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
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
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
Jul 24, 13     Comments Off on Curacao Reef Scene, Pillar Corals, Scrawled Filefish
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
Jul 17, 13     Comments Off on Curacao Caribbean Flamingo’s, Caribbean Flamingo’s,
Jul 16, 13     Comments Off on Scrawled Filefish, Aluterus scriptus, Filefishes
Jul 16, 13     Comments Off on Deep Sea Hermit Crabs, Substation Curacao
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

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