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 December, 2012
Dec 31, 12 Comments Off on Slate-Pencil Urchin, Eucidaris tribuloides, Sea Urchins
Good morning friends, are you all ready for a late night out tonight, it’s almost 2013!! The fireworks here have been going for two days already but tonight will be the serious non-stop “shock and Awe” campaign!! I will most likely be staying home all evening again with the dogs and the t.v turned up high to keep them from going too crazy and make sure the cat is inside and the baby turtles are brought in and kept protected as well.
My weekend was filled with a multitude of missions and the best one was completed yesterday with the help of Stiyn. For months now I have had two 12 foot wood boards at the house in the driveway waiting to go to the trail to be used as a bridge over a muddy area, but the worry has been, how to get them there?? So on Saturday we loaded them in the car with the boards sticking out of the back and first drove them to a drop-off spot where we hid them in the brush. We then went back yesterday morning at 7:30 and one by one carried them by hand about a mile each way, difficult but the task is now done, all that is left is to paint them and put the bridge together. The rest of day was spent with running around town buying paint and doing all kinds of last minute stuff before the New Year. At 4:00 yesterday Stiyn and I left on a long, fun two hour mountain bike trip to the North coast, other then my one crash on a sandy corner we had a great time! In the evening we had a party at Stiyn’s house and we were joined by Scott and Tammi.
Our guests, Scott, Tammi and Hannah are busy with diving and teaching their daughter to dive and today and tomorrow Hannah will be doing a dolphin training course at Dolphin Academy.
Your photo today is of Stiyn holding a live Slate-Pencil Urchin, Eucidaris tribuloides that we found a few days ago hiding under a rock at a dive spot called Tugboat. These urchins are fairly hard to find as they spend much of their lives hiding in sea grass beds or deep in the reef away from danger. The spines are not sharp at all like other sea urchins we have here and are really fun to watch as they crawl around. After we took this photo we gently placed him back in his cave and said good-bye and as usual I wished I had my macro lens instead of a wide angle!
Well, that’s it for 2012, hard to believe but it’s over!! Have a safe New Years and keep your animals safe!! Thanks for a wonderful year, Barry and Aimee
Dec 28, 12 Comments Off on Fish Eyes, Parrotfish, Fish Eye Close Up, Macro
Hi friends, on our night dive the other night I found a sleeping Redtail Parrotfish, Sparisoma chrysopterum and ever so slowly moved in for a close-up shot of just the eye, talk about a difficult task!! At night the reef here is covered with sleeping fish, they are not hard to find but trying to move in without waking them is really quite a feat. We have so many varieties of parrotfish in the Caribbean. During the day they are seen as one color but at night they have the ability to change colors which allow them to blend in with the reef keeping them safe throughout the long night. Also like other fish parrotfish are born one color scheme and then change drastically in colors as they get older, it’s so cool!! For those of you new to night diving remember to never shine your lights directly on the fish. This will scare them causing them to flee and in most cases they can’t see where they are going and can injure themselves by slamming into rocks and corals!
We had a crazy busy day at Substation yesterday, we did three long runs with 10 paying customers, it was great but wore me out! Scott and Stiyn did two Lionfish hunting dives here yesterday but in the end only found a few, better to hunt them at night.
That’s about it, I have to get in the water, have a wonderful day!
See you soon, Barry
Dec 27, 12 Comments Off on New Divers, Teaching Kids to Dive, Young Divers
Good morning friends, I am back!! I apologize for the no blogs for the past few days but have been crazy busy!! So last Friday our friends, Scott, Tammi and their daughter Hannah arrived safe and sound to Curacao and showed up at our house at around 6:00. We unloaded more luggage then I had ever seen three people carry and upon further investigation found out that much of it was for us!! We then all went to different rooms and all wrapped presents and then carried them upstairs and placed them under the driftwood Christmas tree for the following morning. Stiyn surprised me the most with bringing over a big wrapped box and ended up getting me the most fun present of all, a new unicycle!! I was so shocked but quickly took it outside for a ride around the block, your never too old to ride on one wheel!!
Saturday morning (Christmas) was a complete blast! First we made our favorite Highlander Groog coffee which Scott and Tammi brought then we shreded presents, why can’t every day be like Christmas!! After the fun Aimee took off to work and Hannah and I took the dogs out to the new trail where I spent the next hour building another new berm, that’s two down now and one more big one to go! The rest of the day was spent over at the Sea Aquarium watching Aimee with the dolphins, setting up dive gear and going sea glass collecting, the day went by fast!
Yesterday I met Stiyn and Dorian at 7:15 and we all took off for an hour and a half of racing thru the wilds of Curacao and getting to ride the new trail more than once. After the ride Stiyn rode back home but his mom brought him back to the house and he stayed with us for the rest of the day. At around 11:00 we all packed up the cars with dive gear and took off to the Tugboat at Caracas bay for Hanna’s first dive in the ocean this year. The photo above is Scott and Hannah, and Tammi and Stiyn in the background, it was a lot of fun and a beautiful day to go diving!! Aimee also went with us but stayed on the beach relaxing in a chair reading a book, it was the first time in a long time that she just got to do nothing! That was pretty much the day, it took a while to wash all the gear after and to clean the camera. In the evening we did a night dive at the Substation but the dive was filled with all kinds of little problems for everyone, the next one will be better.
I trust everyone out there had a wonderful Christmas, I know we did thanks to all our friends and family that sent down gifts, we love you long time!
Have a great day, Barry
Dec 24, 12 Comments Off on Merry Christmas Palms, Decorated Palm Trees
Hi all, how was the weekend?? We are anxiously awaiting the arrival of our guest who should be here at 3;30 today!!
Saturday morning the island woke to a non-stop tropical downpour that din’t end till late in the afternoon, talk about ruining a weekend! It was raining so hard that we couldn’t even take the dogs for a walk let alone let them out to pee, it was crazy! I ended up going into work and working on my driftwood stuff and then spending the day in the house cleaning and getting the house ready for company. Yesterday I took off to the trail at 7:00 am with the dogs and managed to build one of the three needed berms on my new trail but it was muddy! While working a runner and three bikers came through and all of them stopped to say thank-you, it kind of made all the hard work a bit more worth it! We got home after 10:00 and then I raced around like a mad-man trying my hardest to get everything that was left to do finished, it was not easy! In the evening I went over to Lions Dive Hotel and shot this fun photo for you all today, What could say “Merry Christmas” better than decorated palm trees??
Here are some super fun links you will all enjoy!!!!!
That’s about it, sorry so short but I have a list a mile long to get done today! Have a wonderful Christmas and drop us a line if you find time, we would love to hear from you and know what you all got for Christmas!!
Be safe, Barry
Dec 21, 12 Comments Off on Bottlenose Dolphins Underwater, Baby Dolphins
Good morning friends, it’s Friday!! Last evening after work and to my surprise Aimee went mountain biking with me!! We did a super fun technical 45 minute loop and unbelievably she only put her foot down a few times on the whole course, I was very proud of her. The highlight of the ride was getting to ride the new trail with her for the first time and when we started the trail we noticed that many bikes had already passed through hours earlier! I will be out there this weekend building my last few berms and then all that is left is to haul out some big heavy flat rocks which will be buried to help with erosion caused by skidding tires.
Yesterday we did two sub dives so I was in and out of the water and today there are three, it will be a busy day!
Here is a new dolphin momma and baby shot for my poor neglected dolphin fans out there, you know I do what I can to keep you all in photos.
Sorry so short, I have to photograph tiny shells, go to the deep water lab and help feed everything and be in the water at 11:00, so let’s get this day started!!
Have a wonderful weekend, Barry
Dec 20, 12 Comments Off on Finding Nemo in a Mini-Sub, The Real Nemo Found!
Good morning friends, how are you all today?? I hope your well and that you all have a great holiday season, I know ours is shaping up to be a great time! Our guests arrive from South Dakota this coming Monday at 3:30 and Tuesday is Christmas, we will be diving for sure!!
Aimee is off again today and is out walking the dogs out on the new trail as I type and like a good wife is doing a bunch more needed tasks to get the trail ready for the bikers.
Well the good news for the day is, “we found Nemo”!!! And like all of you out there I thought he was safe and sound with his father on the Great Barrier Reef but apperently he made his way to the Caribbean!! Crazy right?? We found him resting from his long swim at 960 feet and did what any deep sea research mini-sub would do, we rescued him!! We have sent word to his worried father and he is now safe in the deep water labs and seems to be eating and doing fine, what a relief! Besides finding Nemo we found a bottle that dates back to the late 1700’s, seven big Torpedo’s, a wheelbarrow full of regular bottles filled with rare shells, masks, glasses, a tire, surfboard parts and on and on, it’s a treasure chest down there!! For more cool reports and pictures of the sub you can go to www.substation-curacao.com
I am off to the lab, have a wonderful day, Barry
Dec 19, 12 Comments Off on Long-Arm Starfish/Brittle-stars, Deep Sea Brittlestars
Good morning friends, what a great day this has been so far!! This is our Christmas day because Aimee is off, we have friends coming on Christmas and she works Christmas day!! Our day started out with turning all our fun Christmas lights on and tearing into presents, it was so much fun, I mean who doesn’t love opening wrapped gifts?? I was the luck recipient of a new air/depth gauge for my regulator, a dinosaur flashlight, some “Sock Guy” socks, lots of chocolates, water bottles, a new bike key chain and some super cool dinosaur models, love it all!! After shredding gifts we started to get ready to go to the trail when Aimee said, “why is Indi licking her lips”??? “Did she eat something”?? I looked at her and her ears went down and the words “guilty” was written all over her face!!! I quickly looked around and then yelled out, “she ate the whole box of chocolates”!!!!!! With cat like reflexes Aimee grabbed the hydrogen peroxide and a turkey baster and took Indi outside to more or less pump her stomach! She forces the peroxide down the throat and within minutes up came breakfast and all the chocolates!! Thank goddess we have a dog doctor on staff, she saved the morning! We then loaded the dogs and took off to do two hours of final work on the trail, we got so much done this morning and by the time we left it was looking real good! All I need to do now is dig in 3 or 4 more berms to make the corners faster and work on the entrance which is still kind of hidden, other than that it’s done!
Your photo of the day is yet another bazaar creature we found at around 900 feet!! These are some kind of super long armed brittle stars and really you have to see it to believe it!! If you look near the base there is a smaller one that does not have long arms yet or it’s the male or female of this species and may not get long arms, who knows?? When stretched out the arms of the big brittle star are over a foot long, that’s darn right amazing and so beautiful to watch!
The sub is currently underwater now as I type, they found 4 torpedo’s at 1000 feet the other day and are looking for more today, who knows what will be found next!
Have a wonderful day all!! Barry
Dec 18, 12 Comments Off on Deep Water Shrimp, Cleaner Shrimps, Shrimps
Good morning from Curacao!! Here’s a super cool shrimp that we spotted on a weird piece of coral or gorgonian at 900 feet!!! If anyone out there knows the name to this shrimp please let me know and I will update the text. The shrimps body alone was around 2 inches in length but with his long feelers and antenna he ended up being twice that size. Shrimps play a very important role in the sea, they not only feed so many creatures but they also act as fish doctors of sorts spending their days cleaning fish. Yes it’s true, a shrimp will sit perched out on a rock in plain site and fish of all kinds will pull up in front of him and get a free cleaning. It’s a win-win for both species, the shrimp gets fed eating bacteria and parasites and the fish in turn recieves a free doctors visit.
Today I am headed to the deep water lab to finish photographing all the weird stuff that was recently found on the last trip and to shoot a ton of different live cone shells. Last week I set up a new large size aquarium for photography to shoot my larger stuff in like the sea cucumbers, sand dollars, toadfish and now a small shark, more photos on the way.
Aimee and I are doing a small Christmas tomorrow morning and then another when our guests arrive. After we shred presents we are going to head out to the new trail and get some major work done, I can hardly wait!
See you soon, Barry
Dec 17, 12 Comments Off on Calliostoma, Calliostomatidae, Live Calliostoma Shells
Good morning all, sorry so late but I first had to go take some progress photos of our big ship called the Chapman that will soon be taking our sub all over the Caribbean.
So how was your weekend?? I bet you were all busy decorating and shopping and like us glued to the t.v. watching the worst school shooting ever in Connecticut!!!!
So my good news is that I finally finished my new mountain bike trail!! Yeah, right it only took six months!! On Sunday morning I got down low and looked through the thick brush and could see the dirt road I was headed to in the distance, that was all the motivation I needed!! I ended up coming out around 20 feet from the exit of the Calabash trail, that’s not bad!! I still need to do hundreds of other little jobs like build more burmed corners and cut little stumps but all in all it’s open and ready for business! I was so tired once i got home I went to bed with the dogs and didn’t wake up till 2:00?? And yes, “poof” the day was gone!!
Here are two new live Calliostoma sp. shells we recently found with the new “Curasub” at a whooping 800 feet! They are small, both around an inch tall but as beautiful as shells can get. I watched them for hours the other day in the aquarium walking around and feeding and I tried to do my best at getting some fun photos. The smaller one on the left was much more lively than the one on the right and it took hours of waiting before he came out.
Calliostoma is a genus of small to medium-sized sea snails with gills and an operculum, marine gastropod muluscs within the family Calliostomatidae.
The name of this genus is derived from the Greek words kallos (beautiful) and stoma (mouth), referring to the pearly aperture of the shell. The genus Calliostoma is known in fossil records from the Upper Cretaceous onwards.
The distribution of this genus is distributed worldwide, found mainly on hard substrata, although Japanese species have been found on sandy bottoms. These snails occur from shallow waters to bathyal depths.
The species in this genus are mainly herbivorous or feed on detritus, although a few have been observed to be omnivorous (Keen, 1975) or even carnivorous, feeding on a wide range of algae and on animals belonging to various other invertebrate phyla. The North Atlantic top shell Calliostoma occidentale has been reported to feed on coelenterates.
Contrary to what is the case in most other top shells, Calliostoma deposits its eggs in gelatinous ribbons that are only fertilized after being deposited. The young emerge as small snails (Lebour, 1936) without passing through a free-living planktonic stage as a veliger larva.
That’s about it, we are getting the house ready for our guests that arrive in a week and once they arrive we will be doing a lot of diving!
Have a great day!! Barry
Dec 14, 12 Comments Off on Deep Water Toadfish, Batrachoididae, Toadfishes
Good morning all, sorry about the no-blog yesterday, I took the day off with Aimee and was never around a computer. We started out the day by taking the dogs to Saint Joris for a fun driftwood collecting trip. During the walk we somehow managed to avoid two major rain storms on both sides of us but moments after returning to the car after an hour and a half walk it did pour!! I finally got some much needed time on my driftwood projects and by the end of the day felt like something got done! We also decorated our driftwood Christmas Tree and did tons of cleaning as our guests will arrive on the 23rd. We got news this week that not only are we having guests for Christmas and New Years from the States but also our friend Nancy from Rapid City will be returning in January and our beloved Emily will arrive in February again, it will be weeks of non-stop fun!!
Here is another shot of the weird looking deep water Toadfish that was found by the sub months ago with the scientists from the Smithsonian.
Toadfish species are found in the family Batrachoididae in the order Batrachoidiformes. Toadfishes will typically inhabit sandy and muddy marine bottoms and are found in many different parts of the world. There are however a few toadfish species that live in freshwater, including Daector quadrizonatus that is found in the River Arato in Colombia, and Thalassophryne amazonica that is native to the River Amazon.
Shared characteristics among the toadfish species are the broad head and a drab coloration. Their resemblance to toads is what has given them their name. Toadfishes can also make a characteristic sound using their swim bladder. Most toadfish species are without scales. They have large heads with a large mouth, and the eyes are set high. The pelvic fins of the toadfish are forward of the pectoral fins, and are usually located under the gills.
That’s about it Amigo’s, have a wonderful day!!
Dec 12, 12 Comments Off on Deep Water Sea Shells, Collecting Shells with a Mini-Sub
Good morning friends, many have asked me lately about the tiny sea shells we are currently finding with the new deep water “Curasub” www.substation-curacao.com so like a good boy I took a few photos for you all yesterday. The shells are being found in discarded bottles of all shapes, sizes and colors and at all different depths. Lately the sub has been doing a lot of exploring at the 900 foot zone and the shells pictured in the second photo are the finds from the last few dives. Please don’t ask me any technical shell questions as I know nothing about them other than they are super cool and so beautiful! Many of the shells have a tiny hole in them where they were predated upon but other than the hole seem to be in very good condition. We also find a few with live hermit crabs still inside and those go to the deep water lab where they can roam freely in our collection of cold water aquariums. How are the bottles collected with the sub you ask?? Good question. We built a large “scooping basket” on the front of the sub which can hold a lot of items. When a bottle is found the pilot gently maneuvers the sub into position and “scoops it up”, any silt or sand goes through the screen and falls back onto the reef and just the bottles remain captured. There has been quite a bit of excitement over these shells as many of them are quite rare and seem to be very desired by collectors. My job this past week was going through all the tiny shells and first separating them into similar piles then photographing them one by one with a 105mm macro lens. Our next task will be to measure them and get them identified and finally affix a price to each one that way in the future we know right away which ones are most sought after. Once I get a bunch identified I will send out another photo of them photographed on a black background, they are really incredible when you see them up close!
I had a fun bike ride last night with Dorian, other than a crash due to way too much air in the front tire we had a great time. It’s now dark here at 6:00 which means we have zero time to play after work, meaning I have to get started on these rides much earlier if we are to get any riding in.
I have a sub dive at 11:00 so I need to get ready.
Have a great day, Barry
Dec 11, 12 Comments Off on Water Reflections, Colorful Reflections, Abstract Art
Good morning all, how are you all doing today?? I was reminded yesterday just how fast Christmas is approaching and let me tell you, I am not ready!! We are so looking forward to our guests from America and are busy getting the house cleaned and ready to go. We are also still getting the house decorated with lights and holiday spirit but soon we will just call it good and be done with it, one can go crazy with this colorful stuff!!
The sub brought up some new stuff yesterday and I will be in the lab today taking pictures of it, so stay tuned!!
I may be taking off tomorrow and Thursday to get my trail finished and get some of my driftwood projects completed, I am tired of just getting an hour done here and there.
I got my bike repaired over the past few days and will be riding with Dorian tonight after work, should be a great time! I heard Stijn placed 3rd in the Curacao Extreme race this past weekend, that was 40 miles of nastyness!!
Have a wonderful day, Barry
Dec 10, 12 Comments Off on Driftwood Christmas Tree, Driftwood Projects, Driftwood
Good morning from the Caribbean, how was your weekend?? I had such a busy weekend again, and yes, I know that’s nothing new!! On Saturday I left the house at 6:40am and took the dogs for a two and a half hour walk to the end of my Calabash trail sweeping and cleaning the whole way. Since I started the other trail (that still is not open) I have neglected all the others, they are so messed up with loose rocks and growing brush! Once back home and putting the dogs to bed I took off for another two hours of driving around doing countless errands that have been stacking up. During the day I finished my Driftwood Christmas Tree (above) and got some work done on a new driftwood food cart for a local restaurant. At 4:00 I left the house and headed over to Dorian’s house for a super fast mountain bike ride to Saint Joris and back and ended up getting a nice two hour ride in. By 6:30 I was wiped out and finally called it a day!!
On Sunday (yesterday) I again took off very early and went to the new trail and worked like a dog for three hours making some much needed progress! The good news, I can see the power line road off in the distance now and that is my finish line, maybe two more weeks and it will be open, I can hardly wait!! The dogs were absoluty beat by the time we got home at 11:00, they went straight to bed and never moved all day, I love that! During the afternoon I worked on my driftwood projects again and then took off to collect sea glass. Because of rough seas this weekend the sea glass collecting was amazing, I found a big aqua blue melted piece with red and orange chunks inside, it looks just like a hand blown fish aquarium, it’s really a super piece! In the evening I took my bike over to a friends for repair, I had around 5 spokes that had come loose and my brakes needed adjustment, need to keep my baby happy.
So the driftwood tree above is my newest project, it took us around a year to find and collect all the pieces needed and most came from Saint Joris bay. There are only four pieces of wood that are tied together at the base ALL the rest of the wood is just laying on each other, it’s like a giant JENGA game!!
Well, I have lots of tiny sea shells that we found in bottles to photograph today, and yes I promise to send those to you when I am finished!
Have a wonderful week, Barry
Dec 7, 12 Comments Off on Bottlenose Dolphins Underwater, Baby Dolphins, Dolphins
Good morning friends, all I have for you all today is a nice “togetherness photo” of a mother Bottlenose dolphin and her semi-newborn calf relaxing underwater. This may be another from Aimee but I am not sure, so many dolphin pictures so little time!!
Very little going on lately, Curacao is as quiet as I have ever seen meaning very few tourists! All the hotels and restaurants are running at half speed but we should all be busy soon with the Christmas crowd soon to arrive.
We did two runs with the sub yesterday, the first with clients and the second was down to 900 plus feet in search of new and exciting things. We have been picking up every glass bottle that we find and bringing them back to the surface as they are filled with beautiful shells. I have spent this whole week photographing these tiny beauties and will use the photos to build a database for the Substation so in the future we can easily identify these little shells.
We are still getting on and off rain and the island is green and lush!! I did a super fun bike ride with Dorian and his father last night and because of the recent rains the trails are looking real good. The down side is all the growing bush that grabs your arms and handlebars as you try to pass through it, I guess that’s part of the adventure.
Well gang, it was a fast week, I will be very busy this weekend building with driftwood and I will try to shoot our driftwood tree as well for you.
Have a wonderful weekend, Barry
Dec 6, 12 Comments Off on Boga-Bogas, Bonnetmouth, School-of-Fish, Curacao
Good morning folks, first off we have a great Christmas video sent in from my buddy Joe in Rapid City, SD, your gonna love this!!!
Our school of Boga’s is back in full strength with record numbers this year and seem to just love the area out in front of the Substation. Bonnetmouth or Bogas, have been there everyday since I started diving here two years ago!! The group or school has tripled in size over the past few months and everyday now I spend swimming amongst them and taking their photos before the sub come out. These fish are so calm with divers, you can slowly enter the school and they will then completely surround you and be just inches from you showing no alarm at all. These fish are around 5-9 inches in length and can be found in depths of 30-150 feet. I would love for some of my friends back home to be with me swimming thru this large school, it’s so cool to be surrounded by so many fish, I will try and shoot some video for you.
So why do fish swim in schools? It’s called the safety factor against predators. A potential predator hunting for a meal might become confused by the closely spaced school, which can give the impression of one vast and frightening fish. Additionally, there is the concept of safety in numbers”a predator cannot consume and unlimited quantity of prey. The sheer number of fish in a school allows species to hide behind each other, thus confusing a predator by the alteration of shapes and colors presented as the school swims along. Of course, those on the outside edges of the school are more likely to be eaten than those in the center. Predatory fish also gain from schooling because it gives them the ability to travel in large numbers in search of food. Also a very prevalent behavior, schooling is exhibited by almost 80 percent of the more than 20,000 known fish species during some phase of their life cycle. In many ways fish schools are much like herds of land animals or flocks of airborne birds. There is that undefined need to stay together. In some instances this herding has been the undoing of certain species, meaning if your all together your much easier to catch! I sure love my Boga’s, it’s a total blast to slowly swim thru the school and not be able to see anything around you except fish, you should try it!
Well Aimee is out walking the dogs and I need to be underwater with the sub and my Bogas in less than an hour so I got to go!!
Have a great day, Barry