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.

General

Archive for July, 2013

Jul 31, 13     Comments Off on Juvenile Lizardfish, Fish That Change Colors

Hi friends, sorry about the late start but here we go!! So what I have for you today is three pictures showing the amazing way fish can change colors. Yeah I know it sounds weird, fish changing colors??  But it’s so true and it’s such a cool thing to see. Most of you already know that octopus and squids have the ability to change colors in the blink of an eye but many folks don’t know that fish are capable of the same thing. Above is a baby lizardfish, around two inches in length I found laying on the sand at around 40 feet and as you can see he is a fairly light color. These fish believe they are well camouflaged and think you can not see them, this is why they will remain motionless unless disturbed and why a photographer can get in very close. With that said, the second I took the photo he blasted off like a rocket in a cloud of sandy dust as my double-flashes scared him to death! I then had to look for him all over again which wasn’t an easy task as he had moved about three feet away from his initial spot. Once I found him the second time I again moved in very slowly for the kill and again once the flashes fired he was gone and this time went much farther away and was even harder to find again. Each time he moved and stopped he got darker and darker, it’s such a cool thing that fish can do! I mean heck it takes days or even weeks for us to get a tan but these animals change colors in just seconds! So once I found him for the third time I knew the trust factor was gone and this last shot was going to be hard and I was right. No sooner did I shoot the last photo and he just vanished!! I looked and looked but apparently he had enough and wasn’t going to let me scare him a 4th time with my flashes. Many times on the reef you will see these fish laying in the sand and they are even a lighter color then the top photo, they really can blend in! These are also some of the top predators on our reef and can move at speeds other fish just dream about, it’s a case of, “now you see the lizardfish, now you don’t”!! 

Had another great mountain bike ride last night with our sub pilot Bruce who recently got his bike stolen but found enough parts to build an even better one. There is a time-trial here on Thursday that I might enter, it’s one lap of the worst, most difficult, technical riding we have, it’s just what I love!!

Better get moving, see you soon, Barry

Jul 30, 13     Comments Off on Coral Reef Scene/Photo, Caribbean Coral Reef

Hello from a little place called Curacao. I have a beautiful reef scene for you all today that was shot a few years ago right here on our Sea Aquarium house reef before our good friend tropical storm OMAR came to visit. I will have to go back and try to find this same spot and take a more recent photo for you but I don’t think it has changed too much being that this was taken at 60 feet. I do remember after OMAR passed, I went diving the next day and the reef looked horrible especially in the 0-30 foot range with the fire and finger corals taking the biggest hit! I had a camera with me on that dive but the visibility was so bad because of all the sand and runoff into the ocean after the storm that I was unable to take many shots and if I remember correctly it took weeks before the water cleared up. Now years later and after many different storms the shallow reefs around the Caribbean are pretty much gone which leaves very little for snorkelers to see in the way of corals or soft corals. I’ve had so many visitors ask me, “well, won’t they grow back fairly quickly”?? Unfortunately, NO is always my answer. Unlike fire that can actually help with new growth in a forest, corals will take forever to grow back!!

I had a nice bike ride with some old friends out at Saint Joris last night and ended up not getting home till late. This morning we have a sub dive at 11:15 and you may be able to see it at www.seasubmarine.com  This is our live web cam that lives at around 50 feet and is protected by a mean damselfish and now home to a trumpetfish, tune in and you may see them or me.

Gotta go, be back soon, Barry

Jul 29, 13     Comments Off on Touch-Me-Not-Sponge, Neofibularia nolitangere

Good morning friends, did you have a nice weekend? I had a question regarding poisonous sponges and to my knowledge this “touch-me-not-sponge”, Neofibularia nolitangere (above) is about the worst we have to offer in the Caribbean. Neofibularia nolitangere is a massive sponge often growing to about 30 centimetres (12 in) wide and 30 centimetres tall but sometimes reaching 1 meter (3 ft 3 in) in width. It has a central cavity or atrium with thick walls. It takes various forms in different areas of the Caribbean. In the Bahamas it usually occurs as a number of rounded lobes with a cup-shaped depression or cloaca on the apex of each. In these are several openings called osculi that slope diagonally to join the atrium and out of which water is propelled. Sometimes the sponge is encrusting, forming a shallow layer of tissue growing across the substrate. In other locations it grows as several concentric mounds with smaller cloacal openings or as large vase-type structures, single or in groups, sometimes fused together laterally. The general colour is deep brown or dark red. The inside surfaces of the cloaca are rougher than the outer surface of the sponge which is smooth but not shiny. The consistency of this sponge is compressible, fragile and crumbly, but handling it is unwise as it causes a smarting sensation and numbness of the skin. Repeated exposure to it can cause a more severe allergic reaction.

If you look down inside the sponge you will see thousands of Parasitic polychaete worms, Haplosyllis spongicola, which look like small white shapes protruding from the inner cloaca walls. There may be tens of thousands of worms living in an individual sponge and they are sometimes so abundant that they make up five percent of its weight. Several species of fish are associated with this sponge. These include the gobies Elacatinus horsti and Elacatinus chancei which live inside its apertures and largely feed on the worm.

So the BIG NEWS of the day is; drum roll please, Stijn won GOLD for Curacao over the weekend in the Caribbean Championships that were held in Aruba!! He first won Gold in Saturdays time-trial and then again on Sunday which was the big race. I believe his family and fans are at the airport right now, Monday morning greeting him as he arrives back to Curacao, we are all very proud of him!! For those of you who haven’t met Stijn, he is a 16 year old local boy with legs of steel, you can see some of his photos on my HOME page under the “Adventures of Stijn”.

I had a very busy weekend. We first took our Curacao Prime Minister down in the sub Saturday morning and then I took the dogs out for a real long walk!! Oh yeah, Saturday morning we also got hit with one of the hardest rains of the year, it was short but sweet!! On Sunday morning I did a muddy two hour bike ride but was a bit off my game, maybe too much diving and running around?? The rest of Sunday was spent over at Stijns getting his room re-built and ready for painting this week, we even made him two glass shelves for all his trophies!

I am running late, have a great day, Barry

Jul 26, 13     Comments Off on Porcupinefish, Giant Pufferfish, Boxfishes

Good morning Earth people, it’s finally Friday!!! I pretty much wore myself out yesterday with two deep dives and a mountain bike ride in the evening, biking and diving do not mix!! Stijn leaves tonight for the island of Aruba where he will be representing Curacao in the Caribbean Cycling Championships! He will have a time trial on saturday and the big race on Sunday, he is gonna kick some butts!

This is my pet porcupinefish of sorts that lives out in front of the Substation and is always there to greet me with a smile as I enter the reef on any given day!!

Porcupine fish are part of a family of fish that are called Diodontidae, and are quite often more commonly called the puffer-fish, or the blow fish. They are not in reality puffer-fish, but are related to them. The Porcupine fish sports on its body a wide array of spines that stand erect when the fish inflates and are very often mistaken for puffer-fish. The Porcupine fish has the unique ability of being a fish that can blow up their bodies, or inflate them. They do this by swallowing air or water and will become literally as rounds as a basket ball. The porcupine fish can enlarge himself almost double the size that he was. Scientists think this is another method of self defense for the porcupine fish. He does this to lower the predators who can prey on him to about half what they normally would be if he did not have this ability. His second and probably best defense is that he bears many rows of very sharp spines, and when the porcupine fish blows himself up to full volume, they become erect, and stand straight up and out. Some species of Porcupine fish also bear a venom, or poison that is emitted from the spines. They have what is called a Tetrodoxin within the skin as well as or in addition to in their intestines which means you take your life into your own hands if you want to eat one and preparation should only be done by an expert. As a result of their great methods of self defense the porcupine fish has very few predators that will take them for food. Adult porcupine fish are sometimes a meal for larger fish such as the shark and the Orca, or whale, although this is only rare in occurrence. The younger or juvenile porcupine fish may sometimes be taken and eaten by larger tuna or by dolphins.

A few of my photos of our sub are on the front page of a newspaper in Holland this morning called the “de Volkskrant” (this means “the peoples paper”), you can see the photos above.

Have a great day and a wonderful weekend, Barry

Jul 25, 13     Comments Off on Caribbean Coral Reef Scene, Diving in Curacao

Good morning all, I have another colorful reef scene for you all today. This is my favorite underwater model Aimee posing above a beautiful cluster of sponges at a dive site called the Mushroom Forest. The tall purple  sponges are called stove-pipe sponges, Aplysina archeri and the thing that looks like Medusa’s hair at the base is a giant Caribbean sea anemone, Condylactis gigantea. The bottom brown sponge is a giant cluster of brown encrusting octopus sponges, Ectyoplasia ferox which really lights up to an almost orange color when hit with man made light. This photo was taken years ago back when Mushroom Forest was a wonderful, beautiful reef, you don’t want to see it now!! Because of over fishing, storms like Omar, major runoff into the sea, warm seas and on and on this once beautiful dive site is now an algae infested lionfish den and most of the famous star coral mushroom mountains are gone!! I honestly don’t know why dive companies continue to take people here, they need to leave that place alone for a year or more and pray it comes back. Many folks ask me every day “where is the best place to dive” or where is the best place to go snorkeling”?? Want the best diving in Curacao?? Then call the guys at DIVE CHARTER CURACAO, www.divechartercuracao.com and tell them I sent you. They will take you by boat to the best, unspoiled diving in Curacao which is on our wild North and East coast. If your looking for the best shore diving, then you need to contact the folks at “THE DIVE BUS”, www.the-dive-bus.com and again tell them I sent you. For snorkeling  take the family to Playa Porto Mari, www.playaportomari.com  it’s calm, clear and they have great food plus rentals and plenty of sand, it’s about the best we have here.

Well, we have a busy day on tap at Substation, I need to sign off and get my camera equipment ready to go!

Have a wonderful day. Barry

Jul 24, 13     Comments Off on Curacao Reef Scene, Pillar Corals, Scrawled Filefish

Good morning one and all, it’s time to rock and roll!! I have a beautiful underwater scene for you all today from our own reef called “Shipwreck Point” or better known as the “Sea Aquarium house reef”. The odd looking formations in the front and back are called pillar corals, Dendrogyra cylindricus and are truly one of the most beautiful corals in the Caribbean. The long, weird looking fish at the bottom half of the photo is called a scrawled filefish, Aluterus scriptus and the little yellow and blue fish is called a bluehead wrasse or Thalassoma bifasciatum. This area you see here is really one of the best spots on our reef to find just about anything, there is so much going on at any given time of the day and it’s a blast at night!

I had a fast and furious hour and a half bike ride last night over on my new trails at Jan Thiel. The trail I finished a few months ago with the bridges and berms in every corner has turned out to be the most popular trails in the area and is really getting a lot of use! The downside to riding in the evening here is not only the heat but it gets dark at 7:00, so you really don’t have much time to play outside here after work. 

I have a lot to do today, hope all is well out there, stay tuned for more. 

Barry

Jul 23, 13     Comments Off on Lobster Photos, Spotted Spiny Lobster, Panulirus guttatus

Good morning mates, how is the World treating you??? After my crazy weekend and a Monday full of diving, I went straight home yesterday and called it quits!! Today is fairly quiet with no sub dives so I will be hitting the water soon to go collect some food for our deep-sea crabs and other invertebrates like algae  covered rocks and small sponges. Tonight is one of my three ride nights so if all goes well I will be racing around the dusty wilds of Curacao starting at around 5:00, feel free to join!

IBy request I have a little Spotted Spiny Lobster, Panulirus guttatus for your viewing pleasure today. On any given night you can easily find these crawling around the reef in search of food and are always a big hit with divers. This one here was nestled in a colony of beautiful orange cup coral and as you can see if the corals are disturbed they will close but will reopen within minutes.

Unlike the true, or clawed, lobsters, spiny lobsters have long, thick, spiny antennae and lack large pinching claws. The Spotted Spiny Lobster (Panulirus guttatus) occurs from Bermuda to Suriname, with populations in southeastern Florida, in the Bahamas, and throughout the Caribbean Sea. Unlike the Caribbean Spiny Lobster (Panulirus argus), which has a largely overlapping distribution, P. guttatus is of limited commercial interest throughout most of its range. On some islands, however, it contributes significantly to satisfying the demand for luxury seafood.

Panulirus guttatus is an obligate reef-dweller, rarely leaving the confines of the reef, and found especially on the fore reef. Several early studies of P. guttatus in Florida investigated the sex ratio, size distribution, and reproductive seasonality of a population living at man-made jetties near Miami Beach. Based on data from their study in the Florida Keys, Sharp et al. (1997) concluded that an individual P. guttatus spends its entire benthic life on a small portion of the fore reef, perhaps even on a single spur. Panulirus guttatus adults forage on the reef at night. They spend the day in dens that extend deep into the reef. There is some indication that males may guard den entrances to protect harems of females from other males. This behaviour has been observed in P. argus both in the laboratory and in the field. The sheltering requirements of P. guttatus appear to be much more specific than those of P. argus. This restriction of acceptable shelter characteristics for P. guttatus may be the primary factor controlling the abundance of this obligate reef-dweller.

Have a great day, Barry

Jul 22, 13     Comments Off on Blue Tang Aggression, School of Fish, Surgeonfish

Good morning friends, I want to apologize again for the poor lack of communication as of late but I have been sooooo busy!! Yesterday I left the house at 6:20 in the morning and got in a nice fast-paced three hour mountain bike ride to our scenic North coast and back. After that I went shopping, then Stijn and I went diving, then we went to the beach and at 4:30 left with the dogs for another three hour adventure which included hiking and trail work. So to say I get the most out of every day here would be an understatement!! On Saturday I met a local artist and photographed a collection of wine bottles that had been painted by her students, your gonna love this fun shot! I am still waiting to photograph the kids painting the bottles which will take place place in two weeks, after that I will send you the story and pictures. During my free time, (yeah, that is funny) I have been diving and for the first time ever shooting video. I started out shooting with a 16mm lens and a small video light but the light didn’t show up at all so all my video’s are kind of one color tone, which I am not real fond of. On my second and third dive I used a 24mm lens but again the light didn’t light up anything so it’s back to square one?? Anyone out there know about how much light it will take to shoot wide angle scenes?? I am guessing a lot and a lot of $$$$$! What I did shoot is cool it just lacks the beautiful colors. On my Sunday dive with Stiyn we found a big hawksbill turtle and followed him for about a minute shooting video until he took off to the surface for air. Then later towards the end of the dive we found a big school of Caribbean reef squids but trying to get close to them is close to impossible but what a sight to see!!

Here is a colorful photo of a big school of Blue Tangs cruising through the reef. We see these large groups called “aggregations” on the reef here every single day and I still never seem to get tired of it, they are just so beautiful. Adult blue tangs have three social modes: territorial, wandering, and schooling. Territorial adults defend their home rage from other members of the species. Schooling adults are not aggressive. Wanderer adults are not aggressive nor do they interact with other individuals like schooling fish do. Wanderers are mostly chased by other fish including Ocean surgeonfish and damselfishes. Occasionally, Blue Tangs form large multi-species aggregations with other surgeonfishes as seen above.

Blue tangs may benefit from forming schools for two reasons. First, individuals may experience lower rates of predation when feeding in large groups. Second, by feeding in groups, fish might be able to work together to overcome the territorial defenses of other fishes. For example, a single blue tang is easily chased away by an aggressive damselfish defending its territory. However, when a large school of blue tangs and their schoolmates try to feed on algae in a damselfish’s territory, there is little that the damselfish can do. When this occurs, the damselfish frantically, but ultimately fruitlessly, attempts to chase away their more numerous attackers while the school consumes all of the algae in their territories.

Blue tangs are active during the day, hiding in crevices on the reef at night to avoid predators.

Juvenile blue tangs are solitary and occupy home ranges that increase with body size. Juveniles aggressively defend their home ranges from juvenile ocean surgeonfish. Juveniles also avoid damselfishes that overlap in range with them.

Busy Monday here today with lots of diving!!

Barry

Jul 17, 13     Comments Off on Curacao Caribbean Flamingo’s, Caribbean Flamingo’s,

Good morning all, by request I have a bunch of Caribbean flamingos for you all today which live about a mile from our house in an area we call the Jan Thiel salt-ponds. I shot this photo in a giant panoramic and it came out beautiful, I think I stitched 6 photos together as there were so many birds!!

Every time I see these birds it really puts in perspective where we are living and how lucky we are to be able to see such sights on a daily basis. The local people of Curacao call these birds Chogogo and in Dutch it’s Caribische Flamingo. Our Curacao Flamingo’s are actually a deeper reddish orange version of the African Greater flamingo. Baby flamingo’s are born as grey chicks and have grey and brown plumage with only traces of pink. The beta-carotene in their diets which comes mostly from algae and shrimps gives their feathers that famous pink or orange color. They eat by dipping their beak upside down into mud and water and then filtering out the mud and water until just the food is left. Flamingos and pigeons feed their young a milk-like substance that is formed in their digestive tract. Flamingos have good hearing but basically no sense of smell and like other birds can’t taste things very well. When flying as a flock, flamingos will fly at up to 37 mph (60 km) and they’ve been witnessed traveling over 300 miles (500 km) a night. Flamingos may group together by the thousands. In Africa, more than a million lesser flamingos (a species of flamingo – not a “lesser” animal) will group together in one place! This is the biggest flock of birds anywhere. For centuries Bonaire has been the principal breeding site for the Flamingo population in this area which is currently estimated at around 20,000 birds, that’s pretty incredible!

So yesterday, minutes before going on a dive with visiting friends and my wife I accidentally dropped a loose, 4 pound lead weight on my foot and busted up my big toe!! Needless to say I couldn’t go diving and instead rushed to get ice, I then spent the next two hours with my foot in the air and wondering how I get myself into these situations??? Today, after a lot of ice it is much better and I have to be underwater at 11:00 with the sub, my Wyoming friends would just say; “Cowboy Up”!! 

Have a great day, Barry

Jul 16, 13     Comments Off on Scrawled Filefish, Aluterus scriptus, Filefishes

Hello gang, we are starting our Curacao Wednesday off with overcast skies and high winds which could interfere with our planned 1:00 dive. I did post a sad, “last photo” of how the grooved brain coral looks out on the reef today, dead as dead gets, here is the link, Coral Bleaching, Before and After Photos, Brain Coral (it’s the last photo). 

Here is one of the hands down coolest and most sleek looking fish on the reef, it’s called the Scrawled Filefish or Aluterus scriptus. There are approximately 107 species of filefish found in the Atlantic, Pacific and the Indian Ocean, each very unique in it’s own way. The Scrawled Filefish seen here is the largest of all the know filefish species which can reach a length of 110 centimeters while most others are below 60 centimeters in length. The small terminal mouths of filefish have specialized incisor teeth on the upper and lower jaw; in the upper jaw there are four teeth in the inner series and six in the outer series; in the lower jaw, there are 4-6 in an outer series only. The snout is tapered and projecting; eyes are located high on the head. Although scaled, some filefish have such small scales as to appear scaleless. Like the triggerfish, filefish have small gill openings and greatly elongated pelvic bones creating a “dewlap” of skin running between the bone’s sharply keeled termination and the belly. The pelvis is articulated with other bones of the “pelvic girdle” and is capable of moving upwards and downwards in many species to form a large dewlap (this is used to make the fish appear much deeper in the body than is actually the case). Some filefish erect the dorsal spine and pelvis simultaneously to make it more difficult for a predator to remove the fish from a cave. I found this guy out on our reef the other day after shooting the sub and within seconds I was in hot pursuit. I find these fish are either very curious or they don’t want anything at all to do with you and like this one here, it was “catch me if you can humanoid”!!

I had an interesting mountain bike ride last night that started out with just wanting to go back home but then turned into an all out race!! It’s safe to say that if you build the trails you have an unfair advantage and boy oh boy what an advantage it was, I came home with a smile glued to my face! 

I have to get ready to lead a reef dive with some friends that are visiting from the States and Holland, have a great day!!

I’m out, Barry

Jul 16, 13     Comments Off on Deep Sea Hermit Crabs, Substation Curacao

Hi friends, I have something super cool for you today that researchers found deep below the waters surface on the island of Klein Curacao. As the story goes the sub was down exploring the reef at 700 feet in search of new sponges when they came across a large rock that looked like it was being drug around in the sand, but by what?? As they moved in closer and turned the rock with the robotic claw they immediately noticed the rock was home to some new, unknown species of hermit crab, I mean really how cool is this?? The rock was about 5 inches in height which is amazing considering this crab has to drag it and carry that thing everywhere, this is why I love hermits so much!! Many times on the reef I find hermit crabs that have been eaten because of the weak shells they had chosen but this guy won’t have to worry about anything breaking into his house, it’s solid rock! When I do get a name I will update the post and give you a heads up so keep tuning in.

A week ago I posted a blog about coral bleaching showing you four photos of before and after but I never sent you the photo of what it looks like today. So like a good photographer, I am headed out to the sea right now to do just that. I will update that post and put it as the last photo, it should be there later today or this evening, make sure to check it out because your not going to believe it!

Hope all is well out there, I have a bike ride tonight and can hardly wait!

See you soon, Barry

Jul 15, 13     Comments Off on Honeycomb Cowfish, Boxfishes, Odd Shaped Fish

Hi gang, our photo tonight is of a Honeycomb Cowfish, Acanthostracion polygonia just peacefully hanging out on the reef. These odd looking fish can change to shades of blue to green and yellow in a matter of seconds depending on their mood. If they feel they are in danger or if you move into their territory while they are courting they will change into this crazy electric blue-purple color, inflate their bodies and fins and race at full speed all around you, it’s such a crazy sight. These fish are easily identified by their two sharp spines above each eye and in front of the anal fin. These fish usually rely on their camouflage to blend into the reef but really, what kind of fish would mess with them anyways?? Most of the time they are extremely wary and remain motionless but when aware of detection quickly retreat. I have observed them eating algae from the sides of rocks or dead corals and occasionally we see them blowing air into the sand to uncover other little morsels of food like little crabs and such. At night is the best time to photograph these animals as they are either fast asleep or just waiting out the night in some very protected area.

So how was your Monday???? Mine started out with a fun reef dive in search of a certain crinoid I had seen days ago which I did find, but ended up spending most of my time parked in front of a giant sea-fan instead. I was passing this sea-fan when something very small moved and caught my eye. As I looked closer it was a tiny slender filefish that you would have never seen if it hadn’t moved and it was exactly the same color as the sea-fan, talk about cool! While shooting the filefish another tiny something moved and with closer examination I discovered it was some kind of see-thru goby or blenny and with this find ended up staying till my air was gone!

That’s all I have for today, it’s late and time for bed!

See you soon, Barry

Jul 11, 13     Comments Off on Balloonfish, Pufferfish, Fish with Cute Faces

Hey, hey, remember me?? Sorry that I didn’t get around to posting on Friday but I ended up taking the day off and getting some much needed work done on my “honey do list”, and we all know the list I’m talking about! So before getting to work I first took the dogs out to Saint Joris for a fun two hour walk and of course I threw in a little trail maintenance while I was out there. On the way home we stopped and picked up Stijn who had just gotten back from a 10 day cruise around the Caribbean with his family and couldn’t stop talking about all the food that was aboard the ship, he said it was non-stop eating!! Once home we put the dogs to bed and proceeded to hang all the pictures that had been sitting in a big box waiting to be hung which took us about 6 hours as the walls here are all concrete!! At 5:00 I took off on a very hot, very dusty, hour and a half ride through the Curacao wilds, it was fun but very exhausting. So that was pretty much my Friday.

Saturday morning I went into work and later in the day went over to Stijn’s house where we have our driftwood pile stashed and pulled out a bunch of wood to build a new shelf unit for our bathroom. While there I couldn’t help but notice the yard was filled with rotting mangos and the smell was not nice!! This is mango season here now and they are literally covering the ground everywhere you look, one can only eat so many mangos!! Today we brought buckets of them back to my house and dumped them into the desert near our house for the iguanas, rabbits, lizards and birds, nothing will go to waste!

Today, Sunday, I left the house at 6:00am for my weekly 3 hour ride but 25 minutes into it had a major blow-out from an old rear tire and was covered in latex! I immediately called Aimee and she came to my rescue, I only had to walk about a mile to meet her. Later, I went and picked up Stijn again and we ended up working on my stupid bike for hours. The main problem was the new DT skewer was frozen inside the hub covered in salt and corrosion!! This is by far the worst thing about living in salt air and riding around and along the coast all the time, nothing escapes corrosion! We took the bike over to a top mechanic and he had to use a sledge hammer to get the skewer out??? Yeah, my poor bike! After all day of fighting with it and getting a new tire and new latex in I was ready to go and at 4:20 took off for a fast paced 2 hour ride around the salt pans and the bike worked great!

Above is a super cute Balloonfish, Diodon holocnthus that I found the other day on our Substation reef and just had to stop for a photo. These fish have so many different facial expressions, some look super grumpy or mean while others look lost or almost sad but my favorites like this here, have a beautiful smile!! Puffers have the unique ability to draw in water to greatly inflate their bodies as a defense. They have fused teeth and powerful jaws which are used to crush hard-shelled invertebrates. The skin of pufferfishes can be rough, granular in texture like shark-skin, or relatively smooth.

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend, Barry

Jul 10, 13     Comments Off on Red-Spotted Horseshoe Worm, Segmented Worms

I’m back!! Is this week going by fast or is it just me?? We have two sub dives today, one at 9:00 and another at 11:00, both runs are paying customers and yours truly will be underwater with them taking their photos.

This is one of my favorite little reef decorations called a Red-Spotted Horseshoe Worm, Protula sp. Horseshoe worms are know as Calcareous tube worms, class; Polychaeta, order; Sabellida and family; Serpulidae. Serpulids build hard, calcareous tubes which are often hidden in or on rock, coral, or occasionally sponges. Their extended crown of colorful radioles form spirals and whorls. Like Christmas tree worms (fan worms), the radioles are used to catch food, and will instantly retract when disturbed, (like in the movie Avatar). A hardened structure, called an operculum, covers the tube opening when the worm withdraws, Horn-like growths that often extend from the operculum are useful in species identification.

We had some island excitement here today with robbers being chased by the police and the Dutch Navy and it all happened behind the Sea Aquarium. What little I know is two guys robbed a store and used a scooter as a get away vehicle and ended up in the desert behind the aquarium, in fact they found their way to my hiking/biking trails. Then the Navy shows up with a giant helicopter, shots were heard, one guy captured and they spent all day looking for the other guy, that’s all I know.

Do something good for our poor Earth today, it all helps!!

Barry

 

Jul 10, 13     Comments Off on Lizardfish Teeth, Reef Fish With an Attitude, Sand Diver

Hey gang, sorry so late today, way too much going on. First off I went for a dive and went in search of a Giant Sea Anemone that we could use as our main subject on a blue-light dive but believe it or not I never found one?? Yeah whats up with that?? My dive was suddenly cut short by what I thought were just a few pieces of trash floating in the water but as I collected them I almost chocked on my regulator as I saw what was coming! I kid you not when I say it looked like a cloud of jellyfish approaching and as I got closer you cold see they were plastic grocery store bags of every shape and color?? Man do I detest plastic bags and this was reason #1!!! I swam around for the next hour like there was no tomorrow trying my hardest to collect them all, it was one of the craziest things I had ever seen! I am guessing some ship dumped all their trash in the sea because Curacao no longer has these types of bags in their stores, we have to take our own bags shopping. I ended up collecting so many bags that I couldn’t carry another one back, it was insane! When I returned to shore and looked back out to sea you could still see bags all over the surface, talk about depressing!! This was a major case of “do the best you can do” and hope others will jump in and collect the rest.

A while back I had sent you a photo of a spotted moray eel and I told you this was the animal I fear most, well this is my second. I have watched these Lizardfish come out from under the sand at a million miles an hour and completely destroy a poor unsuspecting fish, I have never seen any creature underwater move that fast!! Fish-eating species are divided into two groups according to their hunting technique. The first is the “roving predators” like barracudas and the other as you see above is classified as the “lie in wait predators” which include frogfishes, lizardfishes and scorpionfish who ambush prey from concealed locations. Under normal circumstances reef fishes are virtually impossible to capture. However, a predators capture rate increases dramatically when it takes advantage of abnormal situations or is able to conceal itself into it’s surroundings. These lizardfish are masters of the ‘lie in wait” and can usually be found buried in the sand with just their scary eyes and razor sharp teeth showing, it’s so clever but so unfair!! They also have the ability to lighten or darken their skin like so many other fish giving them even more advantage over the rest. For you photographer this is an easy fish to photograph as long as you come in real slow, they truly believe you can’t see them and will stay still until your almost on top of them. If they swim off and they probably will, they will only go a short distance giving you many more opportunities for a great shot, so be patient.

Well, we have to walk the dogs, have a great remainder of the day!!

See ya, Barry

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