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 December, 2014

Dec 31, 14     Comments Off on Happy New Year! Designs in Brain Coral
Dec 30, 14     Comments Off on Open and Closed Christmas Tree Worm Photo

Hi friends, I have a fun “now you see it, now you don’t” kind of photo for you all today that I took during my resent search for brain corals. This is a very odd colored (but beautiful) Christmas Tree Worm, Spirobranchus giganteus shown in the top photo as “open” and the bottom photo shown as “closed”. Christmas Tree Worms are of the Class; Polychaeta, Order; Sabellida and Family Serpulidae. Serpulids build hard, calcareous tubes which are often hidden in the rock, coral, or, occasionally sponges. Their extended crown of colorful radioles form spirals and whorls. Like fan worms, the radioles are used to catch food, and will instantly retract when disturbed (bottom photo). A hardened structure, called an operculum, covers the tube opening when the worm withdraws. Horn-like growths that often extend from the operculum are useful in species identification. Christmas Tree Worms grow to about a an inch and a half in height, can be found from 10-100 feet and are one of the most common creatures found in the Caribbean.

We are back to getting rain almost every day which is needed to carry this island through the dry months ahead.

Fireworks went on sale a few days ago which means it has been crazyness starting at around 10:00am every day! Inca (our Dalmatian) is so freaked out now with every explosion that we can hardly get her to go outside to go pee, will be a horrible week for pets and wild animals! Here in Curacao as you can imagine there are NO firework regulations at all! This means China sends fireworks that would be illegal anywhere else on the planet and you don’t need a parent to buy them! Most of these fireworks are like small sticks of dynamite and the noise is insane, I am sure the hospitals will be busy this week!

Hope all is well out there, lots to do!

Barry

Dec 29, 14     Comments Off on Whitespotted filefish, Cantherhines macrocerus

Good morning friends, just two days away from 2015, can you believe it?? How was Christmas out there?? Did Santa bring you all something wonderful?? My Santa was awesome!!! I scored a super cool, handmade “mountain bike tire belt” which I can hardly wait to wear, a fun shirt with two dinosaurs playing the game of Twister, two fun  and very colorful animal carvings from Oaxaca Mexico (we collect them) and a giant canvas with three of our photos from Peru printed on it. After shredding presents and eating like Kings I took off to meet Mark and Suzi from the World famous Dive Bus Hut for their annual Christmas dive. Aimee was not feeling well enough to join so she stayed home and chilled with the dogs. We did our dive on the west side of the Aquaelectra plant and once in the water swam to the east and back. While the others hunted lionfish I swam from one brain coral to another (which were all different colors and sizes) in search of interesting designs and shooting them with the macro lens. While focused on an interesting brain coral design this very curious Whitespotted Filefish swam right up to me as if to say “what’s ya doing”?? Wow, you want to talk about a curious fish that has zero fear, well your looking at him! I actually had a hard time getting him to leave me alone, not sure if he saw his reflection in the lens or if he had just never seen a diver before but it was a pretty cool encounter! All in all I think I did around 6-7 dives these past four days mainly working on our brain coral project which you guys will see more in the coming days.

Still not feeling well and haven’t been able to ride much, not a very fun December.

Hope all is well out there!!

Barry

Dec 24, 14     Comments Off on Merry Christmas from Curacao! Christmas Tree
Dec 24, 14     Comments Off on Erect Rope Sponge, Coral Reef Photo Scene
Dec 23, 14     Comments Off on Bluestriped Grunt, Haemulon sciurus, Grunts
Dec 22, 14     Comments Off on Stony Finger Coral Polyps Open and Closed

Good morning gang, three more days till Christmas, can you believe that?? I’ve been running around like a crazy person as of late trying to get a million things done that got put on hold while I was sick, and the list is long!

I have a cool photo for you today showing how coral polyps open and close. This is a section of Finger Coral, Porites porites with the top photo showing the “open or extended” feeding polyps and the second photo showing them “closed or retracted”. The delicate polyps you see in the top photo are often extended even during the day, giving the colony a fuzzy looking appearance and sway back and forth with every passing wave (called surge) or move in the current. Brittlestars, sea urchins, crabs, shrimps, small fish and chitons often live among the tightly compacted branches of finger corals.

Finger coral colonies form smooth branches with embedded corallites and grow in several configurations (morphotypes) that were originally described as three separate species. As more research became available scientists concluded that the morphotypes were variations of one species, caused by different environmental conditions. They were then synonymized as one species, Finger Coral, Porites porites. However, recent genetic evidence now suggests there are three separate species and the re-described scientific and common names are as follows…

Clubtip Finger Coral, P.porites, has stout, irregular, stubby branches with blunt and often enlarged tips (above).

Branched Finger Coral, P. furcata, has finger-like, tight compacted branches.

Thin Finger Coral, P. divaricata, has finger-like, widely spaced branches that often divide near the tip.

The different colors of these corals range from beige to yellow-brown, brown, gray and gray with purple overtones. Branched and Thin Finger Corals are fragile while Clubtip Finger Corals break only under pressure.

I have way to much to do and our dog Indi is home sick.

Barry

Dec 18, 14     Comments Off on Bottlenose Dolphin Photo, Dolphin Photos
Dec 17, 14     Comments Off on Deep Sea Pipefish, Syngnathidae, Pipefishes
Dec 16, 14     Comments Off on Fish Faces, Stoplight Parrotfish, Sparisoma viride

Good morning all, I’m in recovery mode from my chikungunya but still a long ways a way from recovered! This horrible stuff cons you into thinking your felling better then knocks you back down, so much fun!

I am still chasing fish around every chance I get trying to get some new “face shots” but this has turned out to be one of the most difficult tasks ever! This parrotfish will go through three major color transformations with the above photo being his or her last and final color called the “Terminal Phase”. As a cute little juvenile they have three rows of widely spaced white spots that run the whole length of their bodies and have a mossy green head with a pinkish belly. As they get older they enter the “Initial Phase” and look nothing at all like the photo above, in fact most divers don’t even know the two fish are one and the same. In the initial phase the fish will have a beautiful red belly and tail and the rest of the fish is different colors of green looking almost camouflage, again it’s hard to believe they will go from this phase to what you see above. In their “Terminal Phase” (above) they are emerald green with salmon to yellow markings on head and fins with a crescent shaped tail.

We are having a quiet week, the Smithsonian is gone and the deep-divers have left, only a few runs later this week with the submersible.

Countdown to Christmas is on!

Barry

Dec 15, 14     Comments Off on Dicranodromia sp., Deep Sea Crabs, Carrier Crabs
Dec 12, 14     Comments Off on Hidden Reef Scorpionfish, Natural Camouflage
Dec 10, 14     Comments Off on Deep Juvenile Toadfish, Chaunax sp., Sea Toad

Good morning friends, I have a small, super beautiful, live 3-inch juvenile Toadfish/Sea Toad for you all today that was found at 810 feet by our friends from the Smithsonian Institution. On just about every deep-dive with the submersible (past 800 feet) we see at least one toadfish laying out in the open all by himself. They are usually partially buried in the sand or rubble just sitting there in complete darkness waiting for food to pass by. This is the first small one we have seen, usually they are quite larger up to a foot in length. If threatened this animal can fill it’s belly with water and become a floating ball making the animal very hard to eat! Once the threat has passed the animal will expel the water and go back to laying in the sand watching little fish pass by all day. He also has a “lure” in between his eyes that he can use to attract fish, once raised it looks like a little tree of sorts and is very effective. I added a second photo to better show you his “lure” which is in the lowered position. Yeah I know, talk about a face only a mother could love! You will also notice he is standing on his two super cool pelvic fins which he or she uses for standing and walking around, it’s like some spooky fish that escaped from Area 51.

Toadfish is the common name for the sluggish, bottom-feeding fishes of the genus Opsanus, found in the shallow waters from New Jersey to the Caribbean. Toadfishes feed almost entirely on crustaceans and small fishes. The head of a toadfish is broad and flat, with barbels and fleshy fringes, sharp gill covers, and spiny protrusions on the cheeks; the mouth is enormous and has many sharp teeth. The scaleless, slimy body tapers to a slender tail. Toadfishes grow to 1 ft (30 cm) in length. The eggs, sometimes laid in empty shells or tin cans, are guarded viciously by the male. The midshipmen (Porichthys species) of the same family are deepwater fishes of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, with many small luminescent organs on the underside of the body. Other members of the family are found in tropical waters and have venomous spines. Toadfishes and their relatives are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Osteichthyes, order Batrachoidiformes, family Batrachoididae.

Still sick as a dog but going to the doctor Saturday.

I’m out.

Cheers, Barry

Dec 9, 14     Comments Off on Deep Sea Stars, Linckia nodosa Perrier

Good afternoon one and all, sorry about the late post but I have been in the deep-water labs all morning photographing a bunch of new specimens found by the Smithsonian Institution on their submersible dive yesterday. I spent the morning shooting a juvenile 4-inch toadfish found at around 800 feet, a beautiful hermit crab, two more slit-shells and this giant 12-inch tall sea star you see above. We think this is a Linckia nodosa Perrier but until we know for sure I will just say “don’t quote me on that”. Unlike brittle stars that are so fragile and can move so fast, this sea star is hard and moves super slow! I watched this thing for an hour and was amazed at not only how slowly it moved but how much suction those arms have, such an amazing creature! How deep was it found you ask?? Close to 750 feet!! Are you as amazed as I am that all this stuff is not only for the most part unknown but it’s so colorful and resides deep below the Earths surface? It hurts my head to think about all the creatures and fish that no no human will ever find, there is so much down there yet to be discovered and like they say…so little time!

Echinoderms are members of the phylum Echinodermata, from the Greek words for spiny skin. This group of marine animals lives only in salt water and includes sea lilies, brittle stars, sea cucumbers, sand dollars, sea urchins, and starfish. Though not all echinoderms actually have spiny skin, in most cases it does have a very rough texture, and some species also wield toxic spines as a defense mechanism. These complex invertebrates possess many distinctive features.

An adult echinoderm has a body made up of equal sections, usually five or a multiple of five, that surround a central point. In starfish and brittle stars, each of these sections is in the form of an arm-like appendage that points away from the center like a wheel spoke. Often each body section will house a duplicate set of internal organs.

Echinoderms possess the remarkable ability to regrow lost limbs or other body parts, even internal organs. When attacked, many will gradually regenerate a damaged or severed limb after the wound has closed up. Also, some species can use regeneration to reproduce by deliberately breaking themselves apart, after which each piece will grow into a whole new organism.

Still fighting my weird sickness, I feel good for a few hours and then WHAM” I get hit with it all over again, meaning sick to my stomach and my back starts hurting, so bizarre!

Two weeks till Christmas and we haven’t even put up our driftwood Christmas tree or any lights, talk about waiting till the last minute!

I have to run…

Barry

 

 

Dec 8, 14     Comments Off on Ocean Surgeonfish Aggregations, Acanthuridae

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