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 May, 2013

May 24, 13     Comments Off on Karpata Bonaire, Purple Stove Pipe Sponges


May 23, 13     Comments Off on Blackbar Soldierfish, Myripristis jacobus, Squirrelfish
May 22, 13     Comments Off on Cereus repandus, Lady of the Night Cactus Flowers
May 21, 13     Comments Off on Disk Corals, Artichoke Coral, Scolymia cubensis

Hi friends, yet another crazy day in Curacao!! So this morning I got up and checked my e-mail at 6:00 and saw that a friend had sent photos of this insane cactus in his yard that bloomed late last night and had hundreds of giant white flowers!!! I quickly wrote back and asked if they were still there or if the show was over and within minutes he called and said get over here as fast as you can! I think I was there at 7:00 and was blown away by what I saw, I will send photos out soon after I find some information for you all. The cactus only blooms like this once a year and the flowers only last a few hours, you have to see it to believe it! I am going back tonight at 10:00 to hopefully get to see the last of the buds open so cross your fingers!

After that quick morning adventure I raced into work, grabbed my dive gear and camera and took off to meet the sub which was waiting for me underwater. I did a super fast photo shoot of our two guests from Holland and then once they took off I proceeded to search the reef for treasures. One of the coolest things I found other than these two solitary disk corals above was a monster sized mantis shrimp hiding deep in his hole. I have never seen a mantis this big, the hole he was in was about four inches wide, that’s a big shrimp and yes I will be going back to take photos.

The two disk corals above are called; Artichoke Coral or Scolymia cubensis. This animal is also known as a Solitary Disk coral, Smooth Disk coral, Doughnut coral, Flat Brain coral, Modern Meat coral, or just Meat coral, Atlantic Mushroom coral, and Tooth coral, talk about a animal with a whole lot of names! When I say Meaty Coral the meaty association is a reference to the polyps’ fleshiness and also to the common red coloration. This oral is found in the Atlantic waters in deeper habitats. They are solitary and grow up to four inches in diameter, and form a saucer shape. They have a smoother surface than S. lacera and is a solid green, red or brown with very little of any other colors. I believe this is a juvenile Artichoke coral because of the brownish/maroon ring on the outside, the adults are more one color. Underneath this beautiful green fleshy creature is a skeleton made entirely of calcium carbonate with it’s own unique designs and patterns. Other more popular Stony corals like Sheet corals, Brain corals, Star corals, Pillar corals and Finger corals just to name a few also have their own unique calcium carbonate skeletons underneath. These small, colorful corals generally inhabit deep reefs and walls but can be occasionally found shallower. They prefer shaded areas on rocky substrates and also grow in low-light conditions under ledge overhangs and in cave openings. During the night the polyp tentacles will emerge and the animal will feed by grabbing plankton and particles as they pass by.

The next two weeks will be on and off for me with the blog. We will be heading to Klein Curacao this Sunday for two days with the sub and then after that we head to Bonaire for five more days with the sub and the Scientists from the Smithsonian, so needless to say I will be very busy.

Sorry so short, I have to get moving!

Stay tuned for more, Barry

May 20, 13     Comments Off on Giant Green Moray EEL, Gymnothorax funebris

Hello everyone, I am so sorry for the super late post today but from the second I walked in to work  till now (it’s 5:00 pm) I was busy!! We started the day off with two sub dives with more  kids from Wilmington which is one of the main schools that visits here every year to do research projects on our house reef. The kids are super fun, we first had them all decorate styrofoam cups with colorful sharpies that we attach to the top of the sub which as most of you know shrink about half the size because of the depth we take the sub to. If we go down to 1000 feet a regular size styrofoam cup ends up shrinking to about one third the size!! They are like little shrunken heads and make great Christmas ornaments!! After my dives I started packing for our trip to Klein Curacao and Bonaire which will start this coming Sunday, it’s going to be a real crazy week! Tomorrow the scientists arrive from Smithsonian and we all can hardly wait, these are some of the greatest folks we have ever had the pleasure of working with!

So, how was your weekend out there??? I did a fast paced 40k mountain bike race yesterday in the hot Curacao sun and ended up in the top five. Stiyn did a 50k road race which started at the same time mine did and he was still riding when I returned, I think I was out there for around an hour and forty minutes. On Stiyn’s last lap he left everyone in the dust and did a fantastic finish winning yet another race, he had hundreds of fans going crazy at the finish line!!

I have a big, bad Green Moray eel for you all today, one of coolest creatures on the reef! Green moray eels, Gymnothorax funebris (Ranzani, 1839), aka black moray, green cong, green conger, green congo, green eel, and olive-green moray eel, are one of the most common and one of the largest of the moray eels. These eels average 1.8 m in length, but can grow up to 2.5 m long and weigh up to 29 kg. The dark green to brown color comes from a yellowish mucous that covers its blue skin to provide protection from parasites and infectious bacteria. Additionally, they are often camouflaged to hide in the reef from unsuspecting prey. Camouflage often extend into the mouth of the green moray which continually opens and closes slowly to move water over the gills for respiration. The large mouth features strong, pointed sharp teeth. The body is muscular with a long dorsal fin that extends down the length of the body starting from the head and ending in a short tail fin.

Green morays are nocturnal predators with poor eyesight that primarily use their sense of smell to hunt for fish, squid, octopuses, crabs and occasionally other eels. Green morays have been observed eating octopuses whole as well as tentacle by tentacle.

Due to its large size, the bites of this moray can be particularly dangerous, however unless provoked, this eel is not a threat to humans. Within their native range they are eaten by some indigenous peoples but the risk of contracting ciguatera poisoning from this species is considered great.

Again sorry so late, I have to go walk the dogs!! Have a great eveing, see you sometime tomorrow.




May 17, 13     Comments Off on Hawksbill Turtle, Endangered Species, Sea Turtles

It’s Friday gang!! I have a 40k mountain bike race on Sunday which starts at 2:00 in the afternoon and for those of you living here you know how stupid that is!! By 2:00 on most days here in Curacao it’s in the 100 degree range so that should be fun???

On yesterdays dive we came across this very majestic, very endangered, Hawksbill Turtle, Eretmochelys imbricata at around 85 feet out in front of the Substation on our very own reef. We have seen this guy quite a bit but I never have the right lens on my camera and for once I did. The hawksbill turtle grows to lengths of 3.5 feet long and weights of up to 180 pounds. Hawksbill turtles were named for the shape of their beak, which looks similar to the beak of a bird like an eagle, parrot or hawk just to name a few.

Recent studies showed that 95% of a hawksbill’s diet is made up of sponges. In the Caribbean, these turtles feed on more than 300 sponge species. This is an interesting food choice as sponges have a skeleton made of needle-shaped spicules (made of silica, which is glass, calcium or protein), which essentially means, a hawksbill’s stomach is filled with small glass shards. And although sponges are their favorite food they also eat sea squirts, soft corals, shellfish, sea-grasses and seaweeds.

A female Hawksbill turtle can travel up to 2400 kilometers (1500 miles) between feeding and breeding grounds. They only breed once every two to four years but during the breeding season they may nest up to six times, laying about 130 eggs in each clutch. The sex of the hatchlings depends on the temperature in the nest.

After hatching, the baby turtles swim out to sea for several days. They then spend the next five to ten years drifting around in surface waters at the mercy of ocean currents, and they feed mainly on plankton. They are often found in huge rafts of drifting sargassum, a type of brown seaweed, where they are probably best able to hide from potential predators. Once they reach lengths of 30 or 40 centimeters they settle in one particular area around coral or rocky reef.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, I have tons to as usual including going to another beach-cleanup at Caracas baai.

See you soon, Barry

May 16, 13     Comments Off on Peacock Flounder, Bothus lunatus, Flounders
May 15, 13     Comments Off on Golden Basslet, Liopropoma aberrans, Eyestripe Bass

I am off to the sea, we have two sub runs today!!

Have a wonderful day, Barry/www.coralreefphotos.com

May 14, 13     Comments Off on Longsnout Seahorse, Hippocampus reidi, Seahorse’s
May 13, 13     Comments Off on Trumpetfish, Aulostomus maculatus, Long Fish

Good morning from the Caribbean!! IF your like me, you just got to work and are just sitting there starring at your computer wondering why your head is spinning and asking yourself, “where did the weekend go”???? It’s like some cruel magic trick, you wait all week for your weekends and then “POOF” they are gone!! I was thinking, we as a human race need to implement a new work strategy, we will all work super hard on the weekends even overtime if needed and then we get the week off, tell me that doesn’t sound better!!

My weekend was of course crazy busy again and so much in fact I can hardly remember what I did on Saturday?? Yesterday, Sunday I left the house at 6:30 am on my mountain bike and did a very fast paced two and a half hour ride to the North coast and back, that’s around 35 miles. After that Stijn came over and we found two more different gecko’s in my yard for my “reptiles of Curacao” collection and took them to work to be photographed. After they were photographed we took them all the way back out to the desert and released them in a beautiful spot with lots of old wood. We then met a few friends at Substation and went on a fun reef dive, I spent the whole time just cleaning up the reef and not taking my camera for once. After the dive we worked in my yard getting it cleaned up and finally at 4:30 took the dogs out for a long two hour hike around the salt ponds, talk about a man who was wiped out when I got home!!! So tell me what you all did this weekend for once.

Here is a sleek Trumpetfish I found a few days ago and forgot to send it to you all. These fish are everywhere you look here in Curacao! They can be found in electric yellow, blue as you see above and even red, and I am still trying to get all the colors into one photo!! Trumpetfish, Aulostomus maculatus, are long bodied fish with upturned mouths, that often swim vertically while trying to blend with vertical coral, like sea rods, sea pens, and pipe sponges.

Trumpetfish occur in waters between 0.5 and 30 meters (1.6 and appr. 100 feet) deep and can grow to 40 to 80 cm (appr. 15 to 31+ inches) in length. They are sometimes locally abundant over coral atoll reefs or in lagoons, where they may be caught even in areas of severe wave action. The spawning habits of the trumpetfish are unknown, but in the region around Madeira, it is known that the females have mature eggs from March to JuneTrumpetfish are closely related to cornetfish. Trumpetfish can be a bit more than 36 inches (3 ft) long and have greatly elongated bodies with small jaws at the front end of a long, tubular snout. The gills are pectinate, resembling the teeth of a comb, and a soft dorsal fin is found near the tail fin. A series of spines occurs in front of the dorsal fin. Trumpetfish vary in color from dark brown to greenish but also yellow in some areas. A black streak, sometimes reduced to a dark spot, occurs along the jaw, and a pair of dark spots is sometimes found on the base of the tail fin.

Trumpetfish swim slowly, sneaking up on unsuspecting prey, or lying motionless like a floating stick, swaying back and forth with the wave action of the water. They are adept at camouflaging themselves and often swim in alignment with other larger fishes. They feed almost exclusively on small fish, such as wrasses and atheriniformes,by sucking them suddenly into their small mouths.

There is another fish similar to a Trumpetfish called a Cornetfish often mistaken for a trumpetfish. The key visible difference is the tail, pointed “T” in a cornetfish and rounded fan-shaped in a trumpetfish. In the years I have been here in Curacao I have only seen two cornetfish, they are so hard to find and very scared of their own shadows!!

Trumpetfish make up the genus Aulostomus of the family Aulostomidae.

Have a wonderful day folks, we have the film crew from “Wild About Animals” showing up here soon so I need to get ready!!!


May 10, 13     Comments Off on Coral Crab, Channel Clinging Crab, Mithrax spinosissimus
May 9, 13     Comments Off on Pillar Coral, Dendrogyra cylindricus, Stony Corals

We have a film crew here from Brazil this morning and we are taking them down in the sub in just a few minutes. I will be on the outside following them down to about 150 feet taking photos the whole way which means I have to get going!

Have a great day, Barry/www.coralreefphotos.com

May 8, 13     Comments Off on Sand Divers, Synodus intermedius, Lizardfishes

Good morning readers, how is your week treating you?? It’s been a busy week around here trying to get ready for all the scientists and film crews that will be arriving starting tomorrow and today we have groups and groups of American kids all here learning about the sub. I was so busy at home last night getting the house ready for it’s inspection this morning that I skipped my bike ride last evening but will make up for it tonight instead!!

So here’s two Lizardfish which are also called Sand Divers laying next to each other at around 70 feet doing what lizardfish do, remaining perfectly still! These are honestly some of the meanest, scariest, most aggressive hunters I have ever seen in the sea, very much like a barracuda! I can’t even tell you how many times I have watched a lizardfish ambush a poor unsuspecting fish and to say they are fast would be an understatement! I remember once in Bonaire I was laying on the sand at 20 feet in front of “1000 Steps” photographing this beautiful little fish in the sand. I had laid there for at least 15 minutes and never saw the lizardfish that was buried next to my arm and it was only inches away?? Well, you know where this is going, just as the little fish came out of it’s hole near the sand thinking I was safe, the lizardfish bursted out of the sand like a rocket and ate him in one gulp, it scarred me so bad I almost peed my wetsuit and my heart was pumping overtime! With that said it is now the fish on the front of my “coralreefphotos” business card. Sand Divers, Synodus intermedius can be exceptionally difficult to spot. I have watched an entire group of divers pass within two feet of a Sand Diver and fail to notice it. Sand divers are a type of lizardfish, and like chameleons, they are masters of disguise. A Sand Diver can pale to almost white, or darken to mimic a colorful reef or sponge.

Well, I am off to find the 5 baby squids that are under or around our floatting dock, I saw them yesterday so I know they are out there!

Have a great day, Barry

May 7, 13     Comments Off on Blue Tang Aggregations, Acanthurus coeruleus
May 6, 13     Comments Off on Yellow Goatfish, Mulloidichthys martinicus, Mullidae



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