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 October, 2012
Oct 31, 12 Comments Off on Deep Water Shells, Deep Water Hermit Crabs
Good morning friends, I took a few days off to spend with the family. This morning we left early with the dogs and worked on the trail for 2 hours, it was so great to finally get some help! The trail is looking good and is ready for business, just need to get the end of it open which is easier said than done.
So last night I was supposed to meet four different people for a ride but one by one they all called in and canceled!! I ended up just going by myself which really isn’t that much fun, it’s more like work or torture.
Here is the shell and the occupant from yesterdays photo, I had a bunch or requests to see the whole shell. The shell and it’s owner were both found very deep on the reef, at around 500 feet! I put the crab in a very small aquarium by himself along with 20 other empty sea shells in hopes he would leave the shell he was in and go into one of the others which he did do after a few hours. We wanted the shell to sell but didn’t want to harm the crab so by surrounding him with other homes to pick from he is now out and safe and sound. The shell is only 48mm long and is kind of a common size of the shells way down there in the darkness.
That’s about it, Aimee and I have all kinds of things to do, talk to you tomorrow.
Have a wonderful day, Barry
Oct 30, 12 Comments Off on Sea Shells, Sea Shell Designs, Designs in Nature
Good morning from stormy Curacao. Like the rest of the World Aimee and I have been glued to the t.v. watching the storms hit the East coast and thankful that it’s not us. Most of the big storms and hurricanes start in our area but never really do much, I think it’s one of the more safer islands to be on in the Caribbean.
We are also still struggling with the recent news about Lance Armstrong who was stripped of his SEVEN Tour de France wins!!!?? It really just kills me but we still love the guy, he can come to Curacao anytime and hang with us.
Tonight we have a big mountain bike ride with a few of the top pro riders and of course little Dorian. I went out to the desert yesterday at 3:45 with the dogs and worked on getting the trails ready for the ride tonight, should be much more fun without all the loose rocks and thorn bushes!
The above photo is a close-up of the top of a deep-water sea shell we recently found and sorry but I don’t know the name yet. This shell was only 48mm in height which is very small but it’s so beautiful.
Well sorry so short, busy day ahead!
Have a wonderful day, Barry
Oct 29, 12 Comments Off on Superior Producer, Curacao Dive Sites, Wreck Dives
Good morning friends, how was your weekend?? Mine went by so fast it was incredible! Saturday morning I met Dorian at his house at 7:00 and off we went for a two hour training ride to the North coast and back, it was fun! The only down side was the lack of wind this weekend here on Curacao, it was as HOT as it gets here and by the time we got home at 9:00 we were both soaked to the bone! Once I got home I rushed into work and got my dive gear and camera ready for a dive with Mark at the Superior Producer. The dive was fantastic as usual, there seems to be no end to the fun one can have onboard this 109 foot sunken cargo ship! I mostly focused on Mark (no pun intended) as he explored the ship but with not so great visability trying to get a shot of the whole ship was impossible. On the way back up the reef at 35 feet we again stopped and watched a big beautiful sea horse hanging onto a gorgonian eating lunch, talk about cool! After the dive I went back to work and rinsed everything and then took off for an afternoon of shopping and working on my “honey-do list”, it’s a long list!
Sunday morning I left the house at 6:30 with the dogs and we took off to work on the new trail for two hours. Again, with the lack of wind it was just down right misserable, I so wet from sweat that I had to take my shirt off twice and rince it in fresh water, yucko!! I am so close to being done with this section of trail but it’s now the thickest bush I have ever been through, it takes about an hour to cut through 15 feet! At 12:00 I again met Mark for yet another Superior Producer wreck dive and this time the water was clear as you can see from the photo above. Mark is a great model as he has perfect bouyency and is able to swim in and out of the doors and windows like a human fish making my job much easier. We swam all over the ship taking photos, it’s always so much fun and there is always so much to see, it’s a must do for all visiting divers! Also don’t waste your $$ on doing a boat dive here, it’s a great shore dive and you have a wonderful reef filled with sea horses to decompress on. After the dive I again went back to work and rinsed everything, then took off to work on my “to do list” again. Fun weekend again here in Curacao.
The Pro cyclists are showing up today and tomorrow for the “Amstel Gold” race this weekend, I will of course be out there taking photos.
It rained so hard here last night!! I was up at 4:00am scooping water off the back deck (with a dust pan) trying to keep it from flooding our down stairs, it was a non-stop river!
Have a great day, Barry
Oct 26, 12 Comments Off on Chapman, Research Vessels, Substation Curacao
Hi friends, as promised yesterday here are a few photos to better explain what I was talking about when I said, “we are doing a test run and taking the sub to the Chapman”. We aqquired the Chapman (white ship) a few years ago from Puerto Rico where it was once used as a research vessel but was completly covered in rust and falling apart! Dutch discovered this vehicle just sitting there unused and going to waste so he and a crew flew there and somehow managed to drive this boat (top photo) all the way back to Curacao!! The ship has undergone a complete overhaul since, inside and out and is now months away from being put to sea. So yesterday for the first time ever we brought the sub over to the Chapman and lifted it up onto the deck with the brand new crane and did a test to see how well this whole operation will work! The plan is to travel the Caribbean with a team of researchers and search the depths for new and excitting finds, our first trip is already planned for Klein Curacao. The top photo shows the new crane lifting the sub into the floating dock, this is where the dock and sub will travel while in route to it’s destinations. Once on site the crane will first pick up the floating dock (photo 2) and set it into the water, then once it is securred to the back of the ship they will pick up the sub and set it into the floating dock (photo 3). The floating dock will be kept in the water during the days on location and the sub will be pulled out every night and rinsed off, it’s going to be super cool! For more information you can contact Laureen at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.substation-curacao.com
I had a great ride last night with little Dorian, talk about one fast 12 year old! He passed me on a steep climp and it was too late to respond! Tomorrow morning him and I will take off on a long 2 hour training ride to the North coast and after I am going to go try to get my trail finished!
Have a wonderful day all, Barry
Oct 25, 12 Comments Off on Gecko, Curacao Reptiles, Caribbean Animals
Good morning, I have to make this short as we have a big day ahead. In about 30 minutes a big truck will arrive that we will use to load the sub onto and then drive it to where we are working on the Chapman. The Chapman is a big ship that has been completely restored from top to bottom and soon will be traveling around the Caribbean with our sub on deck, sounds fun huh?? Today or this morning is our first test run to see how the new crane we just mounted aboard the ship works and how easily it will lift the sub so cross your fingers. I will send a photo tomorrow of this whole event to better explain the whole process.
Above is one of the hundreds of little Gecko’s that live at our house and can only be found at night. These delicate little creatures hide all day under anything safe they can find and then once the sun sets can be found all along the house clinging to the walls eating insects. It’s hard to see from the photo but their eyes are beautiful and they have the coolest little feet that stick to anything, we often see them hanging upside down on the ceiling??
I have to run, have a wonderful day!!
Oct 24, 12 Comments Off on Caracara, Caribbean Birds, Birds of Curacao
Good morning all, I have a beautiful Caracara this morning for my feathered loving friends out there living in Wyoming and South Dakota. I came across this big bird of prey over at the salt pans and to my complete surprise he never flew off but instead let me walk right up under the cactus he was sitting on, it was great! Unlike other birds of prey these Caracara’s spend more time walking on the ground than flying in the air, it seems to be their preferred way of hunting! Here on Curacao there is no shortage of food for these birds because of the zillions of lizards, small bunnies and Iguana’s that call this island home. The scientific name comes from poly, the Greek word for many or varied; boros, meaning gluttonous and remarks on the bird’s voracious appetite; and from the Latin word plancus, which is a word Aristotle used for an eagle. The common name, caracara, is what South Americans called the bird and probably imitates the sound of the bird. This bird has been called Caracara Eagle, King Buzzard, Mexican Eagle, Audubon’s Caracara, and Mexican Buzzard. The scientific name of this bird was formerly Caracara cheriway.
I had a nice ride last night but unfortunately it’s now getting dark at around 6:20, this doesn’t leave much time to ride.
Not much else to report, all is quiet and the winds are back!!
See you soon, Barry
Oct 23, 12 Comments Off on Superior Producer, Top Dive Sites in Curacao
Good morning friends, here are three more shots from the best dive site in Curacao, the Superior Producer. I found an old Sport Diver article that reads; “We’re not certain who supervised the loading and trimming of the Superior Producer before its final voyage in September 1977, but we think it’s a safe bet that he doesn’t work in shipping anymore. The 200-foot ship made it just beyond the Willemstad Harbour mouth before heavy seas shifted its already top-heavy load. Packed with household and Christmas goods bound for Colombia, the freighter began to take on water, and it quickly sank in 100 feet of water – just the length of a football field offshore. It lies so close to the island that, on a good day when the currents are down, a strong and experienced swimmer can shore dive it”. The top photo shows Mark from the World famous Dive Bus Hut heading towards the rear of the monster wreck. The middle photo is Mark again exploring one of the many walk ways and the bottom photo was taken at the top of the ship. The ship is completely covered in beautiful encrusting sponges and corals of every shape and size but without a light you will never see all the colors. This is also one of the best dive spots to see Queen Angelfish, giant Barracudas and Sea horses and if you have a light shine it in all the hard to get to spots and you will be amazed what creatures call this ship home.
We had a quiet day yesterday with just one sub dive and today will be about the same.
I have to get to the deep water labs to shoot some new photos, have a wonderful day!
Oct 22, 12 Comments Off on Goliath Grouper, Epinephelus itajara, Superior Producer
Good morning from wet Curacao! Yes, we are in complete cloud cover again this morning with black clouds on the horizon but even with all the rain this weekend I still had a great two days off!!!! I did NO trail work again this weekend, I am so close to being finished but just plane sick of it and with all the rain we got it made my decision to not go there even easier!
Saturday morning I took the dogs and my camera to Saint Joris bay in search of a new snail that lives exclusively on the arms of the Endangered Mangrove trees. It was so muddy when we got there but the dogs didn’t seem to mind so on we went walking to the farthest point called Mangusa Point. This is where the trail kind of ends and the real adventure starts as it becomes more of a hard to see goat trail and you just kind of wonder along the waters edge weaving in and out of the mangroves. To my delight I found the snails pretty easily and was shocked at all the different colors they come in, they are large and absolutely beautiful! To get to the snails one needs to walk in knee deep water/mud and then look on the underneath of the mangrove arms that reach into the water, they seem to love being just a short distance above the water. I took photos for around an hour while the dogs ran back and forth through the water chasing anything that made noise. I will send you a bunch of these photos from the snails later this week. Once back home after three hours of hiking I washed the dogs and put them to bed and then took off down to my sea glass beach for a quick look. No sooner had I got there and started walking I spotted the brightest piece of glowing yellow sea glass I had ever seen, it was a sight to behold! Yellow is by far the hardest color to find and this one is a true beauty, I will get it photographed soon and get it out to you, it made my day!
On Sunday we woke to a big rain storm which killed my planned mountain bike ride to the North coast, I don’t mind a bit of rain but I hate riding in mud! So then I got a call from Mark from the World famous Dive Bus Hut and he asked if I wanted to go the Superior Producer later and of course I said yes! We met on site at 1:15 and by 1:35 we were on the way down to the coolest dive site in Curacao! When I say “we” it was me and Mark and three other divers he brought with him, the more the merrier I say! Diving here is always an adventure, you honestly never know what you will see which brings us to your photos of the day! I was photographing Mark on the ship when he signaled to me to look at what was laying on the sand below us at 125 feet!! I stared in complete disbelief and then almost blew the regulator out of my mouth in excitement, could that really be what we think it is??? YES, it was our first ever sighting of a very large Goliath Grouper, Epinephelus itajara, what the heck is this fish doing in Curacao?? Mark and I first just stared in disbelief from above, this fish was huge! I then signaled to Mark to swim around to the other side of the giant fish and maybe if we are lucky I could get close enough for a photo? Well getting close proved to be no problem at all, he was completely unafraid and let me shoot away with Mark right behind him, this was about as good as Curacao diving gets and once again Mark proves that diving with the Dive Bus gang can’t be beat! Not only did Mark find this big beauty he also found a new crab that attaches sponges to it’s body for camouflage called a Redeye Sponge Crab. In all the years here I have never seen one of those as well but will have to return at night to get a shot of him, maybe this Thursday! After 20 minutes of Superior entertainment we slowly made our way back up the reef and at around 45 feet when one of the divers with Mark starts banging on his tank to signal us all that he just found something cool. Something cool indeed, he found a big, black seahorse hiding in a clump of gorgonians, it really blended in well with the reef, that was icing on the cake!
I finally finished the turtle box and got them put into their new home, they seemed a bit confused but in a week should be feeling right at home!
Off to the sea, have a wonderful day, Barry
Oct 19, 12 Comments Off on Perotrochus Quoyanus, Slit Shells, Rare Sea Shells
Good morning from rainy Curacao!! Aimee just called and said she is stuck out on the trails in the pouring rain!! The sad thing is besides not having an umbrella is that she is a long ways away from the car, there is no where to hide!! She did go on to say that the dogs are loving it and racing around at top speed, Inca loves the water and mud but not sure Indi does??
Here is yet another first for you lucky followers of the blog. This is a very rare slit-shell called Perotrochus Quoyanus (Fischer & Bernardi, 1856 that we found at around 300 feet, compare the one I sent you yesterday with this one, this one is much smaller and much different. As you can see, the slit-shell mullusk is gone and a new deep water hermit crab has claimed it as his new home, pretty cool huh?? This is a new crab that we have never found before, he is so beautiful and really matches the shell. I wonder if he knows he is walking around with a $650 shell?? Also if you look closely you will see two live anemones stuck to the bottom of his shell, it’s just too cool for words! The antenna on this crab were so long that I could not get them in the photo although I did get a shot of him cleaning one of his antenni by holding it with both claws, it’s pretty cute. If we deciede we want to sell the shell we will put a few other empty shells in with him and he should switch shells on his own, hermits are known for moving from one house to another quite often.
The superfamily of Pleurotomariacae Swainson, 1840, are among the oldest surviving mollusca on Earth, having first appeared in the late upper Cambrian period over 500 million years ago. The Pleurotomariidae family includes all recent slit-shell species, first appeared in the Triassic period, some 200 million years ago. Since the discovery of the first living plearotomariid species, all have been commonly referred to as â€œliving fossilsâ€ having previously thought to be extinct since the Tertiary. The slit-shell was first illustrated by a Japanese naturalist named Kimura Kenkado in 1755. The slit-shell family consists of top shaped shells characterized by a slit in the edge of the outer whorl. When threatened as you see here, the animal is capable of discharging a very toxic white solution! These mollusks like others do have a cool little circular operculum but it is not visible in this photo. The operculum is like a shield and uses it as a last defense to block entry into it’s delicate mantle area. Sixteen species are known to exist and all are found deep. Most extant species are in the genus Perotrochus and Entemnotrochus. The slit-shell is evolutionarily primitive and lives as a grazer. Sponges form the staple diet, although other food residues have been found in the esophagus and rectum of preserved animals. It is found in tropical and subtropical waters, typically at 300-3000 foot depths. Few people have actually observed a living slit-shell in it’s natural habitat, which can be easily explained by the nature of the habitat it is found in. The uniqueness and sheer beauty of these magnificent shells make them one of the classic rarities of the shell world.
I had a fast and furious ride last night after work, it’s now getting dark at 6:20 making it hard to get miles in after work.
Off to the sea, Barry
Oct 18, 12 Comments Off on Spanish Flags, Slit-Shell, Entemnotrochus adansonianus
Good morning friends, a big thanks to our friend Ray for helping out with giving names to the little shells we found in the bottle a few days ago. Look below at the older blog from Monday and you will see it is now updated with new information.
Here is another photo from the deep and something you will never see anywhere else but right here!! This is a rare Slit Shell called a Entemnotrochus adansonianus with two baby or juvenile Spanish Flags using it as a home or a fun place to hide in. The shell is hevally damaged but suits these two little buieties just fine, “home is where the Slit-Shell is right”?? These were found at around 400 feet in the Curasub and have a range of around 300-400 feet. The shells when found in perfect shape command high prices to the shell collectors selling from $1000 to $4000!!! We did find a perfect three and a half inch Adansonianus the other day and yesterday I photographed it alive, will send those to you next week. The Spanish Flags are also amung one of the top most sought after fish in the world for aquariests, only a handful have ever been brought up alive.
I am off to the water for a dive at 11:00 with the sub!!
See you to tomorrow, Barry
Oct 17, 12 Comments Off on Exploring the Reef at Night in the New Curasub
Good morning, I know the blog is late again, what can I say?? We had such a late night diving with the sub that I decided to take Aimee and the dogs to the North Coast this morning to make up for me not being there last night.
Last evening after work I first met Dorian my 12 year old cycling wonder and then we took off for a fun hour ride through the sweltering wilds of Curacao. Dorian had been gone for a week in Florida on a fun family vacation and was for the first time a little out of shape, nice to know it’s not just old people that get run down! After the ride I went straight into work, jumped in the pool with all my gear on and then quickly dried off and got my diving gear ready for my night dive with the sub. We all submerged at around 6:30 and down I went to 120 feet and waited for the sub to arrive. I parked myself behind this cluster of sponges and got all set up and then watched the sub make it’s way down to me. As it descended it looked like a alien craft glowing in the darkness, it was so eerie yet so exciting at the same time! Once they found me I motioned for them to get more into position and then I shot away but with those two big bright lights on the sub it was very difficult as I could hardly see the sub to focus. After taking this shot I motioned for them to back up and I moved in closer for a shot just of the people in the front, one was my boss Dutch. That was it, I was out of time and they were on a mission, I waved goodbye, they disappeared into the darkness and I slowly ascended into the light, what a fun dive!
It’s still mega hot here, ZERO wind and the ocean is still like a calm lake, all due to the hurricanes up North at the moment!
Have a wonderful day, Barry
Oct 16, 12 Comments Off on Baby Dolphins Underwater, Baby Dolphin Photos
Bon Dia Amigos!! We are still locked into the weirdest weather ever, it’s completly calm, the sea is flat and it’s darn right HOT! Last night we had thunderstorms all over the island and every few seconds a big flash of lightning lit up our rooms but it was all show and no rain!! I must say I am not looking forward to the bike ride tonight, it will be a “sweat fest” without any wind and I am guessing an hour of that punishment will be all I can take.
Here is a new dolphin photo for my dolphin fans out there. This is how newborns spend their days, just sticking close to momma and drinking milk, a photo I am still trying to get. The mothers are pretty protective of their babies for the first five months and not really letting them out of their site. At around six months she will let them start to wonder off on their own and start exploring but always seems to know exactly where they are and what they are doing.
Well sorry so short, I have to get to work!
Be back soon, Barry
Oct 15, 12 Comments Off on Deep Water Sea Shells, Tiny Sea Shells, Rare Shells
Good morning readers, how was your weekend?? Well let me tell you, mine was fairly lazy!! Curacao is locked into a “HEAT WAVE” right now that has been going since last Friday and with ZERO wind, high humidity and a blistering sun, it’s down right miserable! Saturday morning I came into work early to meet the three World Champions again as they needed to sign some photos for our “Wall of Fame” and for my personal autograph book, one of the many benefits to living here. After that they mentioned how much fun it would be to swim with the dolphins as well so I said “we can arrange that” and off we all went over to Dolphin Academy, www.dolphin-acadmey.com We organized a swim with the guys for 2:00 so since it was still early I left and went shopping and worked on my turtle box and then came back at 2:00 to watch them with the dolphins. The swim was a total success, I mean really our dolphins are the greatest and so much fun to be with, who wouldn’t have a great time?? After saying good-bye I went home and hid in the air-co with the dogs and watched some HBO, it was about as relaxing as it gets for a HOT Saturday!
Here is our newest find, these are tiny/rare sea shells found deep with the sub inside assorted glass bottles. These shells are all to scale so use the biggest one in the middle as your ruler of sorts, it’s 4cm or 40mm tall!! We are now picking up all the discarded bottles we find and bringing them back to see what’s in inside, most are filled with empty little shells of all shapes and sizes! Some of the bottles we find date back to the early 1800’s while other are fairly recent beer bottles tossed over the side of some boat or thrown from shore.
Thanks to our new friend Ray he sent us the names of the shells above, just another reason to love our fans!!
From left clockwise around the big shell:
Big Shell: probably Antillophos (need to see underside)
Glyphostoma sp (Turridae)
Terebra sp. (white log narrow one)
Latirus sp. (ribs with bands)
Muricidae sp. (could be a Babelomurex or one of the small murex shells)
Babelomurex/Latiaxis sp. (top left corner)
Pterynotus sp. (spiny one at the left apex of big shell)
Nassarius sp. (right of big shells apex)
Babelomurex sp (under the Nassarius, spiny)
Cochlespira sp. (tall one at top right)
Prunum/Volvarina sp. (smooth oval white one, Marginellidae)
Mitridae, maybe Nodocostellaria (one on middle far right)
Coralliophila sp. (maybe squamosus)
Another Babelomurex sp. (dalli, basilium, sentix?)
Ray says, “there may be some undescribed species of mollusk down there”!
Thanks Ray for the info!!!
I need to get to work, have a wonderful day all!!
Hot, Curacao regards, Barry
Oct 13, 12 Comments Off on Top BMX Racers, BMX London, Fastest BMX Racers
Good morning friends, we had a fun day yesterday with the BMX guys who are here in Curacao for a big race on Sunday. From left to right we have Raymon van der Biezen, Maliek Byndloss, myself and Robin van der Kolk. These guys are all world Champions and are at the top of their game and Sunday we get to watch them here do what they do best and “rip it up on the track”! The boys did a fun hour sub ride yesterday all sponsored by Substation Curacao, www.substation-curacao.com and I think it’s safe to say they all had a great time!!
Here is a cool Youtube clip of Raymon preparing and training hard for the 2012 London Olympics;
Here is a great video clip from Maliek’s facebook page;
And one more, this is Robins home page;
I am off to take the dogs for a walk, work on my turtle home and take a long bike ride, have a great weekend all!!
See you Monday, Barry
Oct 12, 12 Comments Off on Split-Crown Feather Duster, Anamobaea orstedii
Hey guys, I am having a hard time as of late finding time to get these blogs posted, the mornings are just so busy!! We have three sub dives today starting at 9:00. Our 1:00 dive will be really fun as we will have three top BMX Word Champions joining us! The names are as follows, Robin van der Kolk (Word Champion), Raymon van der Biezen (4th in London) and Malyk Byndloss, the American Champion, should be a lot of fun!
Here is a before and after of a beautiful Split-Crown Feather Duster, Anamobaea orstedii. The top photo shows how these cool animals look when open and the bottom photo is what happens when they are disturbed, they retreat deep down inside their tubes for safety!
I just got out of the water from my first dive, that’s one down two to go!! The ocean is dead calm still morning and there is zero wind, you want to talk about HOT!! I was told we had some isolated storms in the area so at least there is a chance for some good rain.
Tomorrow morning I am leaving real early for a much needed long bike ride to the North coast, I need to get at least three hours in to make up for all my days of trail work which I will continue Saturday evening and on Sunday.
Have a wonderful weekend, Barry