week! That was Saturday, today we all went for another long dog walk first thing this morning and then I took off to dive with Stijn while Emily went for a day of fun in the sun with our friends. Stijn and I did 2 dives and we didn’t get home till 5:00, that’s more or less our day today!
Curacao is still getting rain and this is what our island looks like, a tropical jungle! All the poor cactus are covered in flowering vines of every kind, it may look pretty but it chokes the cactus that need sun to survive!
It’s past my bed time, see ya, Barry
Feb 18, 12 Comments Off on Island Dogs, Carribean Pets, Dog Beds, Curacao
Good morning friends, just a quick note to say our friend Emily arrived safe and sound and right on time last night! As Aimee and I headed out to pick her up last night we immediately ran into road-blocks everywhere as Carnival was in full swing and we had both forgot this was going on. When Carnival is going most of the main roads are closed that lead to the airport which means our trip last night was interesting to say the least. We ended up having to take all kinds of side streets and back roads and once I made a wrong turn and was headed directly into oncoming traffic! With zero options I had to drive the car up onto a median, over a side-walk and down to the right side of the road, I am sure everyone thought we were drunk! After parking we found out her plane had already arrived so we first looked around to see if she was waiting but quickly realized she was still inside and should be out any second. Aimee and I love watching people come off the plane, it’s pretty much non-stop entertainment. One mom came out with her kids wearing numbers on their shirts, I guess so she could keep track of them, next lady, very tall, super short mini-skirt, next one high heels and a mini-skirt, then a lady came out wearing what looked like a “babydoll nightgown”, and she had everyone’s attention! Aimee and I watched as she pushed her cart full of luggage out in this crazy outfit and half way out of the exit her friend spotted her and rushed to greet her screaming the whole way! They both dropped everything, blocking the others coming out and immediately embraced each other in nothing less than what I call a giant bear hug! Then, this is what threw me for a loop, one of the ladies reached behind her friend and started squeezing her butt and just like that the whole scene changed from :so glad to see you sister” to “lets get a room”!! While watching this soft porn entertainment we totally missed Emily who must have walked by during all the excitement and was now standing behind us and said “hi guys”! With a big hug we welcomed her back to the island and off we went!! We all laughed about what had just happened till it hurt and Emily told us more about this same lady and her adventures inside the airport, too funny. Once home we put her luggage in her room and of course Indi thought Emily had brought her a new dog bed and proceeded to claim it as her own, so much for bringing clean clothes, again too funny!!
Very busy day ahead, first Emily and I are taking the dogs for a walk then I have a dive with the sub then I have to help re-locate some corals, then a bike ride with Stijn!
Have a wonderful weekend all!! Barry
Feb 17, 12 Comments Off on Baby Lionfish, Juvenile Lionfish, Caribbean Lionfish
Good morning readers of the blog, it’s Friday!! The best part about this Friday is that our friend Emily will be here tonight from Michigan and will stay with us for the next 10 days! Little does she know yet that she has a little dog waiting for her and will be staying with her in her room at night, surprise, surprise, surprise. We finally got tired of constantly driving back and forth across town to feed this puppy so we did what any dog lover would do, we just brought her home. She kind of looks like Indi, is five months old and is as nice and playful as a dog can be, so please once again help us find a home for her. This morning at 7:30 she will go to the vet to be sterilized and at around noon today we will bring her sleepy-drugged self back here for her recovery.
It’s still raining in Curacao, going on four months now, could be some kind of new record. My bike is still down, the parts were sent to America but as of yesterday I found out that I won’t get them back until the 3rd of March, not good! Both Stijn and I will start the riding back up full time in March to make up for all this down time, even Stijn has taken a few weeks off but for him it’s good.
Here is another new find, this is a two-inch long juvenile Lionfish, hard to believe something so beautiful can cause so many problems. These fish are just taking over the oceans and there is nothing man can do about it. On any given dive here in Curacao you will see no less than 10 and recently a few local divers shot 50 on one dive, it was even in the papers here. This fish are non-stop eaters and prey on all the baby fish, so no baby fish, no big fish, funny how that works. I keep telling everyone, just try to keep the numbers down on your own reefs, that’s the best we all can do, if you need help, give me a call, I will dispatch “the Lionfish Hunter”.
Have to go, have a great day, Barry
Feb 15, 12 Comments Off on Juvenile/Baby Queen Angelfish, Holacanthus ciliaris
Hi friends, here is something super cool, this is a baby/juvenile Queen Angelfish, Holacanthus ciliaris with the hands down most unusual marking you will ever see on a Queen! The light blue squiggly lines on her back are “Mistakes of Mother Nature” or someone upstairs getting creative with the paint brush. These beautiful markings should be straight up and down as seen in this older blog of mine that I have pasted the link to below; http://www.coralreefphotos.com/juvenile-queen-angelfish-curacao/ They are known as Queen Angelfish because of a crown looking shape on its head. The Queen Angelfish is found in the Western Atlantic, ranging from Bermuda to Brazil and from Panama to the Windward Islands. They are most abundant throughout the Caribbean. They can be found from near-shore shallows down to the deepest portion of the reef (approximately 230 feet). The Queen Angelfish is very shy, is sometimes curious, and is usually found in pairs. Males are very territorial. Holocanthus ciliarus are very thin; they can turn quickly and can maneuver down into narrow cracks between the corals to hunt their prey. They swim by rowing with their pectoral fins. The juveniles are solitary and vigorously territorial. They set up cleaning stations along the reef within their territory. These are areas where larger fishes allow a smaller creature to remove any parasites from its body. A sort of truce among predators and prey prevails at the stations. The large fish remains motionless and allows the smaller Angelfish access to sensitive areas such as the gills. The juvenile Angelfish, in turn, trusts the larger fish not to eat it. In the wild Angelfish can live up to 15 years and much longer in captivity.
Along with this beauty I was fortunate enough to find and shoot other little fish today that your going to love as well, especially my baby Lionfish!
More to come, Barry
Feb 15, 12 Comments Off on Red Mangroves, Curacao Mangroves, Endangered
“Sorry the photo is so small, it’s a large Panoramic and would not fit on the page”.
Good morning readers, a few people have asked me for pictures of Saint Joris Bay where we always take the dogs, go mountain biking, shoot photos, collect driftwood, look for new snails, clean up trash or watch the wind surfers. The Bay itself is fed by the open ocean on our North coast. The mouth of this bay or the entrance is very wide allowing large amounts of water to continually circulate and since it’s part of the ocean it has the same low and hi tides and in-coming waves which in turn keeps the water clean and fresh. The bay itself is about a mile and a half to two miles wide at it’s widest part, it’s fairly small but looks bigger than it actually is. Almost the whole bay is surrounded by endangered Mangroves as you see here and for the most part it’s impossible to walk thru them or around them. I took this photo at low tide and was able to walk a long ways out into the water from shore and shoot this panoramic. Mangrove trees have a unique ability to grow in mud that lacks oxygen and to survive salt water tidal immersion. Aerial roots, sprouting up, down, and out, assist, in gas exchange during flooding. Mangrove roots take in sea-water and convert it to fresh water for the tree through a process called, “reverse osmosis”. Under the water the maze of complex roots as you see here is home to countless baby sea creatures and is commonly called “the Baby Nursery”. Young fish and creatures grow up here and then head out to sea to be part of the Caribbean Reef system or many adult fish mate here leaving the eggs attached to the roots, it’s a very big and important part of the Earths ecosystem.
Need to get to work, have a wonderful day, Barry
Feb 14, 12 Comments Off on Caribbean Reef Squids, Sepioteuthis sepioidea
Good morning friends, yesterday zoomed by so fast that as I sit here now it’s hard to recall everything I did! When I got to work I immediately started to get my underwater camera ready and find all the dive gear from Sundays dive with Stijn. At 11:00 I jumped in the water with my camera and met the sub out on the reef. The plan was for me to hold onto the top of the sub so we could go to another area down the reef to do a little photo shoot with the sub as we are in need of new promotional photos. As you can imagine holding onto a two -million dollar submarine while on scuba can be quite a thrill, actually it’s a blast! I had instructed them to just stay at 60 feet and go until I tell them to stop, I had already had a spot picked out with nice gorgonians and corals. The downside to this adventure turned out to be a strong current that was going the wrong way which was creating poor visibility conditions. As we approached the photo shoot area, I let go of the sub and pulled myself up the front of the sub and motioned for them to slow down, I then let go completely and swam to where I wanted to try the photo. Michiel, our sub pilot did his best to keep the sub positioned where I asked but in the end the current won. The two models in the front looked great but dirty water, overcast skies and fast moving current soon put an end to our fun and I eventually just said enough! I did get a few so-so shots but nothing that made me happy. As I waved good-by I saw a giant sting-ray swim under us and motioned for them to follow, I was going to swim back to shore and they were still going down to 600 feet or more to look for fish. My swim back was interesting to say the least, there is nothing more frustrating than having to swim back in high current, you can kick as hard as you like but you just stay in one spot. I ended up having to hold my camera in one hand and pull myself back using rocks and dead coral heads along the way, that worked pretty good but boy was I tired when I got back to shore. Once out I had to leave everything along the rocks and walk back to Substation to get a cart to haul it all back with, and that ended up taking close to an hour. The rest of the day was filled with running around trying to get needed model releases for pictures I have taken of most everyone that works around here over the years. Now a days if I photograph you doing anything we need a model release form that says it’s alright if we use your cute little faces for advertising, so if I have taken your photo in the past and you didn’t sign a form please let me know and I will get one to you.
A friend from Holland sent me an old link yesterday that I thought was gone forever. This is the advertising/promotional video for the 2006 World Cup Mountain bike race that I was in. Here is the link; www.mtbworldcupcuracao.com When the site opens, find and click on impression on the left side of the menu, this will activate and start the video, I believe you need Flash Player 8 to view it. World Champion Bart Brentjens is doing the narrating and is the rider up front, I am always in the back (trying to keep up) wearing my blue sleeveless jersey. We made this video months before the big race to give all the riders that would be coming a little taste of what the course will be like. It was an honor to be asked to be in the film and getting to ride with one of the best mountain bikers of our time.
Here is another baby squid photo I shot under the Substation platform the other day. The colors in the background are him zooming under our floating platform and boat, I think the reds are from the big red nylon lines that hold the platform in the water. My five pet Caribbean Reef Squids, Sepioteuthis sepioidea are still doing great but getting bigger and bigger by the day! I am guessing soon they will be big enough to head out to life on the open reef, I will miss them when they go!
Happy Valentines all, my mom sent a nice e-card which was a great way to start the day! See you soon, Barry
Feb 13, 12 Comments Off on Reef Urchin, Echinometra viridis, Sea Urchins
Good morning friends, I am again sitting here at 5:30am wondering where my precious weekend went?? Saturday I spent most the day working on our coral-relocating project up the coast but that came to an abrupt halt because of two of my colleges getting stung by Man-O-War jellyfish and having to go straight to the hospital. This happened right as we were entering the water for a second dive, the small but deadly Portuguese Man-O-War was just floating at the surface and no one saw it and once it touches you, it’s all over! All involved are fine now but they will be very sore and swollen for a few days. On Sunday, yesterday Stijn showed up early and we took off for a long dog walk early in the morning but incoming rain soon put an end to that fun! We then raced home, washed the dogs and took off the Substation to get our dive gear. We then attempted to do a “Lionfish removal dive” in front of the Sea Aquarium but in the end only shot five and missed around ten, we will try again! After that cold water adventure and exiting in the rain we took off back home and then made a quick stop at a little grocery store for lunch. I told Stijn, “get whatever you want for lunch and meet me back here in 5 minutes” This is a little store that makes fresh bread and cookies all day long and has a tiny deli in the back and has just about anything a person could want to eat. So I grab my bag of hot, steaming fresh, out of the oven bread rolls, some cheese and turkey, a bag of chips and a drink and go to find Stijn. So I’m in line and Stijn shows up with nothing but a package of Raman Noodles and says to me, “have you had these, you just add water”!! I just started laughing, I didn’t even have a comment for him, he is so funny some times! Have I ever had Raman Noodles?? And yes, that was his lunch!
Here is a new find from last week, this is a small, one inch Reef Urchin, Echinometra viridis and he was out crawling around on this small sponge. These urchins are so beautiful but usually very hard to find as they tend to spend their days hiding under rocks and only come out at night, this one must have been coming home from a late night party. I know it’s hard to see but the points of the spines have violet to dark brown tips, a greenish shaft and a white ring around every base, the body itself is usually reddish to maroon.
Running late, have yourself a wonderful day out there and do something to help your fellow man!
See you soon, Barry