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 June, 2014

Jun 30, 14     Comments Off on Coral Reef Scene, Elkhorn Corals, Stony Corals

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Good morning friends, did you have a great weekend out there??? We sure did because our prayers have finally been answered, WE GOT RAIN!!! Yes our 6 month drought is finally over!! We woke to rain about 3:30 in the morning friday and it was still going into the daylight hours, it was fantastic!! Aimee and I were up at around 5:30 sitting out on our porch that overlooks the whole area drinking our Highlander and watching the show, it was an all out real tropical downpour!!!! At one point it was coming down so hard that I had to run out and cover the baby box turtles with a tarp and a piece of plywood, I came back in soaked to the bone! A rain like this will now produce the much needed vegetation that so many animals depend on for food.

So our month of June has turned into “bird rescue month”! I think I told you all about the beautiful wild green parakeet we found a week ago on the road that was just hit by a car. We stopped traffic to get that poor thing out of the middle of the road and rushed it to our local animal hospital. It has multiple fractures in one wing and it is now back home living with us. The wing is in a bandage for 2 weeks and time will tell if he will ever fly again. We have him in a cat crate with driftwood, he is eating really well and chirping all day, so far so good!! Then saturday evening on our dog walk we found a big ring-eye pigeon out in the desert hanging from his feet??? He had somehow gotten what looked like black sewing thread around his feet and that was now tangled in the thorn bushes, talk about a mess! Aimee quickly grabbed him and I broke the twig he was hanging from. I then had to race home while she stayed there to find something to cut all this string away, it was on there so tight it was cutting his little feet! So to make a long story short we got the thread off and one lucky bird was released. Also, not bird related but on my bike ride this weekend Dorian and I found a little dog (white terrier) out lost on the trails. We tried to get close but it just took off back up the trails and all we could do was to follow. The dog eventually popped out onto a busy road and ran ride down the middle of the road causing traffic to have to stop. It finally stopped in front of this house where I finally grabbed it and tied it to the side of the gate. I sat there for 30 minutes with the dog waiting for Dorian to go back and search for anyone looking for a dog but he retuned with no luck. We knew the dog was special as he had a micro-chip collar and another tag with an e-mail so it was not a wild dog. So as luck would have it the dog started barking and a lady from behind the gate started calling the dog?? Yes I was confused! Apparently the little dog had run all the way back home and woman had no idea he was even missing, she was as shocked as I was. In the end it was great to see the dog back home, what a smart little thing, not sure my dogs would be able to do such a feat!

I spent the weekend building a very technical free-ride course down on the salt pans for a few of us crazy mountain bikers. One of my inventions is a plank going up to a big boulder and then you drop down the other side on a pallet, it should be super fun, just a little worried about the crazy cross winds down there.

I have a coral reef scene with a beautiful Elkhorn coral for your viewing pleasure today that was taken right out in front of the Curacao Sea Aquarium on what is known as “Shipwreck Point”.

Have a great day all!!

Barry

Jun 26, 14     Comments Off on Entemnotrochus adansonianus, Pleurotomariids

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Hello readers, here’s something wonderful for you all today. These are called Slit Shells or for you smarties that prefer scientific names, they are called Entemnotrochus adansonianus, Crosse & Fisher, 1861. The top photo shows a beautiful live young adult about four inches in width and height feeding in a stony sponge while the bottom photo shows two beautiful live juveniles about an inch in width and height feeding on a discarded empty slit-shell. These are the shallowest occurring and most commonly collected pleurotomariids in the Western Atlantic with a range that extends from Bermuda to Southern Brazil. Slit Shells of this species live at depths of 180 feet to 700 feet so it’s safe to say that not many folks will ever see one while out diving! In the rest of the Western Atlantic, there are three species of pleurotomariids that co-occur in any given area, but they are not sympatric as they occur at different depths. We found these sitting on a rocky ledge at around 500 feet with the sub and ever so carefully picked them up with a powerful vacuum hose and gently dropped it into a padded bucket. It’s safe to say that most shell collectors will cry when they see these, they are a thing of beauty! Once again I find myself asking “why is everything so colorful at such deep depths”?? I mean it’s really dark down there, why are fish and shells so colorful?? Is there some magical alien light that we don’t know about that comes up from the deep each night lighting up these creatures so they look their best when mating with their species? We are one of the first companies ever to not only find these in their natural habitat but we are also able to study them and find out how they live and what they eat plus photographing them in their natural surroundings. On any given sub dive with Substation Curacao you have a very good chance of seeing a Slit Shell in person, so come on over and see us for a ride you won’t soon forget.

Have a wonderful day, thanks for tuning in!!

Barry

Jun 25, 14     Comments Off on A Rare, Deep-Water Saber Goby, Antilligobius nikkiae

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Good morning friends, sorry about the NO blog yesterday but it’s been crazy around here! First off Carole Baldwin (Worlds top fish expert) arrived again from the Smithsonian Institution and was kind enough to bring us down stuff we needed from the States like our favorite coffee from “Dark Canyon Coffee Company” in Rapid City, SD. I have a link to this magical place on the left side of our home page so you to can see what all the fuss is about. We LOVE the blend called “Highlander Groog”. If you ever want to get us something we will love, that is it! Our friend Lori that owns  the company has been keeping Aimee and I in coffee wonderfulness for years now and like I told her the other day, every cup is a memory link back to our times in Rapid, a city filled with great memories! So thanks again Lori for sending that to Carole.

Also as many of know my new carbon 27.5 SCOTT (mountain bike) arrived from Florida Sunday evening and yesterday I finally got it back from the bike shop all set-up and ready to go. I haven’t even ridden it yet except in Tucson where I fell instantly in love with it! The bike weighs around 24 pounds and costs about $6000, I will be finally taking it out this afternoon on a ride with Dorian and can hardly wait!

So back to Carole Baldwin and why we had no blog yesterday. Carole jumped into the “Curasub” submersible with our owner Dutch tuesday and went down in search of new fish species for around 5 hours. The sub can stay down at a depth of 1000 feet for up to 8 hours on a single charge. I wasn’t around when they returned but did end up seeing a bunch of their live finds yesterday morning in the deep-water aquariums we have set up in a special area closed to visitors. I ended up spending most of my day in the cold lab photographing deep-sea fish and some beautiful invertebrates like the rare slit-shells that every collector in the world would love to own. Carole is currently concentrating her efforts on deep-sea fish species like the sea robins, golden bass and a few gobies, she says there will be many new species announced in the near future. Above is one of these many new species that has already been announced and has been named after the owners daughter Nikki. This is a tiny one inch, super beautiful fish called a Saber Goby, Antilligobius nikkiae. These are found in the 300-400 foot range and are usually seen congregating in schools unlike other fish that like to be on their own like the golden bass for instance. This one here along with a few others was collected by the sub alive about a week ago and brought up slowly by divers which took about six days. I love this little fish, not only are they colorful but they have a super tall dorsal fin that seems to get even taller with age, this one here pictured is a younger juvenile. I spent hours in the lab trying to get this photo yesterday, you have no idea how difficult it is to get a fish to park where you want them to, it could be close to the most frustrating thing I have ever done! I also photographed two baby slit-shells yesterday as well and will send that to you tomorrow, talk about beautiful!

Our island continues to be bone dry, no rain at all and we think this could be the worst conditions we have seen since living here. Stijn gave me hundreds of fallen mango’s from his tree last night and those we are taking out this morning to the trail to feed to the animals like the starving iguana’s. Aimee brought home a wounded parakeet that got hit by a car yesterday with a broken wing. She took it to an animal hospital and I think if they can fix it we will take the bird back to watch it here at the house during it’s recovery, I will keep you posted.

Well, I am off to work and to hopefully spend some time with Carole, I love picking her brain about fish. If any of you have any questions for Carole get them into me today at barry@coralreefphotos.com and I will ask her directly for you, she is a walking fish encyclopedia!

Have a wonderful day!

Barry

Jun 24, 14     Comments Off on Green Moray Eel, Gymnothorax funebris, Eels

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Good morning friends, I did yet another night dive last night with the GoPro/Ikelite setup and again came back with some great videos! As luck would have it the first thing I found last night after just entering the water was a full size adult Caribbean Reef Squid hanging out in the shallows. Upon seeing this I pretty much dedicated my dive to just letting this curious squid get used to me which in the end means better photos and better videos! Since I was only using one Ikelite VEGA strobe (with a diffuser) I was able to get very close because the light was not overwhelming, and by close I mean less than a foot!! As soon as I figure out how to upload videos onto my site/blog I will post this one from last night, it was such a great experience! I think I ended up spending around 20 minutes with the squid just slowly following her all around the sandy basin here at Substation. On many times during the event she would swim up and grab the camera or just hover in front of the light and let me pet her, it’s dives like this that keep me going back for more! After saying goodbye which I hated to do, I moved out onto the deeper reef and again was immediately met by the sight of lionfish on every other rock! I filmed one trapping a poor fish and eating it while others just hung out upside down on the side of rock paying no attention to me at all! Other animals I filmed last night included two different cowfish, a cute little spotted trunkfish, a big hermit crab in a super old crusty shell, sleeping parrotfish, blue tangs, arrow crabs and a cute little baby spotted drum. I saw the giant green moray eel (above) but he was under some big boulders and was out hunting, he wanted nothing to do with me! The photo above was taken earlier in the day after photographing the submersible and I was on my way back into our lagoon. As I ascended to the top of our rock pile where the entrance is to our exit, Mr. Grumpy (above) was out hunting and surprised me beyond belief when I crested the top, he pretty much said, “get out of my way or I will bite you”!! I of course popped off one shot in surprise and gave him all the room he needed for his escape, this animal is 6 feet long so you surely don’t want to upset him!

I just got out of the water from a submersible photo shoot and am busy getting those photos ready for our returning guests.

Lots to do, please send some rain our way!!

Cheers, Barry

Jun 23, 14     Comments Off on Corkscrew Anemone, Bartholomea annulata, Anemones

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Good morning from the hands down windiest place in the Caribbean!! I’m officially really starting to hate the wind, this is just plain ridiculous! On my three hour mountain bike ride yesterday I had the wind at my back for an hour and a half and flying like Superman but when I turned East into the wind at Porto Marie it was like a big kick in the face!! Today it’s way worse and the sky is just brown from dust, not a great time to visit Curacao!

Saturday evening I did my 3rd night dive in a row and again had such a great time. This time I took just the GoPro/Ikelite setup with my 2-Vega video strobes but found out that at night you get best results by using just one of these lights. I even went as far to zip tie an old diffuser to the front of one of the Vegas and got even better more balanced light and kept it on the lowest power setting, remember this works great at night but for daytime I use both strobes. During the dive I got a killer clip of a big lionfish trapping a small cardinalfish and eating it or so I thought. With a second look the cardinalfish escaped and I have no idea how?? I also shot a clip of an octopus trying to grab a lionfish? Yeah, I think an octopus will eat anything if they can catch it! And the coolest thing….. I saw our deep water starfish that I posted a few days ago!! The last time we saw him was months ago. This is a starfish that we brought up from 850 feet with the submersible and somehow escaped out of our collection basket. He now lives under the sand all day and at night can be found walking around feeding, it’s so cool! I shot a bunch of different clips of him on the sand and eventually burying himself because of my lights.

I had a request for a Corkscrew Anemone and found this shot I taken a few weeks ago right out in front of our submersible platform.

Bartholomea annulata is a species of sea anemone in the family Aiptasiidae, commonly known as the ringed anemone or corkscrew anemone. It is one of the commonest anemones found on reefs in the Caribbean Sea.

The ringed anemone can reach a diameter of 30 centimetres (12 in) when fully extended. The column is short and wide and the oral disc with its central mouth can be 12 centimetres (4.7 in) across. There are about two hundred long, translucent tentacles ringed with whorls and spirals formed by groups of cnidocytes. The general colour is grey or brown with the cnidocyte area cream coloured. The anemone contains symbiotic zooxanthellae, single-celled algae that live within its tissues. During the day these use energy from the sun to manufacture carbohydrates by photosynthesis. The sea anemone benefits from this and the algae have a safe lodging free from the likelihood of predation.

The ringed anemone is a common species in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. Its range extends from Bermuda, Florida and Texas to the northern coast of South America. It is found on reefs and on soft substrates such as coral rubble or sand at depths down to about 40 metres (130 ft). It usually occupies a hole or crevice or lives under a rock, drawing back out of sight if disturbed. It has been found using the empty shell of the queen conch Lobatus gigas as a home.

Some of the ringed anemone’s nutritional needs are supplied by the zooxanthellae. It also feeds by extending its tentacles to catch zooplankton and small invertebrates. These are immobilised by the cnidocytes and transferred by the tentacles to the mouth.

Reproduction may be by pedal laceration. In this process, part of the basal disc of the sea anemone gets detached as the anemone moves over the substrate, and this piece is able to grow into a new individual. The anemone can also reproduce by liberating gametes into the water column. After fertilization, the eggs hatch into larvae which are planktonic and drift with the current. After further development they settle on the seabed and undergo metamorphosis into juvenile anemones.

My new carbon SCOTT Spark 27.5 mountain bike arrived last night from Florida and I can hardly wait to get it put together.

Have a great day, please send some rain our way if you can!!

Barry

Jun 20, 14     Comments Off on Free Swimming Caribbean Reef Octopus, Curacao

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Hola Amigo’s, it’s finally Friday!!!! I did another night dive last night out in front of our Substation with me, myself and I and had a super great time! I saw dozens of lionfish, eels out hunting, sleeping parrotfish everywhere, a giant porcupinefish, lots of soapfish, and my favorite thing of the evening….. this giant free swimming Caribbean Reef Octopus. Folks, this was a big octopus and like most of the octopus we see he or she could have cared less I was there! I of course followed and watched from a safe distance and wished I could just hang out here for the whole evening, it’s honestly that entertaining!! Because our waters are still a bit cold I find myself starting to shake after about an hour and just have to get out, and yes I’m wearing a full suit! I did shoot a bunch of GoPro video’s as well last night but after viewing them this morning see that I used a bit too much light, will most likely go back again tonight for another try. 

We have a submersible dive planned for 1:00 today and sorry to say our live underwater video camera is down, the cord got broken a few weeks ago.

I really hope you all have a wonderful weekend, not sure what i am doing yet as my bike is still in the shop for repairs. My new Carbon Scott Spark will be here Sunday evening from Florida, I can hardly wait!

Be back soon,

Barry

Jun 19, 14     Comments Off on Night-diving with Ikelite/GoPro Video Camera

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Good afternoon from sunny, windy, dry Curacao!! Last night I had a fantastic evening of underwater adventure with my two friends Tessa (above) and by new diving buddy Gitland. I had already spent hours of getting ready for this dive during the day by setting up two full DSLR Ikelite housings, one with a D-200 and the other a D-800. Tessa was the lucky recipient of getting to use the new state of the art Ikelite/GoPro video camera with the duel VEGA Video lights, talk about a sweet looking underwater outfit!

http://www.ikelite.com/lighting/2107.2-vega-dual-kit-gopro-flex.html

Like three navy seals on a mission we entered the sea in all it’s darkness at around 8:00 and took off straight down to around 75 feet! We instantly discovered a pretty big Caribbean octopus out hunting on the sand and proceeded to pull up along side for a few photos and a little video. He was super cool and climbing all over everything and could have cared less about us, he just kept on hunting. At one point he jumped up onto a big coral head and then tried to grab Tessa as she swam by, I have a photo and will send that later, it was really cool! After loosing sight of him we moved on and up to around 70 feet and “PRESTO” we found another smaller Caribbean octopus, this night was off to a great start! This one proved to be harder to shoot as he or she was deeper in the reef , that’s why I love finding octopus in the sand, you don’t have to worry about delicate corals! Next we found a pretty big spotted moray out hunting and minutes later found another that was even bigger. As I was shooting the second eel I noticed he wasn’t moving and was just parked in one spot under a big beautiful gorgonian? Well with a closer look we saw there was a third spotted eel poking it’s head out of a little cave, a possible mate perhaps?? I guess the night is not just about trying to find dinner! After the eels we took back towards Substation and that’s when we ran into this giant prorcupinefish, Diodon hystrix. These beautiful pufferfish can reach 3-feet in length. We followed this one around for quite awhile last night during which he took us back down to around 70 feet! I really love these giant, gentle creatures, they are just so much fun to watch and have such great expressions! Soon after taking this photo by dive buddies alerted me that they were now running low on air and it was time to make tracks back to the dock. On our return we spotted numerous lionfish out hunting and some were really big, funny because you don’t see as many during the day! Our last adventure was with a hiding cowfish and we hung out with him for as long as we could, I will send those to you as well. So another great, fantastic night dive in Curacao, I swear night diving is just one of those things that never gets old, kind of like eating chocolate and drinking Highlander Groog! (my favorite coffee, see logo link on the homepage, Dark Canyon Coffee).

Lots to do, have a great day!

Barry

Jun 18, 14     Comments Off on Yellowline Arrow-Crab, Stenorhynchus seticornis

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Good morning from windy, dry Curacao!! As some of you know the World Cup of Soccer is underway which translates to non-stop craziness around here!!! There are soccer parties everyday on the beach and at every snack in town, people driving around with different country flags on their cars and going crazy if their teams win and everyone is wearing soccer clothing. My colleagues are shocked that I know nothing about the sport and that I am not watching every second of every game, sorry! In the States I didn’t grow up playing soccer as a child, it was American football, baseball and Nascar, those were our sports but boy does the rest of the World ever love soccer!! 

I have a cute little Yellowline Arrow-Crab, Stenorhynchus seticornis that I found yesterday hanging out down inside a beautiful purple azure vase sponge. These crabs are super cool and one of the few sea creatures that could care less if you want to spend your dive observing them, they seem to be unafraid of everything! This one here had his legs open like a tripod keeping him in one place in the middle of the sponge and was feeding on little pieces of something that was inside the sponge. Because the photo is so small you can’t really see his or her beautiful purple claws but you can see his two wonderful orange eyes just below his tall rostrum.

Stenorhynchus seticornis, also know as the yellowline arrow crab or simply arrow crab, is a species of marine crab.

The body of S. seticornis is triangular, and the rostrum is drawn out into a long point with serrate edges. The legs are also long and thin, up to 10 cm (3.9 in) across, and the animal’s carapace may be up to 6 cm (2.4 in) long. Colouration is variable in this species; the body may be golden, yellow or cream, marked with brown, black or iridescent-blue lines; the legs are reddish or yellow, and the claws are blue or violet.

Stenorhynchus seticornis is found in the Western and Eastern Atlantic Ocean, from North Carolina and Bermuda to Brazil, including throughout the Caribbean Sea, also in the coastal waters of Cape Verde. It lives on coral reefs at depths of 10–30 feet (3.0–9.1 m). S. seticornis is nocturnal and territorial. It eats small feather duster worms, bristle worms and other coral reef invertebrates. 

S. seticornis is one of a number of different invertebrates that are found living in association with the sea anemone, Lebrunia danae. It is often found among the anemone’s pseudotentacles along with Pederson’s cleaning shrimp (Ancylomenes pedersoni) and the spotted cleaner shrimp (Periclimenes yucatanicus).

During mating, the male places a spermatophore on the female, which she uses to fertilise her eggs. These fertilised eggs are then carried on the female’s pleopods until they are ready to hatch into zoea larvae.  These swim towards the ocean surface and feed on plankton. They grow through a series of moults, and eventually metamorphose into the adult form.

If you have time check out this super cool video I got from a friend, nothing to do with the sea or diving, just fun!

http://www.youtube.com/embed/7-UTRIln9Pk

Have a great day friends, I’m finally doing a night dive tonight with friends!

Stay-tuned, Barry

Jun 17, 14     Comments Off on Deep Sea Astropecten, Deep Water Starfish

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Hey gang, sorry for the late blog today but I was taking photos under the sea and this time not of the submersible. Since we didn’t have any runs this morning I loaded up the 105 macro lens onto the D-800 and took off in search of anything of interest but honestly I had a hard time finding something new. When you dive everyday like I do for the past 10 years it becomes more and more difficult to find something that you haven’t seen before. My editor told me years ago that if I post one more photo of a scorpionfish or a Christmas tree worm that he would disown me but I can shoot all the squids I want. On todays dive I saw a lot of lionfish again and the water visibility was terrible due to these crazy winds that are still trying to blow this island out of the Caribbean.

I have a deep sea Astropecten (starfish) for your viewing pleasure today that was brought up from the deep months ago by the Smithsonian and lost on the way up. Yep, this was one of the lucky ones. I found this guy more than once at night living under our submersible platform in 15 feet water, crazy because he came from 850 feet!! If any of you have a name for this guy please pass it on and I will again update the post. When I last saw him out of the sand feeding (at night) he immediately buried himself when he saw my lights, the whole process from top photo to bottom took him less than 10 seconds! Really, if I would have looked away or blinked he would have just vanished! This is where many sea stars spend their days, under the safety of the sand and only come out at night to feed, they are so cool!

Here’s a note from our buddy Dave Pawson/Emeritus Senior Scientist at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution……Nice image of a starfish of the genus Astropecten. I can’t tell you the species name for sure, but it looks like A. duplicatus Gray, which can be common in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean, to depths of around 1800 feet. There are at least 7 species of this genus in the Caribbean, (which are currently being descibed by John Lawrence in Florida, but it may take a few more years!). Astropecten and Luidia often live buried, and they may come out at night to forage. They’re predators, often swallowing prey whole (clams, even sand dollars), and spitting out the shells when they’re done. They’re among a small group of starfish that don’t have an anus.

Starfish or sea stars are star-shaped echinoderms belonging to the class Asteroidea. Common usage frequently finds these names being also applied to ophiuroids, which are correctly referred to as “brittle stars” or “basket stars”. About 1,500 species of starfish occur on the seabed in all the world’s oceans, from the tropics to frigid polar waters. They are found from the intertidal zone down to abyssal depths, 6,000 m (20,000 ft) below the surface.

Starfish are marine invertebrates. They typically have a central disc and five arms, though some species have more than this. The aboral or upper surface may be smooth, granular or spiny, and is covered with overlapping plates. Many species are brightly colored in various shades of red or orange, while others are blue, grey or brown. Starfish have tube feet operated by a hydraulic system and a mouth at the centre of the oral or lower surface. They are opportunistic feeders and are mostly predators on benthic invertebrates. Several species have specialized feeding behaviors including eversion of their stomachs and suspension feeding. They have complex life cycles and can reproduce both sexually and asexually. Most can regenerate damaged parts or lost arms and they can shed arms as a means of defense. The Asteroidea occupy several significant ecological roles. Starfish, such as the ochre sea star (Pisaster ochraceus) and the reef sea star (Stichaster australis), have become widely known as examples of the keystone species concept in ecology. The tropical crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci) is a voracious predator of coral throughout the Indo-Pacific region, and the Northern Pacific sea star is considered to be one of the world’s 100 worst invasive species.

Have a great day all!!

Barry

Jun 16, 14     Comments Off on Invasive Lionfish in Curacao, Caribbean Lionfish Photo

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Good morning friends, how was your weekend??? As you know mine was short this week as we all had to work on Saturday. And YES, I know most of you wouldn’t even call what I do work, i.e. diving on a beautiful reef taking underwater photos of people riding in a two million dollar submersible, once again someone has to do it! I did start working on the mountain bike/hiking trails again Saturday evening and Sunday morning as we just had a big race out there and now they are a mess and you already know that nobody else will do right? The local terrain here is very loose rock, sand and powdery dirt and needs constant cleaning or the trails become very difficult and dangerous to ride.

We did a tiny bit of rain this morning for the first time in months so whoever has been doing the rain-dance please keep it up!!

I had a few people asking about our lionfish problem and if it’s gotten better or worse?? That’s a good question and I wish I had a something super positive to tell you but from what I am seeing on my dives is, they are always there! Many folks here in Curacao are still hunting them and selling them to the restaurants for food and many of the local dive shops are spearing them to help keep the numbers down but really are we doing any good at all?? The Smithsonian Institution has been collecting these fish at depth, (with our submersible) at 250-500 feet and bringing them up immediately to check their stomach contents. So far we have not seen their bellies full like the rumors are stating but they could just have a fast digestive system or be only eating at night, so maybe we need to catch them earlier in the evenings? A few days ago when I was down photographing the submersible I saw quite a few and some were pretty big, I guess I need to get by buddy Stijn to come back over for another lionfish dive. When we are out hunting them we usually feed them to the spotted morays who absolutely love them and will eat them non stop, the same can not be said for the giant green morays who don’t seem to like them unless you cut them up into pieces for them. I think it’s important to just keep their numbers down which is easily done by each dive shop keeping their own house reefs clean, I mean we all know it’s an impossible task on our North coast where the numbers are much higher and the fish are impossible to get to.

Off to the sea for me, have a wonderful day!

Barry

Jun 13, 14     Comments Off on Curasub, Curacao Mini-Sub, Deep Submersibles

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Good morning friends, I heard a rumor this morning that a tropical storm may be somewhere in our area so I am praying some rain is headed our way! The rumor also said monday could be very windy and nasty around here but so far this is just talk on the wind. 

I had a request for a picture of our submersible yesterday and thought this was a perfect one for todays blog. We call our little 5-person, 2 million dollar submersible the “Curasub” and it lives onsite at the Curacao Sea Aquarium. The submersible is not a submarine, many get this confused and don’t even know there is a difference.

A submersible is a small vehicle designed to operate underwater. The term submersible is often used to differentiate from other underwater vehicles known as submarines, in that a submarine is a fully autonomous craft, capable of renewing its own power and breathing air, whereas a submersible is usually supported by a surface vessel, platform, shore team or sometimes a larger submarine. In common usage by the general public, however, the word submarine may be used to describe a craft that is by the technical definition actually a submersible. There are many types of submersibles, including both manned and unmanned craft, otherwise known as remotely operated vehicles or ROVs. Submersibles have many uses worldwide, such as oceanography, underwater archaeology, ocean exploration, adventure, equipment maintenance/recovery or underwater videography.

Apart from size, the main technical difference between a “submersible” and a “submarine” is that submersibles are not fully autonomous and may rely on a support facility or vessel for replenishment of power and breathing gases. Submersibles typically have shorter range, and operate primarily underwater, as most have little function at the surface. Some submersibles operate on a “tether” or “umbilical”, remaining connected to a tender (a submarine, surface vessel or platform). Submersibles have been able to dive to over 10 km (6 mi) below the surface.

Submersibles may be relatively small, hold only a small crew, and have no living facilities. A submersible often has very dexterous mobility, provided by propeller screws or pump-jets.

Our little baby also can dive to depths of 1000 feet, can hold 5 people, has 6-5hp motors, (2-mains, 2-verticals and 2-laterals) and can stay underwater for a good 8 hours on a single charge. For more info check out; www.substation-curacao.com

I have to get ready for a dive, have a wonderful day out there!!

Cheers from windy Curacao!!

Barry

Jun 12, 14     Comments Off on Underwater Video Made Easy with Ikelite VEGAS!

BAR-

Good morning friends. I took the day off yesterday as we have to work Saturday this week as we have some VIP’s from the government stopping by to take a ride in the submersible. I was kindly asked to post another “diving on the reef photo” and since you asked so nicely I am glad to oblige. Many of my diving friends in the States say they use the blog as a type of “cyber diving escape”. They added, we love the photos of a person out doing what we want to be doing but are unable to get away from our busy lives at the moment. To this I say, I’m glad to help, someone has to do it right??

This is another shot of our friend Tessa out on the Sea Aquarium house reef aptly named, “Shipwreck Point”. Our house reef is one of the best diving spots here in Curacao and has all kinds of giant relics scattered across the oceans floor like this monster propeller. We also have two of the most beautiful antique anchors and another propeller on a long shaft that I posted on Tuesday. Tessa is again seen using the new state of the art IKELITE Go-Pro tray and 2-Vega video lights, you have to get this put on your Christmas list now! This little lightweight setup has finally put an end to drab underwater video and photos, even a caveman can do it! I have given this setup to so many new divers to try and they all exit the water with some kind of killer movie clip all saturated in spectacular colors. Check out the blog from Tuesday for the link to get yours and start seeing the reef in a different light.

Yesterday I got in a fast three and a half hour mountain bike ride starting at 6:00 in the morning. At 7:30 I had made my way to the North coast and met Aimee there with her bike and our two dogs, Inca and Indi. The dogs LOVE to run alongside the bikes on this section of the island, it’s super soft dirt so it’s kind on the paws! We usually run them a few miles up to a little boca (private beach) , they head straight for the water and sand while we collect shells and little fossil corals, it’s fun for all! We are still struggling with one of the worst droughts since we have been here, it’s crazy dry and the local animals, like the iguana’s are really suffering. Aimee and I continue to haul water and food out to the water stops out in the desert now twice a day, I just wish more people would help by doing the same.

That’s about it, I just did a quick dive to 75 feet with the submersible and photographed our guests from Germany and am now waiting for their return.

Oh yeah, don’t forget to check out the wonderful info on www.reefs.com, talk about a great website!!

Have a wonderful day!!!!

Barry

Jun 10, 14     Comments Off on Ikelite VEGA Video Lights, Underwater Go-Pro

BAR-

Good morning friends, I apologize again for the late blog  but I have been under the sea most of the morning. I spent the morning getting ready for a dive with our friend Tessa (above) who is here currently doing research at the Dolphin Academy. So, since we were headed out to a beautiful reef I gave her my brand new, state of the art, Ikelite setup designed especially around the GoPro. This sweet little baby has two ultra powerful VEGA lights, a beautiful red aluminum tray and two cushy grips to hold onto, I mean really can it get any better than this?? Shooting professional quality underwater video’s used to be so far out of reach because of the cost involved, not anymore folks! These VEGA lights have 3 power settings and are as lightweight as they get not to mention super easy to charge, you don’t even have to take anything apart! Tessa was swimming and exploring around this beautiful sunken propellor shaft (above) so I laid on the sand and waited for her to pass by. What I’ve been doing is finding my subject, like a lionfish for instance and  swim in very slowly with the GoPro already filming and set the tray on the sand in front or on the side with the lights on and just leave it there for a few minutes. I then usually swim away and watch from a safe distance, fish are much less afraid of the camera then a diver and by setting it on the sand the video is crystal clear. And remember, you can easily adjust your lights up or down for the perfect amount of light on any subject, if fact what you visually see if what you get. For instance if your subject is light colored use less light and if it’s dark like a blue tang for instance you will have use more light, it’s simple, you will love it!  There is also a pistol grip available for those of you wanting to film with one hand, the grip attaches easily with just one screw. Here is the Ikelite link for those of you wanting the best there is, http://www.ikelite.com/web_pages/gopro.html

Have a great day!!

Regards from windy, dry Curacao! 

Barry

Jun 9, 14     Comments Off on Deadly/Poisonous Siphonophore, Portuguese Man O’ War

BAR-

BAR-

Good morning friends, welcome back to monday!! Every year about this same time I get a bunch of mail regarding these beautiful but very dangerous siphonophore’s that are currently finding their way to our shores due to these crazy winds! These are not jellyfish and you should avoid them like the plague! Even in their washed up dying phase as you see here they can still cause extreme pain and will most likely get you a seat in the hospital for the rest of the day if touched or stepped on. One of our big fears has always been the dogs finding one before we do so please watch your animals if walking the beaches with them. The ballon part of these animals can be touched and you can pick them up (if you have to) just don’t let the tentacles touch you. We usually dig a deep hole in the sand and use a stick to pick them up and bury them when found, this way they won’t hurt anyone or anything! During these periods of high wind they get blown from way out in the ocean to our beaches and rocky shoreline and can end up in the weirdest places so beware!

The Portuguese man o’ war (Physalia physalis), also known as the Portuguese man-of-war, man-of-war, or bluebottle, though often mistaken as a common jellyfish, is a marine cnidarian of the family Physaliidae. Its venomous tentacles can deliver a painful sting.

Despite its outward appearance, the Portuguese man o’ war is not a common jellyfish but a siphonophore, which differs from jellyfish in that it is not actually a single multicellular organism but a colonial organism made up of many highly specialized minute individuals called zooids. These zooids are attached to one another and physiologically integrated to the extent that they are incapable of independent survival.

The name “man o’ war” comes from the man-of-war, an 18th-century armed sailing ship, and the cnidarian’s supposed resemblance to the Portuguese version at full sail. (In other languages it is simply known as the ‘Portuguese war-ship’ (Dutch: Portugees Oorlogsschip, Finnish: Portugalinsotalaiva), the ‘Portuguese galley’ (German: Portugiesische Galeere, Hungarian: portugál gálya), or the ‘Portuguese caravel’ (Portuguese: “caravela portuguesa”, Spanish: “carabela portuguesa”, Italian: “caravella portoghese”, Swedish: “Portugisisk örlogsman”, Norwegian: “portugisisk krigsskip”).

The Portuguese man o’ war lives at the surface of the ocean. The gas-filled bladder, or pneumatophore, remains at the surface, while the remainder is submerged. Since the Portuguese man o’ war has no means of propulsion, it is moved by a combination of winds, currents, and tides. Although it can be found anywhere in the open ocean (especially warm water seas), it is most commonly found in the tropical and subtropical regions of the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic oceans. The Portuguese man o’ war has been found as far north as the Bay of Fundy and the Hebrides. 

Strong winds may drive them into bays or onto beaches. It is rare for only a single Portuguese man o’ war to be found; often the finding of one results in the finding of many. Attitudes to the presence of the Portuguese man o’ war vary around the world. Given their sting, however, they must always be treated with caution, and the discovery of man o’ war washed up on a beach may lead to the closure of the whole beach.

This species and the smaller Indo-Pacific man o’ war (Physalia utriculus) are responsible for up to 10,000 human stings in Australia each summer, particularly on the east coast, with some others occurring off the coast of South Australia and Western Australia.

The stinging, venom-filled nematocysts  in the tentacles of the Portuguese man o’ war can paralyze small fish and other prey. Detached tentacles and dead specimens (including those that wash up on shore) can sting just as painfully as the live organism in the water and may remain potent for hours or even days after the death of the organism or the detachment of the tentacle.

Stings usually cause severe pain to humans, leaving whip-like, red welts on the skin that normally last two or three days after the initial sting, though the pain should subside after about an hour. However, the venom can travel to the lymph nodes and may cause, depending on the amount of venom, a more intense pain. A sting may lead to an allergic reaction. There can also be serious effects, including fever, shock, and interference with heart and lung function. Stings may also cause death, although this is extremely rare. Medical attention may be necessary, especially if pain persists or is intense, the reaction is extreme, the rash worsens, a feeling of overall illness develops, a red streak develops between swollen lymph nodes and the sting, or either area becomes red, warm, and tender.

Stings from a Portuguese man o’ war may result in a severe dermatitis. The Portuguese man o’ war is often confused with jellyfish, which may lead to improper treatment of stings, as the venom differs from that of true jellyfish. Treatment for a Portuguese man o’ war sting includes: avoiding further contact with the Portuguese man o’ war and carefully removing remnants of the organism from the skin (taking care not to touch them directly with fingers or any other part of the skin to avoid secondary stinging) apply salt water to the affected area (not fresh water, which tends to make the affected area worse) follow up with the application of hot water (45 °C/113 °F) to the affected area from 15 to 20 minutes which eases the pain of a sting by denaturing the toxins. If eyes have been affected, irrigate with copious amounts of room-temperature tap water for at least 15 minutes, and if vision blurs or the eyes continue to tear, hurt, swell, or show light sensitivity after irrigating, or there is any concern, seek medical attention as soon as possible

Vinegar is not recommended for treating stings. Vinegar dousing increases toxin delivery and worsens symptoms of stings from the nematocysts of this species. Vinegar has also been confirmed to provoke hemorrhaging when used on the less severe stings of nematocysts of smaller species.

Have a great day, Barry

Jun 6, 14     Comments Off on Phutuq K’usi, Phutuqk’usi, Putucusi Trail Peru

BAR-

Good morning friends, sorry about the no blog yesterday but we are super busy trying to get our Peru photos out and ready for sale. As I mentioned earlier we shot around 400gb worth of photos meaning we have a lot of work to do! The places we photographed include but are not limited to; Aquas Calientes, Chinchero, Cusco, Las Chullpas, the Putucusi trail (above), Machu-Picchu, Mares, mountain biking, Ollantaytambo, Pisac, Pisac Ruins, Sol Y Luna, stone carving, Ollantaytambo Quarry and Uruabamba to name a few! The photo above is near the base of the World famous Putucusi trail and was our first introduction into a real jungle setting. This trail starts near the the town of Aguas Calientes behind the train station where you buy your bus tickets to Machu Picchu. To say this was the most beautiful trail I had ever been on would be an understatement, it’s breath taking in more ways than one! This is the trail with the insane 100 foot ladder sectons that we climbed and at the top is a spectacular view of Machu-Picchu that few get to see, it’s worth the effort! Aimee and I stopped every feet yards to photograph the ferns, flowers butterfies and birds, it’s a photographers dream trail!

Phutuq K’usi or Phutuqk’usi (Quechua phutu bud, -q a suffix, k’usi a cucurbita species, a small zucchini or cucurbita pepo, “budding zucchini (or cucurbita pepo)”, hispanicized spelling Putucusi) is a round-shaped mountain located on the opposite side (northeast) of the Urubamba River to Machu Pikchu in the Cusco Region of Peru. Reaching approximately 2,560 metres (8,400 ft) above sea level at its peak, the mountain offers epic views of Machu Pikchu and the surrounding Urubamba River valley.

Phutuq K’usi, Machu Pikchu (“old peak” in Quechua) and Wayna Pikchu (“young peak”) are considered apus or holy mountains by the local Quechua people.The view of Machu Pikchu from the summit requires a 1.5-hour trek up the mountain, with approximately 1,700 wood and rock steps. A recently discovered Inca Trail, the path lies just 10 minutes west of Aguas Calientes following the train tracks along the Urubamba River. The entrance is free.

The first half of the journey is jungle trail, and involves several very steep vertical wooden ladders, the largest of which scales over 100 feet (30 m). The second half presents views of Aguas Calientes and the Urubamba River valley, as the trail ascends the eastern face of Phutuq K’usi in switchback fashion. The train passes through native flora including pisonayes, q’eofias, alisos, puya palm trees, ferns and more than 90 species of orchids.

In spring 2011, floods wiped out the vertical ladder section of the climb, making an ascent impossible without professional climbing gear, but by August 2012, all the ladders had been replaced.

Well gang, have a wonderful weekend, we have a three day weekend!

Cheers, Barry

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