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 August, 2012
Aug 31, 12 Comments Off on Lettuce Sea Slug, Elysia crispata, Opisthobranchia
Good morning, it’s Friday!! We have had a very busy week here at the Substation and today will be no different. Yesterday I did three dives and then at 5:30 met Stijn and my new rider for an hour and a half fast paced ride thru the wilds of Curacao, it was great! This was the first ride I have done with Stijn since we have been back from the USA and let me tell you he has gotten even faster!! He will be helping me tomorrow and Sunday working on the new mountain bike trail which is currently underway. Last night as we all rode by the area I said; “let’s go try the new trail” so we carried our bikes a short way and then did the first test ride ever on the new trail, it’s bound to be a big hit as it rolls so nice! I’m keeping the entrance closed and hidden until the it’s all finished, don’t need the constant interuptions while we are working.
We are getting some on and off rain and it is so wonderful!! I have noticed that even the desert has greened up a bit which means we need to get this trail done fast before the big rains come or we will be in trouble!
Your photo this morning is of a sexy little Lettuce Sea Slug, Elysia crispata that Aimee found a few days ago on our Pipefish dive. These little Mollusks are very common here but I must say to find a blue one is quite difficult, normally they are green and white or white with green and red tints. These are most commonly found in the shallows but occasionly we see them deeper blending in with the reef. I have noticed that many of the blue or purple one’s are usually found on or around corals so maybe this has something to do with the coloration?? Any ways they are super fun to watch and always a joy to see on any given dive.
Thats about it folks, I need to get out underwater! Have a wonderful day!!
Aug 30, 12 Comments Off on Whitenose Pipefish, Cosmocampus albirostris, Seahorse
Good morning from the Caribbean!! Here is our newest find, this is a beautiful five inch long Whitenose Pipefish, Cosmocampus albirostris. I found this cool creature three days ago while out shooting the sub, he was just laying in the sand right below me and I could hardly wait to get in for a closer look!! When I saw him from above I knew instantly what it was but figured the second I got closer he would take off and hide in the reef but this was not the case. These creatures are experts at camouflage and if you didn’t know what you were looking at you would think it’s just an old stick or something organic. These animals are most common in areas of grass and algae where they stay just above the bottom, swimming under and through tangles of vegetation and debris but like here they can also be found on shallow patch reefs. These Pipefish are also in the family of Seahorse’s just look at the close-up photo of the face, they almost look the same and eat the same foods. The major difference other than the straight body is the super cool fan that is attached to the tail, they use that not only for camouflage but also as a fin and can swim very fast if danger is present unlike the Seahorse. Aimee helped with this photo yesterday. She came over at 1:00 and carried the macro camera down and I took out the wide-angle camera, we first did a submarine shoot and after we played with the pipefish. The only other one of these I have ever seen was at 1000 steps in Bonaire and that one was scared of it’s own shadow and it dissapered deep into the reef never to be seen by us again.
Yesterday was crazy busy, we did two sub dives and then I spent the afternoon doing photos in the cold water lab, I went home wiped out!!
Today we have two more sub dives and I have to meet Stijn for a bike ride at 5:30, it will again be a fast paced day.
Have a wonderful day all, be back soon, Barry
Aug 29, 12 Comments Off on Honeycomb Cowfish, Acanthostracion polygonia
Hi gang, a few days ago when I was last out on the reef I came across this cool Honeycomb Cowfish, Acanthostracion polygonia but only had my macro lens. This seems to be an ongoing problem that I never have the lens I need for the photo at hand, it’s a great case of “Murphy’s Law”!! So you do what you can with what you have which brings us to your photo of the day. We have a few of these or a pair out on the Substation reef and every time I am out I see them or they do a “swim-by” to see what I am up to. They are a bit curious but tend to keep their distance and if you want to photograph one you will need to follow them very slowly and be prepared to waste a whole lot of time!! These fish are often called Boxfishes or odd-shaped swimmers and we have never seen a juvenile, that’s one of my “Holy Grail” photos still to be found. These fish also can change colors in a heartbeat from boring browns and greens to electric blue, purples and flouresent greens, what an amazing fish!!
I started training a new student last night and the ride went very well. He is younger than Stijn but has great potential. He is also a little brother of sorts to Frank and Andy Schleck and was completely decked out in cycling wear that the boys set him up in, he looked great!!
Today we have two sub dives and I need to be underwater in less than an hour so I better
Aug 28, 12 Comments Off on Sea Worms, Night Diving, Animals Attracted to Light
Good morning friends, we had a tiny amount of rain this morning but enough that we had to drive to work. The funny thing is, you can drive a mile away and it will be dry as a bone, these storms that pass only seem to water parts of the island at one time. We are all still watching tropical storm Isaac but it looks like it won’t be as strong as predicted, so thank goodness for that!!
Your photo today is of a weird little worm that we found on our last night dive. Actually this worm and hundreds of thousands of others found us as they are VERY attracted to lights!!!! On most night dives we get bombarded by these tiny swimming creatures which can make taking a photo very hard at times as there are so many of them! I typically have to turn out my lights and let them swim away then turn them back on quickly and take the photo, it only takes seconds for them to return. As we watched this one landed on the sand and then immediately crawled under the sand to safety and in a blink of an eye he was gone.
That’s about it, I need to get to the sea. Have a wonderful day, Barry
Aug 27, 12 Comments Off on Cleaning Station, Princess Parrotfish, Wrasses
Good morning Amigo’s how was your weekend?? Mine was again fairly quiet, about the only real activity I did was to work on my new mountain bike trail for two hours each day. The trail itself is coming along very nice but is super slow work mostly because of how thick the desert is with bushy weeds!! The dogs keep busy chasing lizards but so far have never caught one and I make sure to get them home by 10:00 as it is way to hot to be out!!
On Saturday because of these weird big waves we had the glass beach was the best it had ever been and after just an hour and a half I brought home 20 pounds of beautiful glass treasures!!
We had a terrible OIL SPILL here on Curacao on Saturday over by Porto Mari, here is the only link I could find and will keep you posted as I learn more. www.facebook.com/helpcuracao It of course it goes without saying that there will be a massive impact on the ecosystem and the poor flamingos are caught right in the middle of it!! I just want to cry!
Your photo this morning is from my dive last week out in front of the Substation. As I was coming up from my dive I noticed a large number of Juvenile Bluehead Wrasse (little yellow fish) congregated at about 30 feet. I decided to stop and wait and just see if my hunch about these fish would pan-out and sure enough it did! These are cleaner fish and if you have time find a spot to lay low with your camera ready and just wait! What I find happens is that the fish get used to you being there and once they sense you are not there to eat them they will go about their business. So as I watched this beautiful intermediate Princess Parrotfish swam in and completely stopped and rested on the bottom and almost instantly all the little Blueheads rushed over and started to clean him, it was so cool to watch!! I was only able to get this one shot as the flash scared everyone away but they soon all returned to business as usual and eventuly got used to the flash as well. Cleaner fish play a very important role in the health of Caribbean fish and creatures and without them we would have a very sick reef!!
That’s about it, it’s hot and there is no rain in sight. Have a great Monday,
Aug 24, 12 Comments Off on Heart Urchin Pea Crab, Red Heart Sea Urchin
Good morning friends, just a quick note to say HI and all is well. Many have asked me about tropical storm Isac that is currently headed towards Florida and if it had any effect on us?? No it really did not. We had two days of no wind and yesterday the wind switched direction with weird waves but that was it, not one drop of rain! For the most part these ABC islands stay out of harms way, all storms start down here but never really do much.
You photo above is of a tiny quarter inch Heart Urchin Pea Crab that we found living on the underside of a big Red Heart Sea Urchin on our dive Wednesday night. These crabs spend their whole lives living in association with the urchins and live completely buried under the sand for most of their lives. Aimee was a big help with this photo and helped to keep the crab visible long enough for me to get a shot, otherwise it is hidden under the spines and almost impossible to see.
I am off to check on my sea urchin at 140 feet, have a wonderful day friends!!
Aug 23, 12 Comments Off on Deep Water Crab, Deep Sea Hermit Crabs
Good morning all, I have to be underwater in 30 minutes so I will be back later. Ok, it’s later, sorry about that, now I can fill you in on “our daily life in Curacao”. So last night Aimee and I took off on a fun night dive here at the Sea Aquarium. Our goal for the evening was to find some big Heart Urchins and find and photograph these tiny white crabs that are associated with and live on these urchins. Once we found an urchin we gently pulled it out of the sand (where they live) flipped it over and located the tiny white crabs. I then got into position with the camera and Aimee gently lifted a crab out of it’s spiny hiding spot with a little pointed object that we brought and I quickly shot away! The crabs normally bury themselves under the urchins spines so shooting them is quite the trick, I will send a photo tomorrow with more info. The evening turned out great and we did find what we were looking for along with lots of other cool tiny things.
Above is a yet another super beautiful deep water hermit crab that was found hundreds of feet out on the reef with the new Curasub. This species of crab has the hands down most beautiful blue eyes combined with a sexy orange body, they are such fun to watch!! This is one that was collected by the Smithsonian and then I took it back to the sea yesterday for this fun photo shoot!
The sub just got back, I have to go, be back later again, Barry
Aug 22, 12 Comments Off on Mockingbird, Called Chuchubi in Papiamentu, Curacao
Good afternoon all, sorry so late but I have been at work since 5:00 am!! My plan was to get in early and put some of the deep water crabs into buckets and start acclimating them back to the outside temperature, this takes hours to do! Then at around 9:00 once their water temperature was close to that of the oceans I jumped in and took them down to 140 feet and did some photos of them in their natural settings and after said good-bye to them and left them there. At that depth I was only down there for around 8 minutes but was plenty of time to take care of business. That was my first dive in a nutshell. The second was only down to 55 feet and again I had four new hermit crabs from the deep that needed to be photographed but two of them said “no way” and never came out of their shells. Talk about frustrating??? So I shot what I could which I will send you tomorrow and took the rest back up to the surface to try again later or tonight as Aimee and I are doing a night-dive at 6:30. As you can see it’s been a real busy morning but super fun and the ocean is very clear and beautiful today!
Here is a funny picture I took at the Substation last week of an angry Mockingbird. The Mockingbird, called Chuchubi in Papiamentu, resembles the North American Mockingbird, with a long white-gray tail and a gray back. These birds are very aggressive and eat just about anything thing that moves! I always tell folks that Birders will not be disappointed by the dozens of species of hummingbirds, bananaquits, orioles, and the larger terns, herons, egrets, and even flamingos that make their homes near ponds or in coastal areas. The trupial, a black bird with a bright orange underbelly and white swatches on its wings, is common to the island and to Curacao. Near the shore, note the big-billed brown pelicans that dive, straight down like dead weight, into the ocean after fish. Other seabirds include several types of gulls and large cormorants…
Need to get ready for the third dive, see you tomorrow, Barry
Aug 21, 12 Comments Off on Snorkeling with Dolphins, Diving with Baby Dolphins
Good morning land dwellers! You all know how it goes, if there is a dolphin photo I usually ask Aimee to write the blog so here she is. Here is a fun photo from the world underwater. This is me, in my own little personal heaven. Yup folks, heaven on earth is swimming with your best friend and her baby. They just both happen to be dolphins! This is a fun photo from this week. Barry took some time on his day off to jump into the water with me and and Ritina and Alita. I have been working with Ritina for many years and this is her baby girl Alita.If you remember, Alita was born on March 12. Well, now you can see that baby dolphins grow quite fast! It is really getting to be a fun time with the babies (we have three right now, Machu and Serena as well). They are so curious and wanting to interact with people. The only thing that limits them a bit is an overprotective momma. Ritina is an amazing mom, especially for a first time mom, but she can be pretty protective. What really helps a lot is she has two great examples of being calm and relaxed because she is in the same area as Tela and Annie. It also makes a huge difference that Ritina and I are quite bonded. I never push her out of her comfort zone with the baby. I simply reward her for letting me interact with Alita. And, they both think that is pretty fun! We play with sea weed and sponges and Alita thinks it is pretty fun now to be touched and rubbed down and will get right in your face, occassionally coming up and bumping into your mask! It is so much fun to see them grow and change. What a life experience. The babies are quite independent and if mom is busy will race off and chase each other and play all sorts of crazy games. They are so very much fun to watch. So, there is it, I am blessed to be able to do what I love. I know not many people in this world are. I never take it for granted and soak it up at each and every opportunity. And, I sure do love dolphins.
Barry here again, last night after work Aimee and I took the dogs to the new trail I am building and planted around 200 baby Agave plants. Eight years ago Aimee planted a century plant near the Sea Aquarium and it fell over a month ago but has thousands of babies still connected to it. So what we do is take one branch at a time and re-plant the babies everywhere in hopes that some or all will grow. We had a blast planting them last night now all we need is a little rain or I will go water them by hand.
Well, we have a dive at 9:15 with the sub and another at 11:15 so I need to get a moving. Have a wonderful day.
Aug 20, 12 Comments Off on Sea Shell with Soft Spines, Live, Exotic Shells
Good morning friends, how was your weekend?? Did you get out and enjoy the World around you or just stay home and work on “the o’l Honey DO List”??? Mine was a little of both and both days started out with working on my new mountain bike/hiking trail in Jan Thiel. I spent the mornings swinging a pick cutting in the new trail as it climbs to the top of a hill, if I didn’t do that no one would be able to climb it. Stijn spent the weekend racing again and honestly I haven’t seen him or ridden with him since we have been back, he is very busy with road racing. Other than the trail work and a quick swim with the baby dolphins on Saturday I didn’t do that much this weekend again but did finally get in a nice ride last night and got home at dark.
Here is another cool find from last week, this is a deep water snail with soft spines on it’s shell. Yes you read that right the spines are soft and seem to be alive, it’s ultra cool!! The animal uses it’s soft foot to just crawl through the sand and filter out food, look closely and you can see it’s two little black eyes. I turned his shell on the side on purpose so he would come out and you could see him, otherwise he is always hidden and the only thing you can see are his eyes. This is actually a Distorsio sp., a species of snail related to the tritons (Cymatium). Fresh snails have a periostracum, which is a bristly covering on the normally white shell. The periostracum is removable with bleach, or flakes off when dried. The distorsio is not bristly itself, but has a contorted shape
We have a dive with customers in a few minutes so I need to go, you can still go to www.seesubmarine.com to watch us all out on the reef in action but remember we are 3 hours ahead of South Dakota time.
Have a great day, Barry
Aug 17, 12 Comments Off on Deep Sea Crabs, Strange New Hermit Crabs
Good morning friends, it’s FRIDAY!! Yesterday was again filled with diving and photographing new creatures and was officially the last day for the Smithsonian. This morning all the scientists are outside packing up their finds and gear and getting it all ready for FED-EX to pick it up. During the year the Smithsonian and other organizations ship a lot of equipment down here so they have it once they arrive and some of it even stays until their next trip. A few were asking me about the last two photos, did I shoot those photos at 800 feet in the sub or were they brought to the surface?? Almost everything gets brought to me at the surface, it’s almost impossible to get a good shot out the dome of the sub, it’s either too dark or the sub and or fish is moving. How do they get these larger fish to the surface?? We have a large vacuum on the front of the sub that sucks them up and places them in a big holding tank with lots of little temporary homes for them to rest or hide in on their way up to the surface. Some fish, not eels have to be brought up slowly over a weeks time as they need to adjust to the temperature and pressure. During their assent to the surface they are fed every day by divers who inject little shrimps into their holding tank and this seems to work pretty well. Once at the surface they are then rushed to our cold deep water labs and stay here while they are being studied, cool huh?? The photo today is a new, hairy deep water hermit crab that was found at around 850 feet!! Talk about a face only a mother could love!!??
That’s it, I need to get to the water, my gills are drying out!!
Have a wonderful weekend, Barry
Aug 16, 12 Comments Off on Deep Water Green Moray Eel, Morey Eels
Good afternoon guys, better late than never right?? Aimee and I took off at 7:00 this morning with the dogs and went to do an hours worth of trail work on the new trail. Now is the time to do trail work here as it is about as dry as it will get, once the rains start again we will be unable to continue again until next summer. Aimee was quite the trooper this morning with taking my cut material and dragging it all to a “natural dump site”, I hate throwing my cutting everywhere along the trail. By the time we left we both were completely soaked from the humidity and the dogs were ready to go home and it was only 9:00 in the morning!
Once we got home I raced into work and got our dive gear ready and off we went to help the Smithsonian scientists. The goal of the morning was to take out three scientific experiments (in the shape of a milk crate) to the reef and leave them there for a year. They want to see what kind of creatures will settle here or move in and then after a year they will be collected and studied, I will send a photo soon and explain this to you better.
Your photo above is yet another cool creature from the deep. This is beautiful, NEW deep water green moray eel that was found at around 800 feet on yesterdays dive into the darkness. Once I learn more about these cool finds I will update these pages so again be patient as more is on the way!
Busy day ahead, hope all is well, Barry
Aug 15, 12 Comments Off on Hermit Crabs, Colorful Hermit Crabs, Deep Water
Good morning boys and girls, how is everyone doing today?? I am still running around from the sub to the deep water labs TRYING my best to get everything the scientists find photographed, not an easy task! Usually by the time I finish with one group of creatures and fish the sub returns from another 5 hour trip at 1000 feet and they have a whole new assortment of goodies for me. Mind you I am not complaining, I’m just telling you why so you understand when the blogs are posted late. Yesterday they brought up a sea shell with the original animal inside and it’s shell is covered in soft spines, wait till you see this thing, it’s super cool! I also just finished shooting a new weird eel that came from 700 feet and will get that to you as well as soon as I can find time. This beautiful hermit crab above was found Monday at around 600 in one of the most beautiful, discarded Murex shells we had ever seen!! The Murex must have recently been eaten by something and this lucky crab was the first to find the shell, it’s down right spectacular, I will send a photo of him in the whole shell as well.
Not much else to write about, all is fairly quiet around the island lately. Hope you all are doing well, miss hearing from many of you.
Till tomorrow, Barry
Aug 14, 12 Comments Off on Deep Water Fish, Deep Water Scorpionfish
Good morning from the Caribbean. The search for new and unusual creatures and fish continues again today at 10:00 with the sub going down to 1000 feet!! The Smithsonian group has been working non-stop around the clock to find and document as many new species as possible, you will be amazed at what has been found. Here is a link to the Smithsonian’s “Ocean Portal” page that has one of the coolest things they found so far, just click on this and check it out, http://ocean.si.edu/ocean-photos/sea-toad-specimen-caribbean I spent a good part of yesterday again sitting in the cold, deep water lab shooting never or rarely seen specimens and here is one of them. This is the largest scorpionfish we have found to date at 600 feet, he or she was close to 10 inches in length!! Usually the scorpionfish we find are all small about two to three inches in length and those are adults so this could again be a new species?? Remember I said, “could be” so please don’t quote anything you read here until I say it’s confirmed information from the scientists. This poisonous scorpionfish is down-right beautiful and has all kinds of weird stuff hanging off of him, he’s for sure a look but don’t touch kind of fish!!
That’s about it for today, I have to get myself underwater and go check on my artificial reef and see how things are setteling.
Aug 13, 12 Comments Off on Savoy, Spearfish Canyon Waterfalls, Summer
Good morning friends, I’m back!! How is your summer treating you?? If your like us we have been sitting in front of the television a whole lot watching the Olympics and like us not getting much done while they are on. I’m amazed at just how many events there are and how few of them one is able to see in a day, I need four t.v.’s going all at the same time!!
A BIG THANKS to our friend Michael for donating a new PC to us as our old one died two weeks ago and is now sitting at 104 feet beneath the sea!! Him and his wife delivered it to us a few nights ago and after a few minutes of plugging wires in it was up and running with no problems at all, again it’s great to have friends!!
My weekend was fairly quiet. On Saturday and Sunday I bit the bullet and started working on my newest mountain bike trail again that I started six months ago but gave up. It will be a continuation of the Calabash trail but will take months to complete! If your wanting to help please let me know there is a lot to do!
A BIG Congrats goes out to Stijn for winning his big road race yesterday, he kicked their butts! I was watching him from a distance and knew immediately he was having a good day as he was the first through with a police escort and then minutes later the rest of the pack came through, go Speed-Racer!! With this win he will now be representing Curacao in the Caribbean Championships which are to be held in Santa Domingo.
Here is a fun waterfall we enjoyed while in South Dakota, this one is a five minute walk from Savoy in beautiful Spearfish Canyon. Although South Dakota is in a drought Spearfish Canyon and it’s waterfalls are still running and looking pretty good. For those of you who don’t know, this is the place you want to be in the fall, it’s one of the prettiest canyons in the Hills and a must do if your in the area.
That’s about it, have a great monday!!