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.
Archive for September, 2014
Sep 30, 14 Comments Off on Perotrochus quoyanus & Acanthodromia erinacea
Good afternoon friends, sorry I am running late again. I have a super rare slit-shell that the Smithsonian found last week between 480-650 feet!
This spectacular slit-shell above is named Perotrochus quoyanus and is limited in distribution to the islands and mainland coasts of the Caribbean Sea, and is primarily found in the Greater and Lesser Antilles. There have been no recorded findings in the Gulf of Mexico or the Western Atlantic; nor the Bahamas where it is apparently supplanted by the closely-related Perotrochus Lucaya. Until recently insufficient material existed to permit meaningful observations about diversity among the small Perotrochus species of the Caribbean. The increased use of submersibles (like our little beauty) has yielded beautiful, live specimens for scientists to work with. Most known specimens have been found between 137-200 meters but many seem to be most comfortable at the 190-200 meters mark. This one here was around 63mm in diameter, thats about normal size for an adult. This one went home with the Smithsonian for their collection and for study, lets hope it gets a good home and something can be learned from it.
On the right side of the slit-shell you can see a rare little crab called Acanthodromia erinacea and on the left side there is a deep-water hermit with glowing blue eyes, both of these were found on the same dive but not near each other. We can easily bring up crabs and shells alive without hurting them, we just have to be quick about getting them into cold water as fast as possible once at the surface.
You can’t believe how HOT is is here right now, not fun!
I have to run…
Sep 29, 14 Comments Off on Scalloped Fireworm, Chloeia sp, Segmented Worms
Good morning friends, how was your weekend??? Mine was spent taking the dogs out for some much needed exercise, getting some trail work done and working on photos for the Smithsonian. I had planned on doing a long bike ride yesterday but because of the crazy heat I found myself coming up with all kinds of excuses not to go. So this morning at 6:15 I took off and got in a nice early 30 mile mountain bike ride and still got to work before 9:00.
Here’s something new for all of us, this is a Scalloped Fireworm, Chloeia sp that I found last week right under the floating Substation dock crawling around on the sand. I have NEVER seen one of these in Curacao and the book I have says this is possibly an undescribed species and the full range of this animal is unknown. As I watched him on the sand he would stop and then start borrowing straight down into the sand until he was gone, the whole process took around one minute! When disturbed fireworms display their nasty bristles which can easily penetrate and break off in skin causing a painful burning sensation and irritating wounds, “just ask Aimee”! For a visual ID, the caruncle is large, triangular and ribbed with scalloped edges. Segments have tufts of long whitish bristles and stalks of red, branched gill filaments. Single dark stripe centered on back runs length of body and the colors vary from whiish to orangish. Occasional sightings range from Venezuela to the nearby islands and they are found in reef areas of sand and rubble.
It’s a busy monday, still have to finish my photos for the Smithsonian, see you tomorrow.
Sep 26, 14 Comments Off on Possible New Snake Eel Species, Deep Sea Eels
Good afternoon all, it’s Friday and we are still busy here at Substation Curacao working with the Smithsonian. We did have another group of Smithsonian scientists leave this morning with smiles on their faces from all the new goodies they found. So now we just have our World famous Carole Baldwin left who’s down in the submersible now and her assistant Cristina looking for two more specific fish and bringing up temperature loggers from 800 feet. I’m currently sitting here in my dive gear waiting to go under to photograph the sub bringing up the temperature loggers and do a final photo shoot with the ladies in the front. So while I wait I can quickly fill you in on all the recent finds and happenings.
Your photos of the day are a POSSIBLE new species of snake eel the Smithsonian Institution found this week while searching the sandy abyss near the 900 foot mark. This beautiful eel is only around 10 inches in length. Is it a full grown adult or a juvenile of another species, who knows but they can hardly wait to find out! We see quite a few different eels down there the problem is eels live in caves and holes and are very hard to collect or observe so this quite the opportunity.
Yesterday I was so busy running around photographing the scientists doing their thing either in the labs or in the sub. When the sub returned yesterday they brought back more beer bottles they found down deep and one had a baby octopus inside. The scientists are now thinking that all the deep water shells we are finding in the bottles do not crawl in to the bottles but are carried into the bottles by these octopus, makes sence to me. We had a bunch of shell experts here this week and they went home very happy with their beautiful slit-shells, deep-water murex’s, cone shells and on and on. We had one lady here with the Smithsonian who has one of the new cone shells named after her, I will do a story on her next week.
I just heard on the radio the submersible is coming up, I need to get ready to go.
Have a great weekend all…..
Sep 24, 14 Comments Off on Baby Longfinger Purse Crab, Iliacantha subglobosa
Good morning from Curacao all! Look what I have for you today, a baby Longfinger Purse Crab, Iliacantha subglobosa that I found inside one of the beer bottles the Smithsonian Institution brought up from the 800 foot zone. On almost any dive we do we bring up bottles from the deep, one because we want to help clean our ocean and two because they are always filled with little treasures like rare shells or tiny little crabs as you see above. This little crab was happy as could be hanging out inside his discarded Heineken bottle cap, talk about a tiny little thing! Some of you may remember my post last year on June 14th when we collected a full grown adult Longfinger Purse Crab, click on the link below to see what this baby will grow up to be.
We finally got RAIN!!! Last night we had a Smithsonian party over at Dutch’s house (owner of Sea Aquarium/Substation) and no sooner had we arrived and the skies opened up, it was fantastic! This has been one of the dryer years on tap and finally we get a good solid downpour!
The second group of students from Bonaire will be arriving soon I have to get moving! Stay tuned for more…….
Sep 23, 14 Comments Off on Deep Sea Hermit Crabs, Xenophora Shells
Hello friends, we have a crazy busy on tap so I don’t have much time to blog. At 1:00 today we have students coming from Bonaire to explore the depths with the sub and I believe we are doing four dives total, two today and two tomorrow so I will be very busy! The submersible just took off again down to 1000 feet in search of new shells and crabs like the one I have above. This is a super cool looking hermit crab that was found walking around the 800 foot zone in a very old and discarded Xenophora (carrier shell). It’s hard to see in this small photo but he has a cool clutch of eggs (top of left antenna) pasted to the left side of his shell on what looks like a rock from some other creature. I spent a good part of the evening last night in the deep water labs photographing all kinds of new stuff including another live slit-shell and yes I will get that posted soon as well.
Sorry so short, I have to get the underwater camera ready.
See ya, Barry
Sep 22, 14 Comments Off on Deep Sea Octopus, Rare Octopus, Octopuses
Good morning from the sunny Caribbean! So as promised I have a new octopus that was found by the Smithsonian Institution last friday in the “Curasub” between 900 and 1000 feet! Is this guy cool looking or what?? And again here is a mega colorful animal that lives in complete darkness so why the need to be so colorful?? As of now I don’t have a name for you and like everything new that comes up from the deep it could be a new species, that’s why we have the Worlds top scientists here to answer questions like this. How big is he you ask?? Well the empty scallop shell he is resting in is about 6 inches wide and as you can see he loves this new home! They also brought up a totally cool snake eel (that was very hard to photograph) and I will try to get him posted as well for you some time this week. As of this morning a new wave of Smithsonian scientists have arrived, many will be looking for new crabs while others are only interested in shells, so stay tuned for more!
My good news of the day is I won the Masters division of the Dutch Championships mountain bike race yesterday and my new student Dorian placed 2nd in the 15-16 year old Elite class. The race was held at Saint Joris Bay, it was five laps with a total length of 20 miles, Dorian only had to do four. Because of some totally bizarre Dutch Law/rule I was unable to be on the podium because this was a Dutch race, no Dutch passport, no trophy??? I surely would have never entered if I would have known that only Dutch people are allowed to win and will only be recognized? Yeah I will just let you guys try to figure that one out! My friends I passed and beat that were on the podium all looked back at me in total shock as well and we all went away wondering what just happened, such a weird place some times! Other than that the race was great, I had a bad start, a few flats, and I did get to ride with Dorian for a full lap, it was a great way to start the day.
I have to be underwater with the Smithsonian in 30 minutes, still lots to do!
Have a great day all!!
Sep 19, 14 Comments Off on Pluto Sphinx Moth, Xylophanes pluto, Moths
Good morning friends, sorry about the no blog yesterday but I was super busy from morning till night. My day started out photographing the Smithsonian scientists underwater in the submersible, then cleaning aquariums, more Smithsonian photos and finally at 3:00 made it to the deep-water labs to photograph a new octopus they just found at 900 feet! I will try and post the octopus on monday for you all, it’s truly a thing of beauty! Then to finish my day off I met a friend for a super fast 26 mile mountain bike to Saint Joris Bay and back and then raced to meet the Smithsonian folks for dinner at Ribs Factory, what a day!
I always get requests or questions about butterflies and moths here on the island and to be truthful I don’t see that many or at least I don’t see many that look exotic. Right now we have the annual yellow butterflies (don’t know their names) that are flying from Curacao to South America and you can watch them all day long head out to sea and within minutes they are gone! What brave little things! This beautiful Pluto Sphinx Moth, Xylophanes pluto was clinging to our back door yesterday and I of course had to rescue him by taking him to some nearby plants where he ended up spending the whole day.
The Pluto Sphinx (Xylophanes pluto) is a moth of the family Sphingidae. It is native to the Americas, where it can be found from Argentina and Paraguay to Bolivia and then through tropical and subtropical lowlands from Brazil north through Central America to Mexico, the West Indies, southern Florida and southern Texas.
The wingspan is 65 mm. The prominent broad chrome-yellow band distinguishes this species from all other Xylophanes species. The thorax is green. The abdomen has a thin medial line, interrupted at the base of each segment by a metallic yellow dot. The lateral lines are also present. The thorax and abdomen are maize-yellow, with metallic yellow scales, a few of which are also found dorso-laterally.
There are multiple generations per year in Florida and Texas. Adults are on wing year-round in the tropics.
The larvae feed on Chiococca and Erythroxylum species, and Hamelia patens and Morinda royoc. There are three color morphs, green, brown, and purplish-brown. The false eyes are conspicuous in the last form. The larvae start feeding at the beginning of dusk and keep feeding throughout the night. During the day they hide at the base of their host plant or in nearby vegetation.
I have a big mountain bike race on Sunday, it’s the Curacao Dutch Championships, wish me luck.
Have a great day,
Sep 17, 14 Comments Off on Sphoeroides dorsalalis, Deep Sea Pufferfishes
Good morning friends, it’s barely 8:00 here and the Smithsonian is already underwater looking for new fish but this time on scuba and not with the submersible. Not only are they looking for new species down to 1000 feet with the sub, they are also searching for new fish in the shallows and believe it or not there is still a lot of new stuff to be found in just a few feet of water. There are so many beautiful little fish in the shallows that no diver will ever see as they are either so small or so reclusive and many live in very hard to get to places. Once the scientists come up from their scuba dive they will then climb into the submersible and disappear down into the darkness for the rest of day in search of new deep sea creatures and fish.
Your fish of the day is one such creature that was recently found at around 600 feet with the new “Curasub”. This is a beautiful three and a half inch Sphoeroides dorsalalis, or Marbled Puffer to the rest of the World. This is one of those fish that lives in the darkness and that no diver will ever get to see unless your tuning into this blog everyday. We have a fish here in Curacao that is called a Bandtail Puffer, Sphoeroides spengleri and it can be found in depths of 5-to 35 feet and is a close relative to the Marbled Puffer.
The Bandtail puffer is usually found on seagrass beds and coral reefs, and mostly close to the bottom, where it finds adequate cover and is less likely to be spotted by predators. The preferred food items are mollusks, crustaceans and echinoderms. The marbled puffer on the other hand lives in a very different environment. Not only is it dark it’s very rocky and sandy but most likely eats the same foods as his shallow swimming cousin.
I have to get back to the labs to photograph some deep-sea urchins, anemones and crabs, so stay tuned for more fun finds.
Have a wonderful day……………
Sep 16, 14 Comments Off on Deep Water Scorpionfish, Deep water Fish
Good afternoon all, I’ve been inside the deep-water labs all morning photographing some beautiful little fish that came up from around 540-600 feet. This is a little three inch scorpionfish posing nicely inside a giant thorny oyster shell and the bottom photo is a close-up of just his cool, very colorful eye. Many have asked me if these are babies or juveniles but they are full grown adults, they just don’t get that big. It took us about a week to bring this fish and others up safely from the deep, it’s a slow process but it works. We normally drop the fish off at about 250 feet and then slowly bring them up 50 feet each day feeding them along the way.
Scorpaenidae, the scorpionfish, are a family of mostly marine fish that includes many of the world’s most venomous species. As the name suggests, scorpionfish have a type of “sting” in the form of sharp spines coated with venomous mucus. The family is a large one, with hundreds of members. They are widespread in tropical and temperate seas, but mostly found in the Indo-Pacific. They should not be confused with the cabezones, of the genus Scorpaenichthys, which belong to a separate, though related family, Cottidae.
Some types, such as the lionfish, are attractive as well as dangerous, and highly desired for aquaria. In addition to the name scorpionfish, informal names for family members include firefish, turkeyfish, dragonfish, and stingfish, usually with adjectives added.
General characteristics of family members include a compressed body, ridges and/or spines on the head, one or two spines on the operculum, and three to five spines on the preopercle. The dorsal fin has 11 to 17 spines, often long and separated from each other, and the pectoral fins are well-developed, with 11 to 25 rays. The spines of the dorsal, anal, and pelvic fins all have venom glands at their bases.
Most species are bottom-dwellers that feed on crustaceans and smaller fish. Many inhabit shallow waters, but a few live as deep as 2,200 m (7,200 ft). Most scorpionfish, such as the stonefish, wait in disguise for prey to pass them by before swallowing, while lionfish often ambush their prey. When not ambushing, lionfish may herd the fish, shrimp, or crab into a corner before swallowing. Like many perciform fishes, scorpionfish are suction feeders that capture prey by rapidly projecting a suction field generated by expansion of the fish’s buccal cavity.
Scorpaenid systematics are complicated and unsettled. Fishes of the World recognizes 10 subfamilies with a total of 388 species, while (as of 2006) FishBase follows Eschmeyer and has three subfamilies, 25 genera, and 201 species, some of the species being removed to family Sebastidae which other authorities do not follow.
I have to get back to my camera, have a wonderful day all!!
Sep 15, 14 Comments Off on Coral Spawning 2014, Curacao Coral Spawning
Good morning from the sunny Caribbean!! Aimee and I are walking around like zombies this morning after being out in the ocean till 11:00 last night filming coral spawning! Yes, it’s that time of the year again and for us it’s the one time of the year we love diving the most! Last night we entered the sea in all it’s darkness at exactly 9:30 and by 9:45 we saw our first eggs getting ready to be released. Aimee found this beautiful colony of Boulder Star Coral. Montastraea annularis that you see above and we decided immediately that this would be our 1st photo stop! When looking for coral to spawn you have to look at the individual polyps which will either have pink eggs staged and ready to go just below the surface or you won’t see a thing. This one here when we found it was minutes away from releasing it’s precious eggs, the whole colony was kind of a pink color which lets you know the show is on. So from experience we got into position and waited for the actual eggs to release which happens all at once, if you blink you would miss it! Once the eggs release they float up towards the surface where the bundles will break apart and mix with other eggs from other colonies, it’s hands down the #1 coolest thing I have and probably will ever get to see! Aimee was screaming with delight underwater and I was shooting as fast as I could, I remember wishing this dive would never end! After the show we raced off into the darkness and got to photograph and observe many more corals releasing eggs and by 10:40 it was over! Our Ikelite/GoPro setup with duel VEGA strobes worked like a dream, I can’t say it enough, you gotta get these lights!
Corals can be both gonochoristic (unisexual) and hermaphroditic, each of which can reproduce sexually and asexually. Reproduction also allows coral to settle in new areas.
Corals predominantly reproduce sexually. About 25% of hermatypic corals (stony corals) form single sex (gonochoristic) colonies, while the rest are hermaphroditic.
About 75% of all hermatypic corals “broadcast spawn” by releasing gametes eggs and sperm into the water to spread offspring. The gametes fuse during fertilization to form a microscopic larva called a planula, typically pink and elliptical in shape. A typical coral colony forms several thousand larvae per year to overcome the odds against formation of a new colony.
Synchronous spawning is very typical on the coral reef, and often, even when multiple species are present, all corals spawn on the same night. This synchrony is essential so male and female gametes can meet. Corals rely on environmental cues, varying from species to species, to determine the proper time to release gametes into the water. The cues involve temperature change, lunar cycle, day length, and possibly chemical signalling. Synchronous spawning may form hybrids and is perhaps involved in coral speciation. The immediate cue is most often sunset, which cues the release. The spawning event can be visually dramatic, clouding the usually clear water with gametes.
Busy with mountain biking and animals, hope all is well out there! The Smithsonian scientists have arrived and many just took off down to 1000 feet in the submersible, they will under for around 4-5 hours!
See you soon.
Sep 12, 14 Comments Off on Spotted Moray Eel, Gymnothorax moringa, Morays
Hey friends, we had another busy day at Substation Curacao so finally I have time to do a little chillin! We had two submersible runs again today with paid guests and I of course was waiting for them at 50 feet to take some photos as they pass by. While waiting for the sub to arrive I hung out with my buddy you see above that has been living in this cave under a mound of star coral for longer than I can remember. This is a GIANT Spotted Moray Eel, Gymnothorax moringa and he must be close to four feet in length!! During any given day you can find him right there poking his head out and just enjoying the view, at night time he is gone and out hunting for food. I of course have the greatest respect for this creature and know that he could take my hand off if he wanted to, that’s why I always keep a safe distance when taking his photo. While I laid on the sand watching him or her today I observed two Sharknose Gobies cleaning him, one can be seen clinging to the coral above his head to the right. These little cleaner fish are so brave, you can watch as they swim all over his body and even in and out of his mouth, it’s a win-win for both parties.
On the second dive I did today I found a mega tiny, just born trunkfish (see photos from 2 days ago) in a foot of water being tossed around by the big waves. I immediately opened my pocket on my BC vest and pulled out a little critter container with a lid that had holes drilled all around it and placed it near him and he swam inside. This little thing was smaller than the three I posted 2 days ago, it was super tiny and so dang cute. I normally don’t mess with sea creatures but this little baby was in the wrong spot, he was getting pounded by the waves and surge. So as I went to meet the submersible I took him with me down to 50 feet and placed him in a tiny coral cave near the others we found a few days ago. Once out of the container he immediately started eating and exploring his new calm world, I will check on him again tomorrow to make sure all is good. These little baby trunkfish normally stay very near one area for months until they are old enough to head out into the big blue, such brave little things!
We are awaiting the arrival of the first batch of Smithsonian scientists that should arrive within the hour, it will be two crazy weeks coming up so stay tuned!
Have a wonderful weekend all…..
Sep 11, 14 Comments Off on Queen Angelfish, Holacanthus ciliaris, Angelfishes
Good morning from Curacao! We are gearing up for a busy day of underwater exploration here at Substation Curacao with two dives planned starting at 11:00. I am sorry to say that our live underwater video camera is still down and not working but I will make sure and let you know once we go live again.
Here is one of the top 10 most beautiful fish in the Caribbean, the Queen Angelfish, Holacanthus ciliaris. As babies these fish are absolutely spectacular but super hard to find and very shy! This one here is a full grown adult and was around 16-18 inches in length. Unlike the French angelfish these Queens are one of the hardest animals to photograph because they are so shy, they seem to be afraid of everything! I usually end up just having to swim alongside them at top speed as I did here because they will not stop long enough for a photo.
The adult Queen angelfish overall body color can be described as blue to blue-green with yellow rims on its scales. Their pectoral and ventral fins are also yellow but their lips and the edges of their dorsal fins and anal fins are dark blue. Queen angelfish are also known to have blue markings around each gill cover. Juveniles have dark blue bodies with yellow lips, gills, and tail and vertical bars ranging in color from light blue to white. The Queen angelfish may live up to 15 years in the wild and reach up to 45 centimeters (17 inches) in length. Queen angelfish are about three and a half pounds.
Like other angelfish, much of its locomotion is produced by the pectoral fins. The outer 40% of each fin can be used to produce up to 80% of the fish’s total thrust.
The Queen angelfish feeds primarily on sponges, but also feeds on tunicates, jellyfish, and corals as well as plankton and algae. Juveniles serve as “cleaners” and feed on the parasites of larger fish at cleaning stations.
The adults are found in pairs year round, perhaps suggesting a long-term monogamous bond. The pairs reproduce by rising up in the water, bringing their bellies close together, and release clouds of sperm and eggs. The female can release anywhere from 25 to 75 thousand eggs each evening and as many as ten million eggs during each spawning cycle. The eggs are transparent, buoyant, and pelagic, floating in the water column. They hatch after 15 to 20 hours into larvae that lack effective eyes, fins, or even a gut. The large yolk sac is absorbed after 48 hours, during which time the larvae develop normal characteristics of free swimming fish. Larvae are found in the water column and feed on plankton. The larvae grow rapidly and about 3 to 4 weeks after hatching the 120 millimetres (0.6/0.8 in) long juvenile settles on the bottom.
I am off to the sea, have a great day out there!!
Sep 10, 14 Comments Off on Baby/Juvenile Smooth Trunkfish, Rhinesomus triqueter
Good evening friends, what a day!! Sorry about the late blog but yours truly has been very busy!! Yesterday after posting the blog Aimee called and begged me to come over to Dolphin Academy with my dive gear and help the trainers do underwater repairs to the dolphin lagoons. Because of this crazy wind we are getting monster waves which are causing damage to our underwater dolphin living areas. What we did in a nutshell was to lift giant rocks back into place and tie many of them down with ropes. The waves were rolling in so hard at times we couldn’t see the hand in front of your face with all the bubbling whitewater, it was actually kind of funny and I found myself laughing to myself more than once! During this event the dolphins are racing back and forth and many times they will swim over to you and just hang out right over your shoulder and watch and make their classic buzzing sound (echo locating) right in your ear. While moving the stones I noticed that all the brittle stars were out in broad daylight climbing all over each other and spawning!!! Yeah and no camera! What’s up with that you ask?? We just had a full moon which is the official start of coral spawning for September. This means from now until the 17th just about everything in the sea will be spawning, it’s my favorite time of the year because you never know what you will find! I have never seen this happen during the day and there it was happening right before my eyes! I watched as brittle star after brittle star released thousands upon thousands of beautiful pinkish purple eggs, it was one of the coolest things I ever saw underwater to date and again no camera!
Later in the evening I took off on a crazy 20 mile mountain bike “wind ride” which was about as much fun as being sick, the things we do to stay in shape!
Today Aimee was off and met me at Substation at 10:00 for a dive in hopes of seeing the brittle stars spawning again. Well no such luck with the spawning but we did find three baby Smooth Trunkfish, the hands down cutest fish in the sea!! We found the top baby at around 60 feet and he was the largest of the three at a mere one inch in length! If you look closely you can see his tail wrapped around to the right, the others are so small they don’t have much of a tail yet. For years we have been calling these things “little marbles” because of their size, they kind of just bounce around and look so vulnerable but nothing will eat them because of the protective slime they have around their bodies. The second and third baby trunkfish (pictured above) were both less than a half an inch long and both made me work for a decent photo. Look at their cute little lips, man I love these things and could watch them for hours! We are guessing that a few times a year these cuties are born in great numbers, we never see these tiny babies and today we found three! For those of you wanting to see what these guys look like as adults type in “Smooth Trunkfish” in my search box on the front page, it’s quite the transformation!
That’s about it, we have a busy day on tap tomorrow with two submersible dives and then I have a two hour bike ride starting at 5:00 with my buddy Dorian.
Off to bed.
Sep 9, 14 Comments Off on Baby Caribbean Reef Squid, Sepioteuthis sepioidea
Good morning from the windiest place in the World! This is the first year since we have been here that the spring winds which start in March are still blowing with no end in sight! For those of us cycling on a weekly basis this wind has become a major deciding factor on the routes we choose, meaning we have to stay hidden on the single-track trails and stay out of the open areas and with very little trails this gets boring real fast! My photo dives are also taking a big hit this year because of the wind as the water is so churned up making wide angle photography very difficult, I have a list of underwater to-do’s but not many clear days! We did get a brief rain last night that sent us running outside at 4:00 am to cover our turtles and find the cat, that was real fun!
We have the scientists from the Smithsonian showing up this friday and they will be here for a few weeks doing more research so stay tuned for some possible new discoveries.
Not much else for you all today, I will leave you with another shot of one of our resident baby Caribbean Reef Squids, they are just so cute!
Off to the sea….
Sep 8, 14 Comments Off on Caribbean Reef Octopus, Octopus briareus
Good morning friends, how was your weekend??? I hope all is going well out there and you having a great summer!
I have another Caribbean Reef Octopus, Octopus briareus for you all today that was photographed by Aimee, not me! Pretty nice wouldn’t you say?? We often set up two different Ikelite systems and take them out on night dives together, it’s way more fun when your both busy taking photos! This one here just sat there posing for her on a large rock and I remember just shaking my head in disbelief at the luck she was having with this giant octopus, it honestly could have cared less! By the time she finished and gave me the “OK” he decided that was about enough of the flashes and took off into the darkness, so with a high-five we took off in search of our next subject!
The Octopus is a cephalopod of the order Octopoda. They are invertebrates most closely related to squid and cuttlefish. There are over 200 species of octopuses and they inhabit all of the world’s oceans. They prefer shallower waters, especially rocky coasts or coral reefs. Octopuses have no internal bone structure or external shell and so can fit into extremely small cracks and crevices. The only hard part of their bodies is a parrot-like beak located at the bottom of their head, between their eight arms.
An octopus looks like a large domed head sitting on top of an array of swirling arms. Actually this “head” is called the mantle or body and contains all of the octopus’s vital organs – including three hearts. The majority of the octopus’s nervous system is located in its arms and these are highly flexible and amazingly strong. Each arm has two identical rows of suction cups which not only grab and hold prey, but determine the texture, shape and even taste of the item the octopus is touching. An octopus can regrow arms it has lost. The octopus will use its arms to crawl or swim about, looking for crabs, crayfish, clams and fish.
The octopus is a skilled ambush predator and uses many of its hunting tactics for its own defense. The octopus can squirt a cloud of ink to hide behind, confusing both enemies and prey as to its actual whereabouts. The ink also includes a substance that dulls an attacker’s sense of smell. Octopuses prefer to run and hide rather than fight and can shoot concentrated streams of water through their mantle and jet-propel themselves to a quick getaway. They can reach speeds of 25 mph when they do this, but only for very short periods of time. The more preferred way an octopus avoids being eaten is by not being seen. Octopuses have specialized skin cells that change their coloring to perfectly match their surroundings. They can appear to change their skin’s texture as well.
The octopus is very intelligent. Scientific experiments have proven they can learn and possess both long-term and short-term memory. Octopuses can negotiate mazes, solve puzzles, distinguish between shapes and patterns and imitate observed behavior. They are notoriously clever at escaping containment and fishermen have found octopuses breaking into the crab holds of their boats to get a meal. In deference to their intelligence, some countries require the octopus be anesthetized before scientists can conduct surgery on them. In the United Kingdom the octopus has been given honorary vertebrate status, extending to this eight-legged cephalopod the same protections against cruelty and neglect that have been extended to other animals.
For all their innovation, intelligence and abilities, octopuses don’t live very long. The Common Octopus lives about 2 years, the Giant Pacific Octopus may live for 5 years. Scientists believe the octopus is like the salmon and releases an endocrine secretion that genetically programs them for death after mating. The male usually dies a few months after sending spermatophores down one arm onto the female’s mantle cavity. The female lives long enough to lay her eggs and protect them through hatching. She does not eat during this time. She spends her days guarding the 40,000 or so eggs (depending on species), gently blowing water currents over them so the developing fetuses get enough oxygen. The female will live long enough to see her young hatch, but as they rise to the upper waters of the sea to start their lives, she will die.
Thanks to the Jungle Store for that super great text!
We have two sub dives today so I need to get ready to go, have a great day all!!