ABOUT

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.

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Archive for April, 2013

Apr 29, 13     Comments Off on Caribbean Sharpnose Puffer, Canthigaster rostrata

PLEASE, PLEASE take the time to watch this insane video from National Geo, it’s about a Horse Conch and Hermit Crabs, talk about insane footage!! www.youtube.com/watch?v=ExV4b77qfww&feature=player_embedded

Have a great day, tomorrow is “Queens Day” here in Curacao and in the Netherlands so I am off, will try to get a blog posted but it won’t be early as we are doing an underwater reef cleanup at 9:00am.

See-ya, Barry/www.coralreefphotos.com

Apr 26, 13     Comments Off on Gorgonians, Octocorals, Knobby Sea Rod, Polyps
Apr 25, 13     Comments Off on Sunray Lettuce Coral, Helioceris cucullata, Corals
Apr 24, 13     Comments Off on Juvenile Spanish Hogfish, Bodianus rufus, Cleaner Fish
Apr 23, 13     Comments Off on Ridged Cactus Coral, Mycetophyllia lamarckiana

Good morning friends, I found a giant Ridged Cactus Coral, Mycetophyllia lamarckiana and thought it would be a perfect subject for today’s blog. This beautiful 12 inch wide specimen was found at around 60 feet and really blended in with the rest of the reef. I consider these fleshy corals to be some of the most spectacular corals on the reef but also some of the most over-looked, maybe because they do blend in so well. Cactus corals form flat plates, mounds and hemispherical domes with a peripheral ridge that frequently grows inward; there may also be independent ridges. Ridge patterns and the height and depth of valleys vary according to local environmental conditions. Ridges and valleys usually consist of contrasting colors and shades which are commonly found in shades of green, brown or grey. Colonies and especially ridges may appear fleshy and tentacles extend only from the ridges. Here in Curacao these corals tend to inhabit shaded areas of shallow to moderately deep reefs and can be found down to 190 feet. Colonies without formed ridges in the colonies “center area” were previously classified as a separate species named Lowridge cactus coral, M. daniana. Many scientists believe these are only young colonies that have not yet formed independent  ridges or simply a growth form and should be classified as a single species.

These are Stony Corals even though in the photo the animal appears to be very soft. Stony corals, often called hard corals, are the basic building blocks of tropical coral reefs. These animals (polyps) secrete calcium carbonate to form hard cups, called corallites, that provide protection for their soft delicate bodies. In tropical waters most species grow colonially, joining their corallites to produce a substantial structure. Colonies increase in size by asexual budding of additional polyps and successive generations overgrowing one another.

Good News, we finally got rain!!!!!!! Ok, it wasn’t a lot but it helped and we are all very thankful!

I just came back from guiding a group of friends from NASA on a fun reef dive and doing a little photo-shoot of shorts with them. On the dive we saw a monster sized Lionfish that we may have to go back for, I honestly never saw one that big!

Have a great day, sorry about the lateness of the blog, busy day!

Barry/www.coralreefphotos.com

Apr 22, 13     Comments Off on Diamond Pipefish, Pipefishes, Syngnathidae

Good morning from a little desert island in the Caribbean called Curacao!! I say desert because it’s quickly turning into one and there seems to be no rain in sight!! Just a month and a half ago it was nice and green here but now almost everything in the bush has gone dormant and looks like a stick forest, not a pretty sight! Stijn helped me build another big water station for the birds and we carried that out to the desert on Saturday which will help these poor animals out a lot but will need to be filled everyday.

So today I have a super cool, unidentified, Diamond Pipefish for your viewing pleasure. I found this 8 inch beauty about a week ago in our private submarine lagoon and have been watching him everyday since. From what I have read this is an unidentified species of Pipefish and he’s found a home right in our back-yard, I mean how cool is that?? In the second photo you can really see his diamond markings and kind of make out the bands on his or her snout. This Pipefish is living in 15 feet of water in a pile of junk. And by that I mean there are soda straws, zip ties, string, and old pieces of palm leaves and sea-weeds all around him, he really blends in. There are over 20 species of Pipefish in the Caribbean area. because they are so secretive and adept at camouflage, pipefishes are rarely ever observed by divers! Most are difficult, if not impossible, to identify underwater because of similar shapes and variability of color and markings. Positive identification usually requires collection to count fin rays, body rings and examination of other anatomical features like the cool fan-like tail this one has, it even has little claw-like hooks at the ends. Pipefish are related to Seahorse’s and both have trumpet-like snouts and small mouths. Their bodies are encased in protective bony rings which are quite apparent. Unlike Seahorse’s who are vertically challenged and have a cocked head the snake-like Pipefish is more elongated with a head that extends straight out from their bodies and have small tail fins. Seahorse’s are pretty slow swimmers but the Pipefish can move quick if it has to, it’s like a little underwater dart! It’s sad that most divers will never see one of these spectacular creatures and their swimming right over them all the time.

I had a very fast weekend starting out with a three hour mountain bike ride on Saturday, then dinner with Stijn’s family and Sunday was filled with building a roof over the big pile of driftwood, it went by so fast!

Well, I am headed out to check on the Pipefish and squids, have a wonderful day!

See ya, Barry/www.coralreefphotos.com

Apr 19, 13     Comments Off on Damselfish Garden, Reef Damage Caused by Fish
Apr 18, 13     Comments Off on Caribbean Reef Squids, Baby, Juvenile Reef Squids

The basic coloring of a Caribbean reef squid is a mottled medium green to brown on the dorsal side with lighter coloring on the ventral side for camouflage from predators swimming below. These animals are social creatures often found in small groups that communicate through a variety of complex signals. Both cuttlefish and squid communicate by controlling the pigment in their skin. Messages such as readiness to mate, sexual identification, and alarm are flashed through various colorful spots, blotches, and background color. To signal slight alarm, their brow ridges turn bright gold and the central arms turn white. The entire body will pale if the squid retreats from its potential predator and in open water when faced with an extremely aggressive predator, reef squid will obstruct themselves and confuse the predator by ejecting a cloud of black ink. Retreating squid near the protection of the reef will often turn dark brown or reddish in color to match their surroundings.

All is well here, still no rain but clouds are around so maybe we will get some moisture soon?? I will be in the water at 11:00 shooting the submarine underwater and then I want to go back to find the baby squids again they are just too cool!

I have a winning photo posted today at;  http://www.nanpa.org/

Have a wonderful day, Barry

Apr 17, 13     Comments Off on Blue Chromis, Chromis cyanea, Damselfishes
Apr 16, 13     Comments Off on Fairy Basslet, Gramma Loreto, Royal Gramma, Basslets
Apr 15, 13     Comments Off on Yellowhead Wrasse, Halichoeres garnoti, Wrasses
Apr 12, 13     Comments Off on Curacao, Bicolor Damselfish, Stegastes partitus

Good morning friends, it’s finally Friday!! I have for you today the hands down #1 most common reef fish in Curacao called a Bicolor Damselfish or for you scientists out there, Stegastes partitus, yeah say that 10 times real fast! These small Damselfish cover our reefs here and honestly can be found just about anywhere from the 20-80 foot zone. One of the cool things about this fish is all the different color variations it can be found in. For instance; in St. Lucia this same fish is half grayish-blue and white with a black tail and orange spot near it’s pec fins, in Barbados it’s all black with a white patch near the tail, in Roatan it’s cream colored with a black tail and orange spot near the pecs and in the Caymans this fish is almost all black or a dark gray. Here in Curacao we have three main colors, first, is the one you see above, notice the beautiful electric blue lines on the outside of the front and rear pec fins, it’s really a beautiful little fish. Second, this fish can be found with a half black and half white body and a faint colored orange pec fin. And third we have one here that is almost all black with faint blue outlines on the pec fins. There is also a half cream and white colored one with a dark tail but those are very rare! For a fish that is so small, maximum 4-inches, they are unbelievably aggressive, especially if it’s a male guarding eggs!! I can’t even tell you how many times I have been chased off or bitten by territorial Damselfish, they seem to have no fear at all! Because these fish are so aggressive most “would be” predators avoid them at all cost and as divers we see this happen all the time. Someone asked me if Lionfish eat these fish and I told them I have personally never seen it, I think the damselfish are too smart and to aggressive for Lionfish but I could be wrong.

Still no rain here on our little Caribbean island, it is crazy dry and quickly turning back into an all out cactus desert!! I did go for a short mountain bike ride last night but with the strong winds and 85 degree temps it was a bit of a challenge!

Well, they are still working on the submarine’s floating dock, it should be back in the water by Sunday and by next week we should be back down exploring the depths. Our submersible website is www.substation-curacao.com for those of you asking. We also have a live camera on the reef that you can see at www.seesubmarine.com this camera sits at 50 feet.

Have a great weekend, see you Monday!!

Barry/www.coralreefphotos.com

Apr 11, 13     Comments Off on Blue-Green Bacteria, Cyanobacteria, Hydrocoleum
Apr 10, 13     Comments Off on Porcupinefish, Giant Pufferfish, Boxfishes

The daily blog is now being posted  http://www.reefs.com  This new site will soon be one of your favorite links as it’s filled with so much cool information on anything to do with our seas, so please pass this information on to others!!

That’s about it, life is pretty quiet right now but bound to pick up soon!

Have a wonderful day!!

Barry


Apr 9, 13     Comments Off on Sea-bass, Rockhind Sea-bass, Small Groupers

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