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 September, 2012
Sep 28, 12 Comments Off on Tarpon, Megalops atlanticus, Elopidae, Large Fish
Good morning readers, sorry but I am off to a late start!! I woke up pretty wiped out after my hour and a half sprint with the hands down fastest 12 year old in the Caribbean, this kid can ride and has no fear at all just like Stijn!! When I first started riding with him a month ago he was unable to climb or go down most of our technical sections but now he is cleaning everything! I am finding out that his climbing skills are unreal, and he is skinny as a rail, talk about a mini version of Andy Schleck! We are currently training Tuesday and Thursday but I can see that if I am going to keep my edge I will need to start riding weekends again!
Here is one of local “Big fish” we have here on the reef called a Tarpon or Megalops atlanticus. These are big fish and can reach a size of eight feet in length!!!! Yikes! On many night dives these fish will swim right up to you and use your light to hunt with, talk about a creepy feeling! These are without a doubt one of the most unafraid fish in general I have ever seen, most likely because of their size!
Sorry so short but not much else going on today, the rains are gone and the sun is back!!
Have a fantastic weekend and that’s an order!!
Sep 27, 12 Comments Off on Juvenile Damselfish, Juvenile Longfin Damselfish
Good morning Amigo’s, how’s it going?? Our rain has quit and the skies are clear again, it was fun while it lasted! Stijn met me last night after work on my new trail and we got another hours worth of work done. I am thinking or guessing that we are now close to or about half way, so there is light at the end of the tunnel. Aimee is out there now as well with the dogs doing a bunch of odd clean-up jobs alongside the trail, we want to make it look like it was always there.
Here is a juvenile Longfin Damselfish, Stegastes diencaeus that I found living under our Substation platform. These little fish are very aggressive and territorial even to divers and will bravely swim up to you and bite you in an effort to make you leave! Like many Caribbean reef fish, this juvenile will loose these beautiful colors and turn an ugly dark brown to black color as they get older. This one here is only about three inches in length and spends his days chasing off other fish and divers who pass by his little home.
I was in the deep-water lab again yesterday photographing two baby Spanish Flags (deep water fish) hiding inside an old broken slit shell, I will send the photo soon, it’s pretty cool.
That’s about it, we have two sub today, one at 11:15 and one at 1:15 then I have to meat Stijn and Dorian for a mountain bike ride at 5:00!!
Have a great day, Barry
Sep 26, 12 Comments Off on Bonaire Iguana’s, Captain Dons, Reptiles from Bonaire
Good morning from overcast Curacao! We are in our second day of stormy weather and still loving it. It’s amazing how fast plants can bounce back after just one hard rain, it’s great! Even our hundreds of little Agave plants that we planted out along the new trail finally got some needed water and should be able to go for awhile now on their own.
Here is my newest Iguana that I found at “Captain Dons Habitat” on Friday while in Bonaire. http://www.habitatbonaire.com What I loved about this shot was that the wall he was sitting on is almost the exact same color as the ocean below him, it made for a great backdrop!! Most of the resorts in Bonaire allow the Iguana’s to roam freely around the property, it’s a crowd pleaser for sure and is great for business! This guy here was sitting on the wall with his buddies right in the outdoor feeding court. Here you can eat breakfast, lunch or dinner and have iguana’s walking at your feet, this alone would be reason to visit Bonaire! I was told that as it heats up in the afternoon many of the Iguana’s take off to find shelter so mornings are your best chance at getting a nice shot.
Well, lots to do as always, have a wonderful day!
See you tomorrow, Barry
Sep 25, 12 Comments Off on The Curasub, Substation Curacao, Mini Submarines
Good morning from WET CURACAO!!!! Yes, you read that right, it’s finally raining!! We woke up at around 2:45am to the sound of rain-drops hitting the bedroom window and immediately jumped out of bed and went outside to see if this was a dream or if it was for real!! Our island like so many places around the World needed this very badly and just last night we were again outside desperately trying to save our thirsty plants. We ended up staying up for around 30 minutes just watching it pour and listening to all the excited little frogs, it was a gift from God!! The downside to all the rain was that it made one of our giant flower trees in the backyard fall over but after an hour of trimming this morning we pushed it back up and it should be alright now!!
For all of you out there asking about our mini-sub which we call “The Curasub” I put together this chart just for you!! Actually, my co-worker Tico was a major part of making this photo happen as he pushed the sub all the way out to the edge of the property yesterday just for me so I could have a clean background to work with! My weekly questions usually are, “how deep will it go”, ” how long can you stay there”, “how many people will it hold”, “how fast can it go” and my personal favorite, “is there a restroom on board”?? No restroom folks, but we do have a nice pee-bag and a throw-up bag if nessasary and yes, both have already been used!! The Curasub can safely explore at depths of 1000 feet and can stay out on a single charge for over 8 hours! The sub holds 5 people including the pilot who sits in the middle and can reach speeds of up to 3 nautical miles per hour!! The sub also has many safety percausions built into it and contains enough food and water for 5 days! As of today we have done 730 dives, more than any other sub of it’s type, that alone is a remarkable fact!! The cost is $650 per person, the price includes an underwater photo shoot by yours truly, all photos on a Substation flash drive, T-shirt and an hour and a half underwater on the coolest ride you will ever take!! Here is the website for more info, www.substation-curacao.com
I just got out of the water from my first dive and I have to go again in 30 minutes!! Have a wonderful day!!
Sep 24, 12 Comments Off on Queen Conch, Strombus gigas, The Last Queen Conch
Good morning friends, what a crazy weekend!! I left for Bonaire at 7:00am Friday morning and spent the whole day with my buddies from Ikelite, it was GREAT!! We first went out to the North side of Lac Cai Bay and there we were quickly reminded why the Queen Conch is on the endangered list!! Here you will find mountains of old discarded Queen Conchs that have been harvested almost to the brink of extintion! In Bonaire and Curacao they are supposed to be protected but we saw evidence that they are still catching and selling them on a daily basis. In the top photo is a newly caught Queen Conch that was recently discarded and in the bottom photo if you look closely you will see dozens of fresh kills mixed in the old pile, look for the yellow shells. I found some interesting facts below from the US Fish and wildlife site, here is the link; http://www.fws.gov/international/dma_dsa/cites/animals/conch_facts.html
Our next stop was at a wonderful resort called SOROBON located on the South side of Lac Cai. http://www.sorobonbeachresort.com/en/ This is the hands down most beautiful place to stay in Bonaire and has some of the best food on the island second only to Cactus Blue in downtown Bonaire! Here we all sat on the beach and had a wonderful lunch and just watched the waves and listened to the birds, if you want relaxation this is where you need to be! After lunch I did a quick photo shoot with everyone in the group posing them on this long fantastic pier that takes you quite far out into the bay.
We then loaded up and took off back into town and went in search of caves that I had been to a few years back while on my assignment from Sport Diver. The first cave I found easily but we needed a rope to get in so off we went to find the next one. The next one is really cool and has a ladder that you climb down and once at the bottom you can explore till your hearts content. These caves are still very active and most of the Stalagtights are still dripping water and slowly forming new Stalagmights, it’s such a cool place to explore. The downside is how HOT it is inside so if you go bring extra clothes or carry a hand towel and please watch were you walk and remeber to never touch anything in a cave.
That was about it for my day in Bonaire, I was delivered back out the airport at 6:00 and by 7:00 I was back in the air for my 14 minute flight back to Curacao!
The rest of my weekend was filled with trail building and beach glass collecting.
Have a great day!!
Sep 20, 12 Comments Off on Pylopagurus discoidalis, Hermit Crabs in Tusk Shells
Hi all, what a crazy morning I have had already to say the least!! I was helping Aimee get the bikes ready this morning for a ride along the North coast with a friend and made a major mistake! Because I was in a hurry and not paying attention I accidently put two-part epoxy on one of the bike chains instead of the needed chain oil! The crazy thing is that both bottles are the same size, shape and the contents are both clear, talk about a mess!! I franticly tried to remove the glue from the chain with every solvent I could find around the house but nothing worked so I had to rush to work to get something stronger! Once back home I started the whole clean-up process all over again!! In the end I removed most of it but I am sure as I type that the bike is picking up dirt left and right, I will most likely have to clean it all over again once they are back!
Here are two more cute little crabs for my deep-water crab lovers, these are called Pylopagurus discoidalis, or as I call them, Hermit Crabs in Tusk Shells. The crab on the left is a baby living in a large tusk shell, you can see it’s way too big for him but he doesn’t seem to mind. The crab on the right is an adult version of the one on the left but you would never know this as he is completly hidden inside leaving just his large claw as his iron clad type door. Also the crab on the right, the older one, is a rich reddish-orange color where the younger one is still a light colored orange.
Just got up from one dive and am off to do another, sorry so short!!
Remember I will be in Bonaire all day tomorrow, not sure if I will get the blog out or not but will make it up to you!!
See you soon, Barry
Sep 19, 12 Comments Off on Deep Water Crabs, Hermit Crabs, Latirus infundibulum
Good morning friends, I am starting out with a very busy week and struggling to get it all done!! Yesterday I did two fun dives with the sub in the morning and then did a two hour bike in the evening with my new 12 year old student Dorian. Last night we did something different and rode out to saint Joris bay and rode the trails I built there about a year and a half ago and I must say they are looking great! The trails out there are really getting used and have been part of many races, glad to see they are so loved! Aimee is out there now as I type walking the dogs and watering some of her newly planted Agave plants.
Here is a new hermit crab that was founds hundreds of feet below the surface by our new Curasub. This is the first time we have ever seen a shell like this here in Curacao so we now know if the crab found an empty one there must be live ones as well down there somewhere?? Thanks to one of our readers for identififing the shell for us, it’s called a Latirus infundibulum, say that 10 times real fast!!. These crabs are just so beautiful, I call them “blue eyed Beauties”!! After he was brought up I took him back out the reef for this photo shoot, that way he could enjoy some algae while getting his picture taken at the same time.
Not much else to report, our two baby turtles are doing great at home although they spend most of the day sleeping or hiding out in their cave I built. In the evening we take them out of the cave and put them in their little pool and watch as they drink and play and then slowly walk up to their feeding station, really fun to watch.
I am off to the ocean, have a fantastic day!!
Sep 18, 12 Comments Off on Baby Bottlenose Dolphin, Delphinidae, Baby Tursiops
Good morning friends, I have to be underwater in 30 minutes so I will get this started and be back later.
We are having crazy heat right now and no rain in sight, I actually had to get up early and start watering the plants in our yard it’s so dry! I have 5 water-baths for the birds and animals in the yard and those have to be filled twice a day! Last year about this time Bonaire had issued a notice to all residents to put out water and food for the animals, it’s such an easy thing to do and makes a big difference.
The photo today is for my poor neglected Dolphin friends who seem to wait patiently day after day for me to post their favorite animals in the World! This was taken a few months ago when our three newborns were still very tiny and stayed hidden behind their mothers. Now three months later the babies are out basicly doing whatever they want and swimming around together as a group, they are so much fun to be with underwater!!
Have a wonderful day, Barry
Sep 17, 12 Comments Off on Southern Stingray, Dasyatis americana, Stingray’s
Good Monday morning to you all, how was your weekend?? Mine was like a scene from Groundhog Day and was just about identical to what I did last weekend and the one before that. Getting this new mountain bike trail put in has become priority one and it is hard and slow work!! The brush is so think mostly with these big bushy weeds and it’s so hot and humid! By the time I get back to the car I am completly soaked to the bone and have to rinse and change cloths before I can even get in the car, it’s pretty gross! This morning I left the house on my bike at 6:15 and met the owner of one of our local bike shops at my new trail in hopes of recruting people to help. At the pace I am going it will take months to reach the end but with a little help we could cut that in half or less. My new trail work days are Saturday from 4:30 to 6:30 in the afternoon and Sunday mornings from 7:00 to 9:30. Other than the trail and walking the dogs I did build a new turtle box but still need to make legs for it, I think they will love it!
Your photo today was again shot right here at the Curacao Sea Aquarium in our all new Animal Encounters, here is the link, www.animal-encounters.com Here you can stop in for a snorkle or a dive and swim and feed these beautiful Southern Stingrays, Dasyatis americana. These rays are harmless and have had the barbs removed from the tail so you won’t end up like poor Steve Irwin! Other creatures you will see are giant turtles, nurse sharks, lemon sharks, tarpon and dozens of others, it’s non-stop fun!
Well, sorry so short, it’s Monday and I have so much to do!!
Talk more soon, Barry
Sep 14, 12 Comments Off on Malthopsis gnoma, Grotesque Seabat, Batfish
Good morning readers, as promised here is our newest find, a super cool, two inch long Batfish from 850 feet!! This is believed to a species called; Malthopsis gnoma, aka the Grotesque Seabat…the only member of its genus in the Atlantic and could be the only live one ever photographed. This little guy is doing very well in the deep-water holding area but seems to just sit in one spot like all Batfish do. The only other Batfish I have ever seen here in Curacao and in Bonaire is the Roughback Batfish, Ogcocephalus parvus. These fish spend their days sitting in one spot apparrently relying on camouflage and will not move unless bothered. They usually inhabit deep sand or muddy and rocky bottoms and are rarely within safe diving limits. The few I have observed seem to just rest on the bottom and usually partly cover themselves with sand or mud. We have been trying to feed our little batfish but he seems to be very picky and we have tried a lot of different food and maybe he did eat some of the live shrimps and we just didn’t see it?
I had my first run-in with a tree last night on my new bike and the tree won!! My handlebars are so long now that they catch on everything, they feel great out in the open but can be dangerous in the brush, I guess there is a learning curve for everything.
I am flying over to Bonaire on the 21st just for the day to meet up with some friends and pick up some stuff they brought us from the States. The round-trip cost is a whooping $99 and takes about 15 minutes, that’s my kind of air-travel!!
Well, off to swim with the baby dolphins and shoot a little video.
Have a wonderful weekend!!
Sep 13, 12 Comments Off on Common or Green Iguana, Iguana iguana, Curacao
Good morning, here is the beautiful Green Iguana that I was telling you about that our co-worker Tico caught and removed all the ticks from it’s body, see how happy he is now!! We call this “our pet Iguana” as it seems to just hang out around our Substation property most of the day. The tourists here enjoy these creatures more than any other animal on the island, I see them being photographed nearly all day long all over the property! Green, or common, iguanas are among the largest lizards in the Americas, averaging around 6.5 feet (2 meters) long and weighing about 11 pounds (5 kilograms).
The green iguana’s extensive range comprises the rain forests of northern Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean Islands, and southern Brazil. They spend most of their lives in the canopy, descending only infrequently to mate, lay eggs, or change trees.
Primarily herbivores, iguanas are active during the day, feeding on leaves, flowers, and fruit. They generally live near water and are excellent swimmers. If threatened, they will leap from a branch, often from great heights, and escape with a splash to the water below. They are also tough enough to land on solid ground from as high as 40 feet (12 meters) and survive.
Iguanas’ stout build gives them a clumsy look, but they are fast and agile on land. They have strong jaws with razor-sharp teeth and sharp tails, which make up half their body length and can be used as whips to drive off predators. They can also detach their tails if caught and will grow another without permanent damage.
We have two dives this morning, one at 9:20 and another at 11:20, you might get lucky and see us at www.seasubmarine.com
Aimee is out hiking with the dogs as I speak and then has to wait around the house for TDS to show up, good luck with that! TDS is our TV provider and they are not know for being on time.
We have started to make our old car look better, it’s a total mess! I have been grinding out the rust holes and filling them after that we will need a quick paint job. Aimee put two new tires on yesterday and we ordered all new shocks from Holland, so in time it will be looking like new again!
I need to get ready to go diving, hope you all have a wonderful day!!
See you soon, Batfish photos are still coming!!
Sep 12, 12 Comments Off on Substation Curacao, Rinsing the Mini-Sub, Curasub
Good morning friends, I have had lots of requests for a submarine update so yesterday afternoon I ran out and snapped this photo to help explain things better. The Substation or “Curasub” has now been in operation for about two years and we have done over 700 dives!! Man, does time go by fast!! The cost for a ride is still $650 and the tours last around an hour and a half. The sub is able to go to 1000 feet and stay underwater for up to eight hours but that’s a long time to go without using the restroom!! Most of the standard tours do not go to this depth as there really is not much to see past 600 feet. We did have a marriage proposal the other day at 1000 feet and that was super cool and thank goodness she said “YES”!! You can still go to, www.seesubmarine.com and see a LIVE view at 50 feet of the coral reef right out in front of the substation, in fact there are two Lionfish there this morning!! At the end of the day we lift the sub out of the water and gently put it into our specially made rinse pool to remove all the salt. Before it was lifted out of the ocean one of our staff went inside so they can run the engines in the fresh water making sure to get all that salt water out of the system. If you look at the photo above you can see that the motors are running as fresh water is bubbling up out of the top motors and Tico is hand rinsing the parts that did not get submerged. Bruce is running the crane and the two gentlemen in the background just did the tour and had a great time!! If you look to the right of the photo you can see our specially made dock for the sub, that’s where it is parked during the day and where the guests climb in for their deep-sea adventure. For more info go to; www.substation-curacao.com
After work yesterday I met my new rider for a fun evening mountain bike ride. he is really a mini-version of Stijn who is in Sto. Domingo as I type getting ready for the Caribbean Championships!!
Well, I have to be underwater in 28 minutes, have a great day!!
Sep 11, 12 Comments Off on Sleeping Spanish Hogfish, Bodianus rufus
Good morning friends, how’s it going?? Here’s something fun. This is a sleeping Spanish Hogfish, Bodianus rufus that Eveline and I found out on the reef at 10:30 in the evening last Friday. Since we had given up on seeing any coral spawning I went in search of other photos and immediately came across this. What is super cool about this other than it’s a 12 inch fish sleeping straight up and down in Firecoral is that he has changed to his night colors!! You will never see a Spanish Hogfish in these colors during the day, the orange on his back is normally beautiful shades of blue and purple and the yellow on the rest of his body is much lighter during the day. I just love how they wedge themselves in like this, he really was straight up and down stuck in the coral. These fish are common on the reefs here and spend their days removing parasites and debris from larger fish and love brittle stars if they can find them!!
Went on a fast one hour bike ride last night and finally got to ride my new trail. Ok it wasn’t a very long ride but the new trail has a great flow to it but like I said before will take a long time to finish!
I did do one dive yesterday to go get some rocks with food on them for the deep-water crabs and encrusting sponges for the slit-shells, they have to eat as well!
My co-worker Tico caught a large Iguana out in front of the Substation yesterday with his bare hands and picked off all the ticks he had hanging from him, they were nasty! He then released him back into our yard and off he went, that was such a nice thing to do!!
Well, off the sea!!
Sep 10, 12 Comments Off on Lemon Sharks, Negaprion Brevirostris, Lemon Shark
Good morning friends, how was your weekend?? Mine was about the same as it has been since I have returned from the States. I did trail-work with the dogs both days, had to work on Saturday, started sanding our car and grinding out rust spots, did some yard work and the coolest thing, went to pick up two baby land turtles!! Stijn has three large adult tortoses in his yard and they had a lot of babies that need homes so Aimee and I said sure, lets give it a try!! I took one of my dive boxes made out of thick plastic and made them a super cool temporary home with a pool, cave and a feeding area, it’s really fun! Right now they are about the size of an OREO cookie so it’s a perfect size to start with not sure what we will do as they get bigger?? There are still more babies so if any of you locals know of a good family with a great place to keep them drop me a line.
Friday night I went coral spawning with our friend Eveline but the only spawning we saw was from a few gorgonians, no corals?? This was again a pretty weak coral spawning year which really has us worried around here as coral reefs are really on the decline!!
I had a few mails recently asking if we have sharks around here and the answer is yes, BUT I have never seen them!! Many of my friends have seen giant hammerheads out on the reef and many other species but the only shark I have ever seen is the quiet nurse sharks which hide in caves all over the island. The Lemon sharks here are from the Sea Aquarium at Animal Encounters. Here you can snorkle or dive underwater and feed the sharks through a hole in an acrilic window and get an up close and personal look at these wild looking toothed monsters! For the photo I crawled down to the edge of the lagoon (with help) and ever so carefully put my arms and the camera in the water and let them come to me with no fence or windows, it was a bit scary but we needed a good shark photo for their new website. And yes, I am sure my momma would not have approved of this but it was pretty cool!
The Lemon Shark, also known as the Negaprion Brevirostris, is the best known and most researched of all sharks. Unlike most sharks, the Lemon is able to handle captivity for extended periods of time. Therefore, scientists have had the opportunity to observe their behavior like no other shark. An adult Lemon is usually about 3.5 meters (11 feet) in length and about 190 kilograms (about 420 pounds) in weight. It is named for its unusual and bright yellow or brown pigmentation and color. This shark loves the tropical and subtropical waters in coastal areas of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. They stay in moderately shallow water, normally going no deeper than 80 meters (roughly 260 feet). They are often found in shallow waters near coasts and islands, by coral reefs, mangroves, bays, and sometimes even river mouths. Like all other shark species, they have electro receptors which allow them to track prey by the electric impulses that all living things emit. In addition to using electro receptors, they also have an astounding olfactory sense through magnetic sensors in their nose. This helps make up for their very poor vision. Because this shark is a bottom dweller, they often track their prey by churning up the ground for bony fish, rays, crustaceans, and sometimes even seabirds.
Well, lots to do on this Monday!!
Sep 7, 12 Comments Off on Scrawled Filefish. Aluterus scriptus, Filefishes
Hi all, Aimee and I are both walking zombies this morning after another late night of excitement out on the coral reef. We again hit the water at 9:30 and off we went in search of coral spawning. The first thing we found was this weird red crab hiding in a big colony of fire coral. He was so hidden that it was very hard to get a shot off but did end up with something and it’s a crab that neither one of us reconized, I will send the photo. When your on these coral spawning dives you really have to watch the clock and not get distracted by things like crabs and cool fish but for those of you that know me, that’s impossible! We found corals starting to release eggs at 10:05 and it continued till almost 10:20, it was fantastic! Our goal for the evening was to again TRY to find some brittle stars feeding on these released coral eggs but they are so afraid of the light that almost every attempt ends in failure! So as Aimee was searching for brittle stars I found this beautiful Scrawled Filefish. Aluterus scriptus along with a Honeycomb Cowfish hiding or sleeping in a big cavity in the reef. This sexy fish was about two and a half feet long and was so easy to photograph and such a joy to watch. These fish are known for changing their colors and patterns in the blink of an eye to adapt to their surroundings. The top photo is when I first found him, fairly calm, the bottom photo is after the strobes went off and he was possibly feeling a bit threatened, you can see he turned much darker. These are some of the hands down most gentle and beautiful creatures on the reef and are fairly uncommon to see. Night dives are about the only time I have ever been able to get close to one as they always find a spot to sleep for the night and stay-put regardless of anoying photographers. The evening ended with us playing with a small octopus in around 35 feet of water. This octopus could have cared less that we were there, he just kept hunting for food often passing inches from my camera. We again got home late last night and are both in need of more coffee right now. Tonight we go again and will be joined by our friend Eveline who hasn’t dove with us since the last coral spawning, we can hardly wait!!
Have a wonderful day all!!