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.

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Archive for November, 2014

Nov 28, 14     Comments Off on Blue Light Photos, Great Star Coral Polyps

Good morning all, it’s Black Friday!! I have been so busy this week with Holiday parties, work and cycling that my poor daily blog is just not getting done!

I have a crazy beautiful colony of Great Star Coral, Montastraea cavernosa that we photographed the other night with our alien looking blue-lights. Shooting “OPEN POLYPS” like you see above has turned out to be a real challenge! Why you ask, go ahead ask why!! Because coral polyps are super sensitive to light! What we are trying to do now is to sneak up on them if you will and some times it works and other times it doesn’t. When we spot our “to be photo” I now try to NOT shine any light on them until the last second, it’s a case of “one shot one kill”! If we hover over them for more than a few seconds all these open polyps you see above will quicky close and if we want to re-shoot it again we would have to come back in say 30 minutes when they re-open, you just gotta be fast and your exposure and light has to be perfect.

Yesterday for Thanksgiving Aimee and I got up early and took the dogs for a three hour beach combing adventure to the north coast in search of new fun driftwood but to our surprise we found very little. We did find one big piece that looks like a sailboat, we just need to add a cabin, mast and sail and it should be super cool when finished. We have had almost a whole week now without rain but there are still standing puddles everywhere making driving and cycling along the coast challenging at times. We are going to ride the 40 mile Extreme course again early tomorrow morning, this time at more of a race pace, I’m hoping there is not much mud! At 4:00 yesterday I met two of the fastest teens on the island and we took of on a two hour, 25 mile sprint. The kids have yet to catch me on the single-track trails but I was struggling at times to keep up to them on the road, man are they fast! We had a great Thanksgiving meal last night compliments of two American ladies that we met this week and invited us to their hotel for dinner, it was fantastic!

We have a submersible dive at 11:00, I need to get ready to go.

Have a great day…

Barry

Nov 25, 14     Comments Off on Live Slit-Shell, Entemnotrochus adansonianus

Hello readers, first off… so sorry about the NO blog for the past few days but my Word Press/Coral Reef Photos site needed updated and backed-up and had to be done by someone other than myself. Sorry but I’m not a computer expert!

Here’s a new, live Slit Shell for you all today called Entemnotrochus adansonianus, Crosse & Fisher, 1861. Most of the live slit-shells I photograph are super shy and won’t come out to feed or explore for hours but this one for the first time ever was ready to go! I stayed in the lab for hours watching this guy climb all over everything and eating the thin layer of algae that covered the rocks and old ceramic bottle you see here. Look closely and you can see his little black eye located below his two tentacles. His mouth is stuck to the side of the jug sucking algae and the rest of his body you see around the edges of the shell is called his foot.

Here’s a small note from a pleurotomariid expert that wrote in this morning… “the bright colors in some shells and animals from deep water are astonishing…but don’t forget that yellow and red/pink colorations are the first to be filtered out by the light (wavelengths) reaching those depths….and thus are a kind of hiding colors in these depths for predators …..there’s also a hypothesis that particular color pigments present in the encrusting sponges, which form the mean diet in most slit-shell species, are incorporated into the outer prismatic layers during shell development (and those yellow and red encrusting sponges are found around the same habitat where adansonianus lives, in the same depth cline).”

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. It’s safe to say that most shell collectors will cry when they see this, these shells 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?? 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.

We are having a very busy week at Substation Curacao and our underwater live video camera is finally up and running again, here is the address again and remember there is a one hour delay in what your seeing, meaning it happened an hour ago.

www.seesubmarine.com

We are still in our rainy season, the island looks like a tropical rain forest and is making my cycling very difficult. Saturday morning I took off to Porto Mari and back but that was mostly a road ride due to that nights rain, it turned out to be a not so fun 31 mile ride.

The sea is so rough lately but it’s bringing in tons of beautiful driftwood from somewhere?? Tomorrow we are going over the north coast to do some more collecting and to haul some bigger pieces home that I stashed in a hiding spot this weekend. Remember our driftwood Christmas tree from last year? Well I am working on making it bigger and better for this year. I found a new post and I have a few new better bases to now choose from, I hope I can get it done in time.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my Stateside Americano’s!!

I am off to the sea…

Barry

 

 

Nov 20, 14     Comments Off on Rusty Goby, Priolepis hipoliti, Deep Sea Gobies
Nov 19, 14     Comments Off on Snow Bass, Serranus chionaraia, Deep Sea Bass
Nov 18, 14     Comments Off on Octopus Eye, Common Octopus vulgaris
Nov 17, 14     Comments Off on Spotted Trunkfish, Lactophrys bicaudalis, Boxfishes

Good morning from the Curacao rain forests! Since you last heard from me it has basically been raining and at times very hard! This is the official start of the rainy season and the island has gone from blow away in the wind dry to soaking wet green almost overnight! The downside to all the rain is the mosquitos and our mosquitos are the size of hummingbirds! We currently have a sickness that is sweeping the island called Chikungunya which is transmitted through infected mosquito bites! There are currently 25 Caribbean nations battling this sickness and many of our friends are home sick with it, we are keeping the doors shut at home and swinging our electronic zappers non-stop!

I have a very small juvenile Spotted Trunkfish, Lactophrys bicaudalis for your viewing pleasure today that I found last friday. These boxfish are more difficult to find than the Smooth Trunkfish and they are hundred times more shy! We rarely see these little two inch juveniles, they really stay hidden and even as adults avoid divers, which is funny because their cousins the smooth trunkfish are everywhere and very curious.

So good news, we found a home for our flightless parakeet. We spent friday evening getting his giant cage downstairs (what a major task), cleaning it and then on saturday loading it in the back of a borrowed pick-up. Then at 1:00 driving him and his dwelling out to a bird sanctuary of sorts to be with others of his kind. A photo was sent to me this morning of him in his cage with two others, this is the first time since we rescued him that he has had room-mates, it’s a wonderful thing!

Biking has been difficult as of late with all the rain, my trails are pretty flooded so I am sticking to just riding on the road, not a whole lot of fun!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my Mom, will try to call her this evening and she what she did on her special day!!

Have a great day all!!

Barry

Nov 13, 14     Comments Off on Orange Cup Corals Seen Under Blue-Light
Nov 12, 14     Comments Off on Juvenile Striped Parrotfish, Scarus iserti

Good afternoon folks. I have some baby/juvenile Striped Parrotfish, Scarus iserti for your viewing pleasure today. Like most parrotfish these little sweethearts will go through four different stages and color changes in their life starting with larval, juvenile (above), initial and a terminal phase. Juvenile Striped Parrotfish can be seen just about anywhere here on the Curacao reefs. They are usually found in groups of mixed species of the similar age and for the most part appear unconcerned. They constantly stop to scrape algae from rocks and corals giving you photographers ample time for those seemingly hard to get photos. After a few weeks these little two inch juveniles will start their 1st changes into adulthood starting with a yellow tail and the yellow disappearing on their nose and forehead. Then comes the major change with most of the browns disappearing being replaced with beautiful shades of blue, yellows, pinks, and some serious beautiful aqua highlights, parrotfish are just plain cool! In most pictures you will find on the web it looks like they have white stripes but this is because the camera flash destroys the light blue color that is supposed to be there. Shooting at a higher F-stop and a little less light one should be able to capture their real colors.

We got up early today and took off to Saint Joris bay to walk the dogs and to some beach combing and as usual we packed home a bunch of little beach treasures. Well one piece wasn’t so little, it was a six foot piece of driftwood in the shape of a long, hollowed out bowl that will look super cool on legs, we couldn’t resist! The dogs had a great time and are now in air-co heaven having puppy dreams, Inca’s foot is finally back to normal but Indi has some kind of weird skin infection that we are trying to fight, it’s always something!

We are planning on doing a fun blue-light night dive tonight so I need to get all that gear ready to go which will take quite awhile!

Stay warm out there friends……….

Caribbean regards,

Barry

Nov 11, 14     Comments Off on Fish Faces, Caribbean Fish Face Photos
Nov 10, 14     Comments Off on Harlequin Bass, Serranus tigrinus, Sea Basses
Nov 7, 14     Comments Off on Atlantic Giant Cockle, Live Curacao Sea-Shells

Good afternoon friends, I found what I think is a Atlantic Giant Cockle or Great Heart Cockle, Dinocardium robustum while night diving at around 50 feet out in front of our Substation lagoon. The top photo is what I saw first and what made me stop and got me thinking, “what the heck is that”?? With a closer look and the wave of a hand over the sand I could see it was a live shell buried with it’s mouth open. I then fanned my hand more until all the sand was gone and you could see the whole animal as you see in photo 2 and 3. Then once the sand settled I set him back down and within minutes he reburied himself, (photo 4 and 5) what a cool little creature!

A cockle is a small, edible, saltwater clam, a mollusk in the family Cardiidae. Various species of cockles live in sandy, sheltered beaches throughout the world. The distinctive rounded shells of cockles are bilaterally symmetrical, and are heart-shaped when viewed from the end. Numerous radial evenly-spaced ribs occur in most but not all genera (for an exception, see the genus Laevicardium, the egg cockles, which have very smooth shells). Cockle shells are able to close completely (i.e., they do not have a “gape” at any point around their edges). Though they may superficially resemble scallops, cockles can be distinguished from scallops morphologically in that cockle shells lack “auricles” (triangular ear shapes near the hinge line) and scallop shells lack a pallial sinus. Behaviorally, cockles also live buried in sediment whereas scallops live on the sea floor attached by a byssus or are free-living.

The mantle has three apertures (inhalant, exhalant, and pedal) for siphoning water and for the foot to protrude. Cockles typically burrow using the foot, and feed by filtering plankton from the surrounding water. Cockles are capable of “jumping” by bending and straightening the foot. As is the case in many bivalves, cockles display gonochorism (the sex of an individual varies according to conditions), and some species reach maturity quickly.

Confusingly, the common name “cockle” is also given (by seafood sellers) to a number of other small, edible marine bivalves which have a somewhat similar shape and sculpture, but are in other families such as the Veneridae (Venus clams) and the Arcidae (ark clams). Cockles in the family Cardiidae are sometimes known as “true cockles” to distinguish them from these other species.

There are more than 200 living species of cockles, with many more fossil forms. The common cockle, Cerastoderma edule, is widely distributed around the coastlines of Northern Europe, with a range extending west to Ireland, the Barents Sea in the north, Norway in the east, and as far south as Senegal. The dog cockle, Glycymeris glycymeris, has a similar range and habitat to the common cockle, but is unrelated. It is inedible due to its toughness when cooked, although a process is being developed to solve this. The blood cockle, Anadara granosa (not related to the true cockles, instead in the family Arcidae) is extensively cultured from southern Korea to Malaysia.

Have a great weekend all, I have to take my bike in to get it fixed for my ride on Sunday.

Barry

 

Nov 6, 14     Comments Off on Sleeping Parrotfish, Parrotfish Cocoon, Parrotfish
Nov 5, 14     Comments Off on Whimsical Fish Face Photo, Porcupinefish Face

Good morning all, remember a week ago when I posted the story about the giant porcupinefish we saved on the beach?? Here is the link to that story if you didn’t get to read it…

http://www.coralreefphotos.com/cleaning-station-photo-cleaner-fish-blue-tang/

Well this looks just like the one we saved and is about the same size except this one is our buddy who lives out on our reef in front of the Substation and we see him just about every time we go out! I mean really talk about a fish with a great expression!! You can easily see why these giant odd shaped swimmers are one of my hands down favorites and why divers love them so much!! Photos like this are made possible thanks to our friends at Ikelite who make the Worlds finest strobes and housings for your underwater photography pleasure! And NO you don’t need to spend $10,000 on a camera, housing and strobes to get these type of photos, Ikelite has a housing for just about any brand of point and shoot camera and all you need is a strobe or two to go with it! It’s really all about light!

And since we are on the subject of Ikelite, check out our new DEEP SEA STAMPS that they posted on their site yesterday at www.ikelite.com  And since your there check out the drop down menu at the top that says “INSPIRATION”. Here you will find articles and tutorials, video’s and galleries, photos school and the Ambassadors. Those of you with GoPro’s will loose your mind when you see the sexy tray and VEGA video lights that are just bgging to be wrapped for Christmas, I love my set more than anything and use them everyday! Here is the link for those, http://www.ikelite.com/lighting/2107.2-vega-dual-kit-gopro-flex.html

Getting ready for a blue-light dive this evening and can hardly wait, have a great day!!

See you soon,

Barry

 

Nov 4, 14     Comments Off on Deep Sea Hermit Crab Found Living in a Sponge

Good morning friends, I have a very rare, “monotypic” hermit crab called Protoniopagurus bioperculatus, in full splendor that was brought up last friday by the Smithsonian Institution and our crew at Substation Curacao from 808 feet!! This is such a major cool find!! In the four years I have been photographing deep-water hermits this is the first one like this I have seen. The little round piece of sponge that he lives in and carries everywhere is only about an inch and a half in diameter. And since this is a sponge home he is hauling around it weighs almost nothing meaning this guy can flat out move on the sand compared to his other relatives that are using discarded shells and rocks. He was found out on a barren stretch of sand by our boss Dutch who said “he was easy to spot as he was the only thing moving, and he was moving fast”! The bottom photo shows how this crab hides himself when danger is present, he pulls his whole body into the sponge and uses those two giant claws as door.

For those of you stuck on the word “Monotypic” (above) I found this for you…..

A monotypic species is one that does not include subspecies or smaller, infraspecific taxa. Although the phrase appears to indicate that a taxon has a single type specimen (with no syntypes, lectotypes, or other types), this is not the usage. In the case of genera, the term “unispecific” is sometimes preferred. In short, he’s RARE!

The last of our Smithsonian group left this morning but will be back again before Christmas, we sure love having them all here!

Well lots to do, have a wonderful day….

Barry

Nov 3, 14     Comments Off on Deep Water Spider Crab, Giant Crabs, Anomalothir

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