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 March, 2014

Mar 31, 14     Comments Off on Bottlenose Dolphins, Baby Bottlenose Dolphin

Good morning friends, How was your weekend?? I see from the news that many of you are still locked in cold, nasty weather and I do feel for you!! Here in Curacao the crazy winds have slowed a bit but still no real rain! I think the island is the driest I have ever seen it in March!!

I got in a long 4-hour mountain bike ride on Saturday and discovered some new trails over by Willibrodus that had just recently been built. Later in the afternoon after Aimee got home from work we loaded the dogs and took off back to Willibrodus to do some exploring! We ended up doing a 2-hour hike and discovered all kinds on new areas and trails we never even knew existed! One of the trails went down this beautiful canyon and ended on the cliffs very near Bullenbaai, it is such a beautiful hike! On Sunday I for once said “I’m doing nothing” and took the morning off, no trail work, no dog walks, no nothing, it was great to just sleep in till 6:00! At 9:30 I picked Emma up from the Sea Aquarium and off we went back to Blue Bay Resort to do some more pictures of her modelling on the beach. In the late afternoon I took the dogs and we went out to work on my newest trail which still needs around 2-days of work, mostly swinging a pick! So that’s my weekend in a nutshell, what did you guys do??

Just a fun Bottlenose dolphin photo for you all day, this is Ritina and her baby Alita, what a pair!!!!

I am off on a macro-dive, have a great day!

Barry

Mar 28, 14     Comments Off on Hunting Lionfish with a Submersible in Curacao

Good afternoon from the Caribbean!! Well it’s finally friday, pat yourself on the backs you made it through another week!! And that’s saying a lot for those of you battling the winter out there!! Here in Curacao it’s been trying to rain for the past week but so far only a few drops have actually made it to the ground! The good news is the crazy wind has stopped and the diving has been wonderful again, now all we need is the rain!!

Well here’s something you won’t see anywhere else, a 2.5 million dollar submersible that can now spear and collect lionfish! My co-worker Bruce, seen here in the front of the submersible with the one and only Carole Baldwin of the Smithsonian Institution designed and invented a speargun for the front of the sub!! It sounds so simple right?? Not!! Once the spear has been shot it is reloaded by the small robotic arm on the right side of the sub. If a lionfish is speared it is then taken off the spear using the larger robotic arm on the left and then dropped into the basket. Again this sounds so easy but it’s all skill! Because the large robotic arm won’t reach all the way into the front basket the pilot has to release the shot lionfish from the robotic claw and use the sub to scoop it up, this takes a lot of practice! The Smithsonian is very interested in these deep-water lionfish and are currently collecting as many as they can to find out what effect they are having on deep-reef fish. So far the deepest one they caught was at 520 feet!! They have also observed that the deeper they are the bigger they are?? Many of you may have seen the recent Jeff Corwin/lionfish episode that he filmed when he was here a few months ago. For that episode they brought up a few lionfish and immediately had Carole Baldwin open them up to examine the contents. Her main concern is that we now have a invasive species like the lionfish eating up species of fish that haven’t even been discovered yet. Stay-tuned!!!

I have a busy weekend as usual on tap, have fun out there!!

Barry

Mar 27, 14     Comments Off on Aplysina Red Band Syndrome, Sponge Disease
Mar 26, 14     Comments Off on Woman Holding Shell, Caribbean Water Photos
Mar 25, 14     Comments Off on Juvenile Golden Coney, Cephalopholis fulva, Bass

Hey gang, geez it’s 8:30pm!!! Talk about dropping the ball on the blog today, super sorry but I was so busy!! I took off to Blue Bay Resort with our friend Emma from Sweden at around 9:30am and spent around 2 hours doing a fun photo-shoot with her on the beach. I have been wanting to get more into photographing people and models (on land) and today was a perfect opportunity. We shot Emma holding beautiful conch shells, using Ikelite cameras, laying in the sand, on towels, with hermit crabs and on and on, it was super fun and I got some great photos to share, so stay tuned. Once I returned I met Carole Baldwin from the Smithsonian and her and I went for one last round of beach combing as she flies back to the States early in the morning. The rest of the Smithsonian group left yesterday and as always they ALL will be missed, we sure love having them around!!

Here is a new fish for yours truly. This is a baby or juvenile Golden Coney, Cephalopholis fulva that I found under our ship while anchored at Daaibooi Friday with the Chapman. Actually I found two of them and both around 2-inches in length. I have seen adult Golden Coney’s in Bonaire on many occasions but I have never seen them here and I know I don’t have an photos of these cute, very colorful juveniles! This little fish will soon loose the orange coloring on the top of his body and turn completely yellow and look even more brilliant in the days to come. Coney’s which are in the sea bass family are normally found in shades of reddish brown to brown, (most common), but there is also a bicolor variation (upper dark and lower pale), and as you see here the uncommon brilliant yellow-gold variation, with scattered small brilliant blue dots. Coney’s are one the those fish that are a complete joy to photograph as they usually just sit there like groupers do and let you do your thing, acting completely unafraid. Obviously groupers are the best known members of the sea-bass family but they all have strong, stout bodies and large mouths. One can normally always find sea-bass and Coney’s lurking in the shadows of the reefs, ledges and wrecks where larger species blend with the background. Because of the large mouths these sea-bass have fishes or crustaceans are drawn into their gullets by the powerful suction created when they open their large mouths making them dangerous predators.

It’s time for bed, see you tomorrow!!

Barry

Mar 24, 14     Comments Off on Deep Sea Research, Chapman, Curasub, Curacao

Azure Vase Sponges

Good morning friends, how was your weekend out there??? I have been non-stop busy since Friday morning and for the first time in days am actually sitting down trying to catch up! Friday we took our 2.5 million dollar submersible named the “Curasub” onboard the Chapman (our big research vessel) and headed to a reef that is right in the middle of Porto Mari and Daaibooi. The top photo shows the Chapman with the Curasub on the back passing the entrance to Daaibooi and preparing to drop anchor. The second photo shows the rear deck of the Chapman with our portable floating dock in the water, the Curasub and our safety boat, this was taken as they were returning from their second deep-dive in search of new creatures. The third photo shows the submersible “Curasub” in it’s floating dock that is secured to the back of the ship, this is where the sub rests in-between dives. We did two dives here, the first was a fun dive with VIPS and the second dive was with the Smithsonian Institution, they found some new fish and a killer little flounder that I will send you later this week. While the sub was out doing it’s thing I took off to explore a new reef and was blown away by what I found! This reef has some of the most beautiful sponges I have ever seen and they were all big and spectacular! I raced around like a crazy man underwater trying to shoot them all in a small amount of time!! One of my many finds was this cluster of three Azure Vase sponges (bottom photo) attached to a nice colony of Row Pore Rope sponges, something I had never seen before! Usually these sponges are growing from the substrate but these were off the reef and just connected to the Row Pore’s, it was super cool and mega beautiful! I really felt like a kid in a sponge candy store down there and was so overwhelmed by all the cool stuff to photograph!! The only way back here other than a boat would be to swim on your back out of Playa Daaibooi all the way out the reef and then go West, I think it would be worth the effort to do another dive!! I ended up returning about the same time as the sub and then spent some time playing and photographing baby fish under the ship in the sand. It was a long day at sea and we didn’t get home till late but it was well worth the effort!

On Saturday I was joined by at least 10 people from the Sorsaka Bike club and they all helped me get my new trail open!! There is still a bit more work to do but all in all the trail is open on both ends, many thanks again for help, that was the first time ever a group of riders came to help with trail building!! Later that day I met the Smithsonian in the lab and photographed their new flounder and took some more photos of them in action, will get those to you as well real soon. Sunday I took off under very stormy skies and hurricane force winds and got in my three hour ride for the day! I am now getting in a round 100 miles a week on the mountain bike and finally starting to see the results. After the ride I met the Smithsonian again and off we went for a fun dive. I took a bunch of pictures for my friends at Ikelite of the scientists out doing their thing using Ikelite equipment and again those will be on the way as well soon.

So that is my three days in a very small nutshell, I did a whole lot more but don’t want to put anyone asleep on a Monday!

I am off to the sea, have a great day, Barry

Mar 20, 14     Comments Off on Rare, Deep Sea Octopus, Octopi, Cephalopod
Mar 19, 14     Comments Off on Dragonette, Foetorepus agassizii, Deep Sea Fish
Mar 18, 14     Comments Off on Decodon species, Red Hogfish, Deep Water Wrasse
Mar 17, 14     Comments Off on Acanthodromia erinacea, Rare Deep Water Crabs

Good morning friends, how was your weekend?? Mine was filled with long bike rides, diving and walks with the dogs, needless to say I am tired today! Last night we did a super fun night dive with the blue-lights and as usual had a total blast! If you don’t have a blue-light yet, you gotta get one!! And remember you don’t have to be a diver to see and photograph fluoresence, it’s for land and water! Here is the address again to order yours, www.nightsea.com or just click on the logo on the left side of my front page.

Our little Caribbean island of Curacao is bone dry and from the looks of things we may be heading into a drought year. Normally the island should have had much more rain by this time already but not this year and it has us very worried. I have multiple bird feeding and water stations set up out in the desert and we fill those now every day but it will take the love of others to really help these thirsty creatures out. A few years back Bonaire was pleading with it’s residents to put out water for the birds and from what I heard that really helped.

Here’s a mega rare, live, deep water crab, (Acanthodromia erinacea) about the size of a dime, discovered and collected between 950-1000 feet by our manned submersible called the Curasub. This little treasure was found sitting on an old slit-shell in the sand. If you look closely at the body and legs you will see that they are covered in razor sharp spines, he’s like a walking sea-urchin. Because there is so little known about these tiny crabs there isn’t much info to find but I did find this PDF from the Smithsonian Institution. http://decapoda.nhm.org/pdfs/11731/11731-013.pdf

Speaking of the Smithsonian they arrived safe and sound this weekend and are at this very second climbing into the submersible and taking off in search of new specimens. Besides having the top fish scientists onboard we also have one of the top algae guy here as well and I hope to do a story with him this week and all the cool stuff he is here to study, so stay tuned.

Have a great week, enjoy the cute crab!

Barry

Mar 14, 14     Comments Off on Candy Bass, Candy Basslet, Liopropoma carmabi)
Mar 13, 14     Comments Off on Caribbean Hermit Crab, Coenobita clypeatus, Hermit Crabs

 

Hey gang, first off, I am so sorry about all the website problems these past few weeks, please hang in there!! What has happened is that my site was being hosted by Dreamhost and we recently transferred the site over to Hostmonster but because of an unforeseen problem we are still having problems.

So much going on lately! I did another four hour bike ride on Saturday and Sunday got in some great diving! A friend brought us an injured American kestrel (in a box) and we took it to the local animal hospital where it is currently eating and drinking and awaiting x-rays. This morning as we were leaving for work a beautiful wild parakeet hit our back window and knocked itself out! Aimee quickly picked it up and held it for around five minutes, it was super dazed! Then we put in in a padded kitty carrier and within 10 minutes he was doing well enough to fly away, talk about weird. The island is very, very dry, we desperately need rain!

So, remember my story from last week about the giant hermit crab that we found while out hiking?? Yes, no?? Well long story short, we found this giant hermit crab walking around in a shell that was way too small for him so we took him home and found him a new one. We ended up having him for around a week at the house and above you can see him in his new shell that he moved into almost within minutes of seeing it!! Then about 6 days later we took him all the way back out to the exact spot we found him and let him go except now he had a new home, a full belly and was completely hydrated. Once we let him go he first crawled over a big tree root (bottom) and then because it was still light out, he buried himself under the leaves until nightfall (middle). At night these guys are very active and crawl everywhere in search of food, you really wouldn’t believe how many there are out at night!

The Caribbean hermit crab, Coenobita clypeatus, also known as the soldier crab, the West Atlantic crab, the tree crab, and the purple pincher (due to the distinctive purple claw), is a species of land hermit crab native to the west Atlantic, Bahamas, Belize, southern Florida, Venezuela, the Virgin Islands, and the West Indies. Adults burrow and hide under the roots of large trees, and can be found a considerable distance inland.

Caribbean hermit crabs are both herbivorous and scavengers. In the wild, C. clypeatus feeds on animal and plant remains, overripe fruit, and feces of other animals, including the Mona ground iguana, Cyclura stejnegeri. The West Indian top snail (Cittarium pica) shell is often used for its home, and the hermit crab can use its larger claw to cover the aperture of the shell for protection against predators. Typically, the Caribbean hermit crab’s left claw is larger in size than its right claw and is purple in color. Female land hermit crabs release fertilized eggs into the ocean. The spawning (called “washing” in the English-speaking Caribbean) occurs on certain nights, usually around August.

This species is one of the two land hermit crabs commonly sold in the United States as a pet, the other being the Ecuadorian hermit crab.

The Scientists from the Smithsonian arrive tomorrow and will be here for a week, stay tuned for their new finds.

Have to run, Barry

Mar 7, 14     Comments Off on Substation Curacao, Curasub, Diving with Submersibles
Mar 6, 14     Comments Off on Sharknose Goby, Gobies, Small Cleaner Fish

I guys and gals, so yesterday when Aimee and I went for our morning hike I found a giant hermit crab about the size of a baseball walking around in a shell that barely fit him! His shell was so old and nasty that his whole body was hanging out, he really couldn’t even protect himself. Yep, you know where this is going don’t you?? I reached into my trusty backpack and pulled out my tupperware animal transporter and in he went. I carried him back to the car where we keep a big bucket in the back filled with dirt and food for just these little emergencies. When we got home I put him in one of our big turtle homes and laid 3 big, beautiful shells in there for him to choose from. Within minutes he had one picked out and “Presto” he moved out of the old one and into the new one!! He is currently playing in his water dish and being fed all kinds of different foods. So now I am waiting till Sunday when I can take him all the way back out and put him right back where we found him but first he will get a free professional photo-shoot, so stay tuned!!

I have a cute little Sharknose Goby, Gobiosoma evelynae resting in a little pocket of brain coral for you all today. These little fish as you may or may not know are known for engaging in symbiosis with other marine creatures by providing them cleaning service that consists of getting rid of ectoparasites on their bodies. In return, the Sharknose Gobies obtain their primary source of food, ectoparasites.

Sharknose gobies are very small, torpedo-shaped fish. Although sizes vary slightly by species, they are generally about (1.5 inch) long. They have dark bodies with iridescent stripes running from the tip of the nose to the base of the caudal fin. The color of the stripes varies by species. Like all gobies, their dorsal fin is split in two, the anterior dorsal fin being rounded like that of a clownfish and the posterior dorsal fin being relatively flat. The anal fin lines up with the posterior dorsal fin and is of similar shape. The pectoral fins are nearly circular, and, like all other fins, transparent.

Sharknose Gobies are generally carnivorous, with their primary diet consisting of ectoparasites on skins, fins, mouth and gill chambers of their clients. Depending on their ecological circumstances, they may also feed on zooplankton and non-parasitic copepods. Although they are carnivorous, they occasionally consume algae and other plants as secondary food source.

Sharknose Gobies have a unique response to predators approach. Fish response to danger is largely classified into two: fight-or-flight or freezing. However, Gobiosoma evelynae follows neither. It engages in cleaning interactions with potential predators sooner than with non-predatory clients, treating them almost as soon as they arrive at their cleaning stations. Furthermore, it was observed that these type of gobies clean predators for longer durations. As implied by higher cortisol level in the Sharknose when approached by predators, the fish do experience stress upon encountering predators, but unlike other fish that exhibit flight or freezing response, our brave goby demonstrates a proactive response. It is predicted that the Sharknose chooses to be proactive as cleaning predators faster makes them leave sooner, which in turn would encourage non-predatory clients to revisit cleaning stations. Moreover, such proactive response may serve as a pre-conflict management strategy that might result in safe outcome for interactions with certain predators.

Have a great day, I’m taking off underwater to see the submersible!

Barry

Mar 5, 14     Comments Off on Puddingwife, Halichoeres radiatus, Wrasses, Labridae

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