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 September, 2013

Sep 30, 13     Comments Off on Sleeping Parrotfish, Sleeping Stoplight Parrotfish

Good morning friends, how was your weekend???? I got some great news this weekend from NANPA, (North American Nature Photographers Association) informing me that I placed in the top 10 photos submitted this year!! The photo was one I sent out to you months ago of a collage of baby corals shot on the reef at night under blue fluorescent light which was also featured in Sport Diver last month. I will keep you posted when it is on display so you can go to their site to check it out.

So my weekend was filled with diving and dining with our friends Mike and Beth from the one and only, World famous, Ikelite underwater housing company!! On Saturday we loaded their rental car with 6-tanks, tons of dive gear and two Ikelite camera set-ups and headed to the West end of the island to a dive site called Playa Forti. This is quickly becoming my new favorite dive site because of the crystal clear calm waters, all the turtles, the insane topside view and the crazy amount of cool creatures you will find here. Our first dive started out with three flying gurnards playing around in the sand, flounders everywhere, crabs of kinds, shrimps, eels and all kinds of beautiful baby fish, you are going to love this place!! Afterwards we ate lunch at the restaurant above the dive site and then took off to the next spot which was only a few minutes away called Playa Piskado. Here we found an area in the shallows filled with Sailfin Blennies and to our surprise they were popping up out of every rock giving us quite a show, you can bet I will be back soon with the macro-lens!! I also noticed that this dive site is filled with all shapes and colors of disk corals and lettuce sea slugs in every shape and color including bright blue and aqua. We got back to the Sea Aquarium at around 5:30 and after cleaning everything we took off for a nice evening out at a place called Kleine Wereld. This is a fun Dutch restaurant that has a grill in the middle of the table and you cook your own food the way you like it, what could be better than that??

On Sunday I took our guests from Ikelite out on our Sea Aquarium house reef for a morning dive and again we both carried cameras because who knows what you will see out there?? It was a fantastic dive, lots of fish and lots of cool stuff to photograph we kept busy for almost an hour and a half! One of my favorite shots was photographing Mike with a very calm golden yellow trumpetfish and I must say the photo is pretty cool! After the dive Mike and Beth went sightseeing while I spent the day getting ready for our BBQ and night dive. We met at 6:30 at Substation and first had a great dinner while listing to music from a band playing on the beach and then took off at 8:30 on our dive. The photo above is a big, beautiful Stoplight Parrotfish in his terminal colors laying on a rock fast asleep! During the day these fish are all greens and blues but at night as you see above they have the ability to darken their bodies, talk about a cool fish! I never get tired of seeing all the different parrotfish asleep at night and you sometimes have to laugh at where they decide to park for the night, I mean this doesn’t look too concealed?? We also saw a bunch of beautiful octopus, of course lionfish and for the first time ever we saw a beaded crinoid out crawling around, that was super cool and yes I will send a photo.

I have another busy day ahead, Ikelite leaves tomorrow and we still have so much to do!!

See you soon, Barry

Sep 27, 13     Comments Off on Free Swimming Caribbean Reef Octopus at Night

Good morning from Curacao! Well folks it’s official, I am no longer the sole photographer in the family!!!!! These two insane shots of a swimming Caribbean Reef Octopus were taken by my wife Aimee on last nights dive and I couldn’t be more proud!! Our new saying this week has been, “forget coral spawning, let’s play with all the octopuses”!! Last night after finding and watching just a few star-corals release their eggs we decided to forget this and go find something more entertaining. We immediately found this bad boy out hunting and began to settle in for an evening of octopus photography. By this I mean when you find one of these guys you can’t just snap a few photos and leave, you have to be willing to drop everything else and follow him for as long as it takes to get that one or in this case two good photos!! Heck what am I saying, Aimee came home with at least 40 shots like this, it was hard to pick two and ok, maybe I am a bit jealous but I am so happy for her!! We have never once seen an octopus so willing to participate in human interaction as this one did, he honestly wouldn’t let us leave! Every single time we gave each other the “OK signal” to leave he would launch himself into the water column and swim next to us, in front of us, over us, under us and as you see in the top photo directly towards us, talk about a crazy animal encounter! Aimee and I were snapping photos so fast that it must have looked like an underwater fireworks show but even with all those flashes he just kept coming! Finally we both said no more!! We were both low on air and really didn’t know where we were at because when you follow animals at night looking through a little view-finder your bearings get all messed up!! So it was another great night dive, we exited the water at 11:00 and finally got home again by midnight, that’s 6 nights in a row of late night diving!! 

I am off today, I have my friends from Ikelite arriving in a few hours!! 

Have a great weekend, Barry

Sep 26, 13     Comments Off on Free Swimming Caribbean Reef Octopus, Curacao

Good morning all!! Getting a late start today due to us not getting home till almost midnight again last night, these coral spawning nights are a killer!! There was spawning again last night but nothing like we are used to so I am hoping that maybe tonight will be the BIG night!!?? We did shoot a short Go-Pro clip as one star coral colony exploded in eggs but after seeing the clip I learned I was filming too close, won’t make that mistake again. During my video shoot with the Go-Pro I learned that just one video strobe was perfect light. With that said, a strobe that can be adjusted for different intensities of light is best but if your just using flashlights you will probably need two and make sure for most of them you bring a diffuser. After this week of trying to shoot video I now have major respect for underwater video folks, this is a major trial and error hobby but if you keep after it like I am trying to do, you should find the perfect combination. We did find more octopus again last night and had a blast hanging out with this one above! As we watched, he would climb to the top of a coral or something tall and then just jump off and start free swimming around the reef, talk about cool!! I think we ended up following this guy for 10 minutes or more until we both realized how low our air was getting and then finally had to say good-bye!

Not much else going on, it’s been a very quiet week!!

I have to go do a dive, see you back soon, Barry

Sep 25, 13     Comments Off on Coral Spawning in Curacao, Spawning Star Corals

Good morning friends, coral spawning has began!! Even though we had fairly rough seas last night we jumped into the ocean at 9:30 and by 9:50 saw our first corals starting to spawn. We first encountered a single Caribbean reef squid that we hung out with for a few minutes but like so many sea-creatures they have the ability to disappear in the blink of eye and once they leave you can’t find them again. We then started seeing large groups of reef fish gathering around selected corals and knew this was an indication the eggs were releasing and coral spawning had began. We swam from colony to colony watching each explosion of eggs and each seemed to be better than the last. The major downside to the night was me trying to shoot video with a Nikon D-800, talk about difficult and frustrating!!!! My advise to all of you divers trying to shoot video with this camera (underwater), take a Go-Pro instead!!! The D-800 is one of the best photo cameras I have used to date but using it underwater at night, SUCKS!! This camera WILL NOT auto focus no matter what lens you put on so save yourself the pain and just take photos or grab the Go-Pro which was a million times better last night. And yes for those of you trying to defend the D-800 I was able to get an initial focus once I turned it on and started the video but the second you move out of the field of focus it’s over!! That’s what happened last night over and over as we had big waves overhead so it was impossible to stay in one place but thankfully we had the Go-Pro 3 going the whole time!! After the corals stopped spawning we encountered a group of 6 or so giant Caribbean reef squids, maybe the largest I had ever seen! We again started the video with the D-800 (using four video lights) and the Go-Pro and once again the Go-Pro was the hands down winner, was so glad I had remembered to bring it along! At one point during the following/filming of the squids they all inked me at the same time and I was covered in brown ink that looked and felt like oil, it was so cool and I have it on video, will try to get it uploaded for you. So all in all our night went very well other than the wasted time with shooting DSLR video, tonight and tomorrow night should be much better for the coral spawning!! Remember to enter the water no later than 9:35 and it will be over by 10:25 with most going at around 10:05-to 10:15. 

That’s about it, my friends from IKELITE will be here Friday, they are bringing me repaired items, new equipment to test and will repair my existing housings in house, good-luck finding a better underwater housing company with this degree of customer service, it doesn’t exist!!

Later all, diving this afternoon and tonight!!

Barry

Sep 24, 13     Comments Off on Soft Corals, Gorgonians, East Point Dives, Curacao

Good morning gang, as many of you here already know this is coral spawning week and it starts tonight. I will be getting in the water at around 9:30pm and the coral should start releasing eggs and spawning around 10:00 through 10:20, so get out there early and be ready for anything!! Our goal this month is to finally shoot some video which I have never done and figure it’s about time to learn something new. Last night Aimee and I went diving and did a practice video dive and all in all it went pretty well, I learned a lot so tonight should be better. We are still seeing an amazing amount of octopus and last night we shot a long video clip of a big one out hunting, it was great to watch!! 

I have a wonderful giant gorgonian for you all today that we saw on our Eastpoint dives a few weeks back.These soft corals are like underwater trees and bushes and they sway gently back and forth with every passing wave and are home to all kinds of different animals. Gorgonians is the preferred name for this large group of octocorals; however, they are commonly called soft corals because of the colonies lack of hard, rigid, permanent skeletons. The common name soft coral should be used when referring to members of the family Nephtheidae, abundant in the Indo-Pacific. Gorgonians include the animal colonies known as sea rods, sea whips, sea feather plumes, sea fans and orange sea whips. The stems and branches of all gorgonians have a central skeleton or axis. The central core in the suborder Scleraxonia is composed of either tightly bound or fused calcareous spicules. A wood-like core typifies the Suborder Holaxonia. The core is surrounded by gelatinous material called the rind. Polyps (above) are embedded in the rind and extend their tentacles and bodies from surface openings called apertures. The arrangement of the polyps (in rows, alternating bands, randomly scattered, ect.) is often helpful in the identification process.

Have to get the cameras and dive gear ready for tonight, have a great day all!!

See you soon, Barry 

Sep 23, 13     Comments Off on Pelagic Fish, Pelagic Peacock Flounder, Bothus lunatus

Good morning all, how was your weekend?? As promised weeks ago, I have a rarely seen, pelagic baby flounder for you all day, talk about cool!! This was discovered by the Smithsonian using a state of the art “light trap” that was placed out in the ocean and left there overnight. For those of you wondering what a light trap is, it’s a long floating net with very fine mesh with a waterproof light attached to one end. Light traps float at the surface and attract new-born pelagic fish and creatures and really without a device like this scientists would never know what baby fish look like. So the evening we were parked at Playa Forti with the “Chapman Research Vessel” and our mini-submersible called the “Curasub” Carole Baldwin of the Smithsonian took the light trap out and tied it to a floating buoy which was about 100 feet above the reef. The next morning I was one of the first awake and saw the light trap way out at the edge of the reef with the light still on and wondered what was inside?? As soon as Carole woke she jumped in our small boat and took off to collect the trap which only took a few minutes. Inside was this beautiful, one inch translucent flounder as you see above and without the black background that I placed under him you would have never seen it, I tell you he was almost invisible!! The blueish color you see on his body was not visble to the naked eye, this was brought out by the flashes, cool huh?? Along with this flounder, there was also a see-thru pelagic shrimp, a pelagic flying gurnard, lots of baby sharpnose puffers (which I set free) and many assorted pelagic reef fish but I did not get photos of everything. For the flounder I took him up to my room on the ship and photographed him on a piece of glass that was submerged in an 8th inch of water. I then slid a piece of black velvet under that and shot away, the hardest thing was getting him to sit still, if he moved I couldn’t find him, he was that translucent!!

Peacock flounders swim close to shore in the late winter and early spring to breed. The females lay two to three million eggs each year. After the females lay the eggs, the males fertilize them. Flounders are pelagic spawners, which means they gather in groups in areas where the fertilized eggs will be taken by the currents. The eggs float in the epipelagic zone or the zone in the open ocean near the surface. The fertilized eggs float, but as the young develop, the eggs sink. It takes 15 days for the eggs to hatch. For the next four to six months, the larvae or the newly hatched fish float free in the pelagic or open ocean environment. The larvae may even float hundreds of miles from where they were laid. It’s during this time that the eye on the right side of the body begins to move so that both eyes settle on the left side.

The peacock flounder changes its color and the pattern on its skin to exactly match the sea floor. One of the eyes recognizes the pattern of its surroundings. If this eye is covered by sand, the peacock flounder can’t camouflage itself. Each eye can move independently, seeing forward and back at the same timePeacock flounders are covered in spots. The dorsal or back side is trimmed in dark flower-like spots on the dorsal surface that have blue borders. Because of their spots, the peacock flounder is also called the flower flounder. This flounder can be 20 inches (50 cm) long.

The eyes stick up from just the dorsal side of the body and there is a wide space between them. One of the eyes is closer to the mouth than the other. The eyes are raised up on short stumps to give the peacock flounder a good view of its surroundings from the ocean floor. Each eye moves on its own, meaning each one can look in one direction while the other looks in the other direction. This not only helps the flounder watch out for predators, but it also helps the flounder look for a quick snack.

Like other animals, a baby flounder has an eye on each side of its face. But as the fish grows, one eye moves until both eyes sit together on the same side of its head. The mouth doesn’t move though, giving this fish a crooked-looking face. Flounders even swim upright like most other fish until they mature. Then flounders swim sideways, making it easier to lay flat on the bottom.

The side of the body that is left eyeless doesn’t ever get the coloration of the wildly patterned and colored topside. It is a uniform tan colorIn shallow waters, peacock flounders live on sandy bottoms of coastal coral reefs and lagoons. Sometimes, these fish take a break on smooth rocks. This flounder will even bury itself under the sand, leaving only its eyes sticking out from the sand.

I raced in the Dutch Championships on Sunday but sadly did not finish!! This was a 5 lap, 20 mile race that started at 8:00 and I was still going at 9:30 and man was it HOT!? I did well the first three laps and had the winner in sight, but on lap number four crashed into a big rock and landed in a cactus all thanks to a novice ridder in front of me who was unable to stay on his bike on a sharp corner. Stijn ended up winning and I can’t even tell you how proud we all are of him, this was a hard race!! I had ice on my elbow all day and in the evening Aimee helped dig thorn after thorn out of my arm, boy is it swollen today!!

Have a great week all, Barry

Sep 20, 13     Comments Off on Lionfish, Caribbean Lionfish, Invasive Animals

Good morning from Curacao!! Sorry about my tardiness again today, there is again just way too much going on!! I ripped my rear derailleur off my mountain bike on Tuesdays ride with the boys and have been trying hard to get the bike fixed. My normal bike mechanic is on vacation so today at 2:00 I will take it over to Stijn at Vista Bike and hopefully get my machine running again before the weekend! There is a race on Saturday but not sure if I will be joining or not due to the bike problems and very little training this week. 

I have another Lionfish photo for you all today that I snapped at 125 feet out in front of our very own Substation. It’s hard to believe that such a beautiful creature has caused so much chaos around the Caribbean and there seems to be no end in sight!! On our last night dive we saw at least a dozen and those were just the ones in our direct path, imagine if you went out and only looked for them how many you would find?? As I have said before these fish are eating machines and unfortunately have bottomless stomaches! The single greatest threat to them being here in the Caribbean is that they consume large amounts of baby fish and no baby fish means, no big fish!! 

Sorry so short, it’s very quiet here this week!!

Hope you are all well out there, Barry

Sep 19, 13     Comments Off on Underwater Photographer Holding a Camera in Curacao

Good morning friends, sorry about the no blog yesterday but I took the day off and was never around a computer. Aimee and I took the dogs to Saint Joris bay yesterday morning and thought if we got there early we would beat the heat, not the case! By 8:00 we were already soaked to the bone from the lack of wind and 110% humidity, it was insane! The dogs were having fun but pretty much just running from one shady spot to another while Aimee and I worked as a team planting baby agave plants along one of the trails. After about an hour of sweating and digging we finally arrived back to the bay where the dogs ran to and jumped in, you would have thought we had been out there all day! After cooling down we did another quick photo-shoot with some floating volcanic rocks that we found along the beach and YES, I promise those will be on the way to you all soon.

In the evening we did another super fun night dive and had another close-encounter of the octopus kind. We have been finding so many octopus lately and most of them like this one above could care less about us being there. I tell a lot of divers that if you have the time and your not with a big group, stop and just hangout with one of these creatures for awhile, you won’t be disappointed! They are the undisputed masters of disguise, they can change colors in the blink of an eye and are some of the most intelligent creatures in the sea especially when it comes to hunting! We watched this one last night as it swam up to small coral heads and then covered the whole thing with it’s body so nothing could escape, it was unreal to watch!!

Aimee is using a Nikon D-7000 inside an Ikelite housing, Ikelite DS-161 strobes and their NEW, super cool, silver focus light which attaches nicely to the top of the housing on an easy to use flex-arm. The sleek flashlight comes in three colors, red, black and silver and is a must for all divers or snorkelers, here’s the link to get yours, www.ikelite.com

We have a busy day ahead!!

Barry

Sep 17, 13     Comments Off on Shipwreck Point, Sea Aquarium House Reef, Curacao

Good morning readers, I had a request from some divers that are on their way to Curacao and wanted to see some reef scenes from Shipwreck Point or as we know it, the Sea Aquarium house reef. I took these yesterday on my morning dive with a friend  and fellow underwater photographer and as you can see it’s a pretty darn good looking reef! Shipwreck point is known for it’s cool “ship artifacts” like giant propellers and monster sized anchors that range in all different sizes and are always a blast to swim over. Years ago we even had two beautiful tug-boats that sat in 45 feet of water but now rest at 175 feet!! Yes, thanks to a big storm those two tugs slid all the way down the reef and somehow ended up next to each other looking like they just got unloaded off a trailer?? We now take folks to the tugs with the submersible but they are still accessible by scuba as well but you only have about 3 minutes to enjoy the view because of the depth. Also we have a little wall called “Gordy’s Wall” which is at 100 feet and can be found by following a line from one of the sunken anchors, it’s a great dive and we always see great stuff there. This reef has a lot of different corals, forests of swaying gorgonians and thousands of small fish you honestly won’t be disappointed! The top photo is a beautiful little sea-rod I found right at the edge of the reef. The second photo is a big red barrel sponge, the third is a colony of yellow fire coral and finger corals and the last photo is a colony of mountainous star-coral with four blue tangs hanging out at a cleaning station. The downside to diving here is you need a boat!! I don’t because I work here but if your wanting to dive it you will need to charter this as the Sea Aquarium does not allow divers to walk through and wander around. 

Stijn placed third in a big race this weekend in Sirinam, he was up against riders that were much older but still managed to place! I am riding with both my little speed freaks tonight at 4:30, I will pick up Dorian first and then meet Stijn at his house for a two hour ride at Saint Joris, should be fun!!

Well, I have a ton to do as usual, have a wonderful day all!!

See ya, Barry

Sep 16, 13     Comments Off on Underwater Photographer in Action, Swimming Octopus

Good morning from wet Curacao!! Yes, we are getting more rain and the island is quickly turning green again, good for the plants and animals bad for bikers!! We have been glued to the television watching the floods in Boulder Colorado and in New Mexico, what a mess!! The news said this flood of water was of Biblical proportion and the last time this had happened was over a 100 years ago, if you haven’t been following it go to You-Tube and check it out!

So talk about your close-encounters of the cephalopod kind???? Friday evening Aimee and I took off on a super fun night dive in front of our very own Substation. Diving here is about as easy as diving gets, we are 30 feet from the ocean and have a ladder to get in and out and a pool to rinse in after, what more could you ask for?? Our goal for the next few weeks is get some photos of the new high-tec dive lights that were just sent to us from Ikelite, they would like to see them in action and want to use the photos for promotion. So out we went into the darkness at around 7:30 and the first thing we found at 75 feet was a beautiful Caribbean reef octopus and ended up staying with him for the whole dive. Many times we find an octopus and get to take a few photos and then usually it’s, “poof” they are gone but not this one, he or she let us shoot away and could have cared less we were there! After around 10 minutes the octopus made his way to the top of a small colony of giant star coral and then without warning leaped onto Aimee’s camera!!!! They say a picture is worth a thousand words and I say the expression on her face says it all, this is why night diving rocks!! Once he attached himself to the camera he must have not liked the texture much because he immediately let go and went back to hunting. We ended up just laying on the sand watching him for the whole dive and in the end hated to leave, I think I saw Aimee even blow him a kiss as we left!!

My weekend was filled with biking, hiking, dog walks and beach combing, really what else does one need!!

I just got back from a super fun dive with a friend, that’s why it’s taking all day to get this out to you!!

See you tomorrow, Barry

Sep 13, 13     Comments Off on Baby Caribbean Reef Squid, Sepioteuthis sepioidea

Hi friends, it’s finally Friday!! Here’s something pretty cool we found on our last night dive with Mark from the World famous “Dive Bus Hut” and the folks from Go-Pro. On our way back to the exit Aimee signals me with her light and points to a baby Caribbean Reef Squid just hovering above the reef in about 25 feet of water, I’m thinking, “where are your parents”?? He was so darn cute and completely unafraid and immediately became Aimee’s new friend! I unfortunately had a 24mm lens and was having a terrible time trying to get a sharp photo but kept after it in hopes of getting something. After about two minutes the little baby swam towards Aimee and her light and eventually ended up feeling safe in her hands, it was quite a sight to behold! Needless to say; leaving the squid out there all alone in a big dark ocean was hard for the both us but finally we had to say good-bye and wished him the best, this is why we love night diving!!

Here is a little more squid information from MARINEBIO.ORG they have a great site and great information and perfect for those of us who don’t have much time in the morning, read on. The Caribbean reef squid is one our favorite Cephalopods. It is often encountered among shallow reefs and is usually unafraid of divers, if not curious about them. The mantles of newly hatched squid are about 8-9 mm in length and the mantles in adult males and females reach 12-20cm in length. Adult reef squid closely resemble their cousins, the cuttlefish, in that their bodies are broad and less streamlined than many other squids. Reef squid can also move using jet propulsion by pressing water from the pallial cavity (in the mantle) through their funnel to move through the water.

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.

Well gang, we have a bunch of sub dives today and maybe a night dive tonight, have a fantastic weekend and I will see you back here on Monday!!

Later, Barry

Sep 12, 13     Comments Off on Jack Hannah in Curacao, Into the Wild, Jungle Jack

Good morning gang, we had a fantastic day with Jack Hannah yesterday and it’s safe to say we all hated to see him go!! Jack and his crew are here filming all kinds of cool stuff in Curacao like our local batts, flamingos, dolphins, sea-lions and the sub and when I find out when it airs I will let you know. The top two photos are of Jack and our Boss Dutch who took off down to 560 feet in search of new species of fish to collect and film. In the back of the sub, (you can’t see them) was his wife Suzi, the cameraman plus Bruce in the middle as the pilot. The third photo is our pilot Bruce and Jack posing together before the sub was hoisted into it’s floating platform. The fourth photo shows Jack being filmed and getting ready to climb in, his wife Suzi in the blue and orange jacket watching, the Go-Pro gang and Mark from the World Famous Dive Bus Hut (lower left), and our crew doing what they can to either help or stay out of the way. The fifth photo is myself and Aimee with Jack and Suzi and the last is just Jack and Suzi, talk about a great couple!! I learned yesterday that “EVERYONE LOVES JACK”!!! I watched on as he signed countless autographs and posed for countless photos and all with a sincere smile on his face, the guy should run for President!!

John Bushnell “Jack” Hanna (born January 2, 1947) is an American zookeeper who is the Director Emeritus of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. He was Director of the zoo from 1978 to 1993, and is viewed as largely responsible for elevating its quality and reputation. His media appearances, particularly with David Letterman, have made him one of the most notable animal experts in the United States. Hanna, nicknamed “Jungle Jack”, is known for his khaki safari outfit, deep tan, and Southern accent.

Hanna published his autobiography, Monkeys on the Interstate in 1989. He has published many books for children as well. He has been the host of the syndicated television show Jack Hanna’s Animal Adventures from 1993 to 2008, Jack Hanna’s Into The Wild (2009-2010) and Jack Hanna’s Wild Countdown since 2011. Hanna also occasionally contributes commentary as an animal expert on various local and national news programs, and has done guest spots on other shows such as Larry King Live, Nancy Grace, Maury, and Hollywood Squares. He was also named one of the “50 Most Beautiful People” by People magazine in 1996. Hanna also appeared in Neal McCoy’s 2005 music video for “Billy’s Got His Beer Goggles On” with a Hyacinth Macaw, a sloth and an albino burmese python. Hanna, along with Emmy-award winning musician Mark Frye, released an album through Virgin Records in 1996 entitled Jack Hanna’s World.

For those of who don’t know, Jack has a new TV show, Jack Hanna’s Wild Countdown, and it has started airing on Saturday mornings on ABC affiliates around the country! Tune in to see some of his favorite experiences with the World’s rarest, most endearing, and fascinating animals! You’ll even get to see his very own base camp at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.

Don’t worry – they are still filming for Into the Wild and have many exciting adventures to share! The fifth season of the show will be airing this fall and in November the crew is headed to Africa for more WILD adventures. Check out www.jhitw.com to see when and where the show airs near you!

These two TV series exist because of his longstanding partnerships with his title sponsors, Nationwide Insurance and the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. They have  been working together for decades to protect and spread the word about wildlife conservation.://www.jackhanna.com

We were also joined by Karen and Adam from Go-Pro (http://gopro.com) are here on the island testing some new top-secret stuff that I am sworn to secrecy about!! Before the sub left they covered the sub with Go-Pro’s inside and out. The sub then went down to about 230 feet and when they came back we took them all off but left one running inside with Jack. As they were packing up Adam hands me two Go-Pro’s for us to keep!!!?? I almost fell over in shock and can hardly wait to put in on my mountain bike for the ride tonight! Thanks again guys, come back any time!!

We also did a super fun night dive last night with Mark from the World famous Dive Bus, his two guests from Go-Pro (Adam and Karen) and my dearest Aimee, it was a blast!!

Have a wonderful day. Barry

Sep 10, 13     Comments Off on Peacock Flounder, Bothus lunatus, Bothidae

Good evening from Curacao!!! I found another big beautiful Peacock Flounder today and couldn’t resist sending him out to you all. This is our resident flounder who is always laying on the same rocks when I go out to shoot the submersible. I have noticed that over time this flounder has gotten very used to me swimming over him and now instead of swimming off he will just lay there with his body still and only his eyes moving, each in different directions!! This flounder is around 18 inches in length and can change colors in the blink of an eye, talk about a fantastic animal!!

The peacock flounder is also called flowery flounder because it is covered in superficially flower-like bluish spots. As suggested by the family name, lefteye flounders have both eyes on top of the left hand side of their heads. The eyes are raised up on short stumps like radar dishes, and can move in any direction independent of each other. That feature provides flounders with a wide range of view. One eye can look forward while the other looks backward at the same time. The baby flounders have one eye on each side of their bodies like ordinary fish, and swim like other fishes do, but later on, as they are becoming adult, the right eye moves to the left side, and flounders start to swim sideways, which gives them the ability to settle down flat on the bottom. The maximum length of this flounder is about 45 centimetres (18 in).

Peacock flounders are mostly found in shallow water on sandy bottoms. Sometimes they rest over piles of dead corals or bare rock. They may be found as deep as 150 meters (490 ft).

As most flounders, the peacock flounder is mainly nocturnal,but is sometimes also active during the day. It hunts for small fishes, crabs and shrimps.

Like all flounders, peacock flounders are masters of camouflage. They use cryptic coloration to avoid being detected by both prey and predators. Whenever possible rather than swim they crawl on their fins along the bottom while constantly changing colors and patterns. In a study, peacock flounders demonstrated the ability to change colors in just eight seconds. They were even able to match the pattern of a checkerboard they were placed on. The changing of the colors is an extremely complex and not well understood process. It involves the flounder’s vision and hormones. The flounders match the colors of the surface by releasing different pigments to the surface of the skin cells while leaving some of the cells white by suppressing those pigments. If one of the flounder’s eyes is damaged or covered by sand, the flounders have difficulties in matching their colors to their surroundings. Whenever hunting or hiding from predators, the flounders bury themselves into the sand leaving only the eyes protruding.

Tomorrow we have Jack Hannah with us all day!! Fun, fun, fun!!

Be well, Barry

Sep 9, 13     Comments Off on Sea Fans, Common Sea Fans, Gorgonia ventalina

Good morning readers, here are four, beautiful Common Sea Fans, Gorgonia ventalina that we found along the walls of the East coast this weekend. For those of you that have been with me diving you know if I have a camera you pretty much won’t see me till the end of the dive!! This is the curse of the underwater photographer, you get to dive a lot but you don’t necessarily take the time to soak it all in because your too busy racing around the reef trying to get as many beautiful images as possible in an hour! This was the case at Eastpoint, and I am sure many of my fellow divers were watching me thinking, “slow down buddy, you can’t shoot them all”! From the second I submerged to the moment we had to ascend I was racing back and forth on the reef from one beautiful reef scene to another and was amazed that each new shot was better then the last.

Sea fans grow attached to the seabed and look like exotic plants. Unlike soft corals, they have a supporting skeleton that provides a framework and allows them to grow quite large. It is made mainly of a flexible, horny material and consists of a rod that extends down the inside of all except the smallest branches. In the common sea fan, the branches are mostly in one plane and form a mesh that is aligned at right angles to the prevailing current. This increases the amount of planktonic food brought within reach of the polyps, which are arranged all around the branches. Here is Curacao if you want to see sea fans you need to get to our North coast where they grow like weeds! In Bonaire it’s the East Coast that is filled with forests of sea fans and is a favorite spot for sea turtles and schools of fish. These beautiful underwater corals really need strong current and seem to love the surge from passing waves. There really are not a lot of sea fans on the South side of Curacao but we do have a beauty in front of the Sea Aquarium that has been there since we arrived 10 years ago and has managed to survive countless big storms.

The hermit crabs are really out on the trails in numbers right now due to these on and off hard rains we have been getting. During these rains fossil shells wash out from the sides of the banks providing new homes for countless hermits who either want to trade in their old ones or who just want a newer model. Last night we brought a small hermit home because the shell it was in was so small that it’s body was all the way out. Once home I placed him in a big bucket with dirt and placed a few empty shells along side him and within an hour he had left his old home and moved into the new. Then this morning we took him back out to where we found him and said good-bye, and that’s how we do it!!

Off to work, Jack Hannah is here and can hardly wait to meet him!!

Have a great day, Barry

Sep 9, 13     Comments Off on Eastpoint Diving in Curacao, Purple Sponges

Good morning all, how was your weekend??? Mine was again like a contest of, “who can do the most stuff in two days”?? Saturday morning I joined Mark from the World famous “Dive Bus Hut” and 20 of his buddies for a two-tank boat dive to Curacao’s wild East-point which is honestly the best diving we have on the island!!! For me it was sponge heaven, everywhere you looked it was painted in pink and purple sponges and I of course swam around like a crazy man trying to shoot them all!! This is also an area thick with sea-fans of every shape and color, forests of swaying gorgonians, endangered elkhorns, staghorns and countless beautiful mounds of corals, it’s really a beautiful place!! The downside to diving anywhere on this island is the lack of big fish due to overfishing, gill nets and spear fishing, I only saw one barracuda?? I did hear some of the other divers spotted a nurse shark and a few saw a turtle and of course there were lionfish under just about every ledge?? We ended up getting back to the docks at around 3:30 and I finally got home by 4:00, talk about watching a day go by fast!! Yesterday I did my normal 3 hour mountain bike ride in the morning but because of the diving on Saturday I felt very drained the whole ride. After getting back home I raced over to Stijns house and he helped me build a new turtle box for our growing box-turtles, this new home should be perfect for them for another year. At 5:00 we took the dogs to Saint Joris bay and went in search of more floating rocks for my story I am getting ready for you all. While searching for the floating rocks we discovered a whole new variety of floating rocks that we never even knew were here. Normally the ones we find are light colored and semi-easy to find, these new ones are small and the color of driftwood and very hard to spot if your walking, we ended up finding about 50 of these new ones. That’s kind of my weekend in a nutshell, we have Jack Hannah arriving today and will be on the premises for three days filming, stay tuned for those photos.

Hope all is well out there, I have to go!!

See-ya, Barry

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