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 May, 2015
May 29, 15 Comments Off on Juvenile Spotted Drum Video, Black & White Fish
Hi friends, as a reminder, watch this in 720p HD and not the standard 360p. To do this click PLAY, then click on the little gear at the bottom right corner of the video, it’s in between a clock and a frame, click on the gear and change to 720pHD.
This is a juvenile Spotted Drum that has been in this same little spot for almost a month now, they are so cute and very territorial. This little black and white fish is only about two inches in length and spends the whole day just swimming in circles, talk about an easy life! What I find amazing is, this drum lives at the entrance to where my giant moray eel lives, he’s four foot long , the eel completely ignores the drum who swims in front of his face all day and the drum seems to just not care, that’s one brave little fish!
Our family members arrived in perfect shape last night, they are currently touring downtown Curacao with Aimee and then going to a big grocery store, that alone will be a crazy adventure!
Sorry so short…
May 28, 15 Comments Off on School of Caribbean Reef Fish, Live Aquarium
Hi friends, I have another fun video for you all but should to be watched in 720p HD and not the standard 360p, like all the rest of my video’s. To do this you have to either go to Youtube via this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aYA-5Ty4vyE and click on the little gear at the bottom right corner of the video, it’s in between a clock and a frame OR just click on the little gear on my blog page after the video starts and change to 720pHD. The downside to the blog page is your watching it so small, on Youtube you can view in two different sizes.
Our family members are in route and arrive tonight, to say we are excitted is an understatement! Be warned I may be busy this next week but will try my best to log on and toss some underwater entertainment your way!
Be well out there..
May 27, 15 Comments Off on Scorpionfish Eye, Fish Eyes, Macro Eye Photo
Good morning from one of the driest places on the planet! I would have never dreamed in a million years that islands in the Caribbean go for so long without rain but unbelievably it’s true! Our once beautiful forest is now a desert and it’s bone dry! My poor trails are like mountain biking on powdered sugar and if the wind is blowing… well, it’s just not a good time, not even the dogs want to go out any more! We continue to take water and food out to the desert everyday and the animals are of course loving it! This morning I had a little hermit crab problem and once again brought home 2 hermits without shells?? Yeah, they won’t live long without those. I had some spares here at work and will take them home to them right after doing this.
I have a close-up shot of a scorpionfish eye for you all today, thought I would give you a little break on the video’s.
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.
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 metres (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 in to 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.
I have a long training ride tonight with two of my students who have a race out here next weekend on all my trails, I may or may not enter.
We have Aimee’s sister and family arriving tomorrow night for 10 days so I may be away from the computer at times, we have lots of fun activities already planned!
Have a wonderful day..
May 26, 15 Comments Off on Beautiful Red Lionfish Floating on a Curacao Reef
Good morning friends, on yesterdays dive with Stijn we found or should I say he found the hands down most carefree lionfish I have ever seen!! This beautiful redish color lionfish was over a foot long and just hanging out on in the middle of the reef like he owned the place, maybe that’s because he knows he does?? As most of you know by now the east coast of America, the Bahamas and the Caribbean are under attack by a species of fish that is not supposed to be here, these are called lionfish and are some of the most spectacular creatures you will ever see!
Lionfish or Pterois volitans, which makes up approximately 93% of the invasive lionfish population, is also commonly called red lionfish and Pterois miles is often called the common lionfish or devil firefish. However, their common names do not match the origins of their scientific names. The genus name, Pterois, pronounced (tare-oh-eese) is defined in modern dictionaries as simply lionfish, however the word Pterois comes from the Greek word pteroeis meaning feathered or winged and the Ancient Greek word, ÏÏÎµÏÏŒÎ½ (pteron), meaning feather or wing. The species name, volitans, pronounced (vole-ee-tahnz), is Latin for flying or hovering and the present participle of the Latin word volitÅ, which means to fly or to hover. The species name, miles, pronounced (mee-layz), is Latin for soldiering and the present participle of the Latin word mÄ«litÅ, which means to soldier.
No one is quite sure where the name lionfish really came from but it would be a logical guess that when both pectoral fins are completely extended and fanned out a head-on view of the lionfish might resemble a male lion’s mane. Others have also suggested that it might be a tip of the hat to the lionfish as a ferocious predator.
Pterois fish in the Atlantic range from 5 to 45 cm (2.0 to 17.7 in) in length, weighing from 0.025 to 1.3 kg (0.055 to 2.866 lb). They are well known for their ornate beauty, venomous spines, and unique tentacles. Juvenile lionfish have a unique tentacle located above their eye sockets that varies in phenotype between species. The evolution of this tentacle is suggested to serve to continually attract new prey; studies also suggest it plays a role in sexual selection.
Pterois species can live from five to 15 years and have complex courtship and mating behaviors. Females release two mucus-filled egg clusters frequently, which can contain as many as 15,000 eggs. Studies on Pterois reproductive habits have increased significantly in the past decade. All the species are aposematic: they have conspicuous coloration with boldly contrasting stripes and wide fans of projecting spines, advertising their ability to defend themselves.
According to a study that involved the dissection of over 1,400 lionfish stomachs from Bahamian to North Carolinian waters, Pterois fish prey mostly on small fish, invertebrates, and mollusks in large amounts, with some specimens’ stomachs containing up to six different species of prey. The amount of prey in lionfish stomachs over the course of the day suggests lionfish feed most actively from 7:00“11:00 am, with decreased feeding throughout the afternoon. Lionfish are skilled hunters, using specialized bilateral swim bladder muscles to provide exquisite control of location in the water column, allowing the fish to alter its center of gravity to better attack prey. The lionfish then spreads its large pectoral fins and swallows its prey in a single motion. They blow jets of water while approaching prey, apparently to disorient them.
The red lionfish is found off the East Coast of the United States and the Caribbean Sea, and was likely first introduced off the Florida coast by the early to mid-1990s. This introduction may have occurred in 1992 when Hurricane Andrew destroyed an aquarium in southern Florida, releasing six lionfish into Biscayne Bay. However, a lionfish was discovered off the coast of Dania Beach, south Florida, as early as 1985, prior to Hurricane Andrew. The lionfish resemble those of the Philippines, implicating the aquarium trade. The lionfish may have been purposefully discarded by unsatisfied aquarium enthusiasts. In 2001, NOAA documented several sightings of lionfish off the coast of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Bermuda, and as far north now as Delaware. In August 2014, when the Gulf Stream was discharging into the mouth of the Delaware Bay, two lionfish were caught by a surf fisherman off the ocean side shore of Cape Henlopen State Park: one red one that weighed 1 pound 4.5 ounces and one common one that weighed 1 pound 2 ounces. Three days later a 1 pound 3 ounce red lionfish was caught off the shore of Broadkill Beach which is in the Delaware Bay approximately 15 miles north of Cape Henlopen State Park. Lionfish were first detected in the Bahamas in 2004. Recently they have been discovered as far east as Barbados, and as far south as the Los Roques Archipelago and many Venezuelan continental beaches.
If you can change your viewing settings put it at 720, then you will see these in HD.
Have a wonderful all…..
May 25, 15 Comments Off on Large Aggregation of Colorful Blue Tangs
Good morning friends, I’ve been posting photos of blue tang aggregation for years and finally have a little video clip (watch in 720) that better explains this crazy underwater sight. I have two parts to this video as I followed them a long time, it’s just such a cool thing to witness!
We see these large groups called aggregations on the reef here every single day and I still never seem to get tired of it, they are just so beautiful. Adult blue tangs have three social modes: territorial, wandering, and schooling. Territorial adults defend their home rage from other members of the species. Schooling adults are not aggressive. Wanderer adults are not aggressive nor do they interact with other individuals like schooling fish do. Wanderers are mostly chased by other fish including Ocean surgeonfish and damselfishes. Occasionally, Blue Tangs form large multi-species aggregations with other surgeonfishes as seen above.
Blue tangs may benefit from forming schools for two reasons. First, individuals may experience lower rates of predation when feeding in large groups. Second, by feeding in groups, fish might be able to work together to overcome the territorial defenses of other fishes. For example, a single blue tang is easily chased away by an aggressive damselfish defending its territory. However, when a large school of blue tangs and their schoolmates try to feed on algae in a damselfish’s territory, there is little that the damselfish can do. When this occurs, the damselfish frantically, but ultimately fruitlessly, attempts to chase away their more numerous attackers while the school consumes all of the algae in their territories.
Blue tangs are active during the day, hiding in crevices on the reef at night to avoid predators.
Juvenile blue tangs are solitary and occupy home ranges that increase with body size. Juveniles aggressively defend their home ranges from juvenile ocean surgeonfish. Juveniles also avoid damselfishes that overlap in range with them.
How was your weekend?? Still no rain here in Curacao, it’s scary dry and not so beautiful to look at! I did a 35 mile mountain bike ride yesterday morning which took two hours and forty five minutes and got home just as the crazy winds started up again, talk about not fun to be out in! This morning Stijn is coming over to go out diving with me, he just arrived for the states and will be here for a few months during his summer break.
Have a great day all…..
May 22, 15 Comments Off on Scrawled Filefish Video, Odd Shaped Reef Fish
Hi boys and girls, I have a short but fun clip for you all today of a beautiful 16 inch scrawled filefish that I found out on the reef a few hours ago. You may have to watch this on Youtube as it’s so small, here is the link.
Check out the sharp spine on top of it’s head, this can be raised or lowered depending on how worried he or she is and as you can see he or she is a bit concerned. This ultra cool fish like so many others can change colors in the blink of eye, it’s truly one of the top coolest fish in the Caribbean sea.
Have a great day..
May 21, 15 Comments Off on Smooth Trunkfish Searching for Breakfast in Curacao
Hi gang, sorry about the lazy blogs this week but I am having a weird week. I have a super cool, medium sized smooth trunkfish for you all today that I found yesterday at around 45 feet on the Sea Aquarium house reef. As I followed I noticed all he or she wanted to do was to eat but as you can see the reef is full of crazy little damselfish that guard every inch of property out there and hate trespassers!
Rhinesomus triqueter, the smooth trunkfish, is a species of boxfish found on and near reefs in the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and subtropical parts of the Western Atlantic Ocean. It is the only known member of its genus.
The smooth trunkfish has an angular body sheathed in plate-like scales, growing to a maximum length of 47 centimetres (19 in), though 20 cm (8 in) is a more normal size. The body is enclosed in a bony carapace and, when viewed from the front, is triangular in shape with a narrow top and wide base. The fish has a pointed snout with protuberant lips encircling a small mouth. The tail is shaped like a brush. The general background colour is dark with a pattern of small white spots, often in hexagonal groups giving a honeycomb-like appearance in the middle area of the body. The tip of the snout and the area round the pectoral fins are dark with few spots and the eyes are black. The fins are usually yellowish with a dark base and tips. They have only soft rays with no spines.
The juveniles have dark colored bodies covered in large yellow spots. As they get older, they develop a pale area where the honeycomb markings will later appear.
The smooth trunkfish is found down to a depth of about 50 m (164 ft) on coral reefs and over sandy seabeds in the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and the western Atlantic Ocean. The range extends from Canada and the Gulf of Maine southwards to Brazil.
The smooth trunkfish is normally solitary but sometimes moves around in small groups. It uses its protuberant lips to expel a jet of water which disturbs the sandy seabed and reveals any shallowly buried benthic invertebrates. It feeds on small molluscs, polychaete worms, acorn worms, peanut worms, small crustaceans, sponges and tunicates.
Our submersible is on the way up the reef with Carole Baldwin inside so I better get out there and see if they found anything…
Have a great day.
May 20, 15 Comments Off on Diving Through Swaying Gorgonians in Curacao
Hey guys, I was once again under the waves this morning shooting some video and thought a little soft coral would be perfect for today. The video starts out with a beautiful giant anemone and then slowly heads up the reef through a variety of swaying gorgonians, it’s just so peaceful!!
Sorry so short, lots going on….
May 19, 15 Comments Off on Female Sergeant Major Guarding Her Eggs
Good afternoon friends, about a week ago I sent you some photos of a Sergeant Major guarding his eggs, you can either just scroll down to see it or click on this link to refresh your memory.
So this morning while I was under the sea I thought why not try and get a little video-clip that better shows how these fish constantly fan their eggs and how dedicated they are to ensuring their survival. If you look closely you will see a one foot square area of lavender colored eggs all glued to the side of this rock, these are about a week old now. When freshly laid the eggs are a beautiful dark purple color and as time passes and the little ones start to grow they start turning a much lighter almost grey color. In the beginning of the film you will see a little black fish with a yellow tail pass by, that’s a little sea bass called a Yellowtail Hamlet. The Sergeant Major knows that this little bass is not after her or her eggs and therefor is left unbothered. With that said, any other fish that passes to close to her eggs will be chased off and folks this little six inch fish can be very aggressive! Now normally it’s the job of the male Sergeant Major to guard the eggs so I’m not quite sure what is going on here, maybe a lunch break?? The male is usually a very dark blue or purple color and doesn’t have these very noticeable yellow stripes. Can you imagine laying your eggs (thousands of them) on the side of a rock out in plain site and having to defend it from an ocean full of hungry fish??? At least at night she can chill and go to sleep, what a life!!! For those of interested, I found this fantastic information on why fish fan their eggs…..Check it out!!
I had a fun weekend and got to spend all day Sunday with Carole Baldwin from the Smithsonian Institution, you know her, the Worlds leading authority on Caribbean reef fish! Her and I spent a good part of the day beach combing and chillin on the beach and then at 4:00 took off on a 33 mile, three hour mountain bike ride, I was done and it was game over by 8:00! Oh yeah, this is funny… I locked my keys in my car while at the beach but luckily left the window down about 3 inches. At first we both just looked at each other in disbelief and tried a few things that didn’t work. So as a last resort, I was holding a full size garden rake (don’t ask why) and to my complete astonishment it fit in through the window! I put the metal part in first and then since the handle was so long was able to hook my keys that were in the ignition and pull them out, it really could not have been easier and took less than a minute, I’m now thinking everyone should carry a rake!!!
Have a wonderful day!!
May 15, 15 Comments Off on Opening and Closing Magnificent Feather Dusters
Good afternoon friends, I have three Magnificent Feather Dusters, Sabellastarte magnifica for you today that I shot a few hours ago at around 50 feet. Watch as they open one by one and then quickly close, talk about cool animals! These animals have to be one of the coolest creatures on the reef and can be found almost everywhere. Feather duster worms open their feathery plumage to filter plankton and other microscopic nourishment from the ocean and sway back and fourth with each passing wave. Feather duster worms are found sprouting from holes in coral heads like bouquets of flowers. These worms are extremely sensitive to movement and will pull their plumage back into their protective tube in a split second if approached by a fish or diver. These three here have found a wonderful home right in the middle of a field of Finger Coral with a wonderful view of the reef!
Yesterday was another Curacao holiday and we made the most of our free day off! Starting at 6:30 am Aimee and I took off on our mountain bikes on a 25 mile ride, the farthest my dearest has ever pedaled to date. We more or less started near a little town called Montana and did this fantastic loop along the north coast and back taking us around two and a half hours, it was super beautiful! Once home we rushed out to the desert and filled all the bird baths up with water and left a ton of seed, and of course all the animals were there to thank us. We then went beach combing for an hour and then home to bed for a two hour nap with the dogs. At 4:00 we took off on yet another adventure with the dogs to Saint Joris Bay and collected driftwood and beach treasures till dark. Once we got home we washed two dirty and tired dogs and called it “game over”, what a fun day!
Have a super great weekend all..
May 13, 15 Comments Off on School of Caribbean Reef Fish in Curacao
Good afternoon friends, I have a short but fun clip of some of our local residents swimming in circles in around 15-20 feet of crystal clear Caribbean water. Most of the yellow striped fish you see are Smallmouth Grunts with a few French Grunts mixed in there as well. These fish are all around 7-9 inches in length and are rarely found deeper than 60 foot. Looking more closely you will also see different species of parrotfish, blue tangs, sergeant majors, wrasses and on an on, this is an everyday “quick look” into what we see every time we head out for a dive.
Super busy today, I hope all is well out there!!
May 12, 15 Comments Off on Spotted Trunkfish, Lactophrys bicaudalis
Good morning from the windy, dry Caribbean! I have a cute Spotted Trunkfish, Lactophrys bicaudalis for your viewing pleasure today that I found a few days ago hiding inside a big cave. Here in the Curacao we have three species of trunkfish, the Buffalo Trunkfish, Lactophrys trigonus, the Smooth Trunkfish, Lactophrys triqueter and the Spotted Trunkfish, Lactophrys bicaudalis as seen above. Of these three, the buffalo trunkfish is by far the hardest to find and I think if memory serves me right I have only ever seen one and yes I did get a photo. The second hardest to find is the spotted trunkfish, (above) they are so shy and seemingly scared of their own shadows?? And last is the smooth trunkfish that can be found in great numbers all over the reef and for some reason are not afraid of anything?
Spotted trunkfish are shy but curious fish that swim slowly above reefs, often hovering under ledges or over small holes. They prefer warm temperatures between 22 and 26 degrees C (72 and 79 F) and depths between 4.5 and 18 meters (15 and 60 ft). Trunkfish are protected by a bony outer surface that acts as body armor and includes two sharp spines guarding their rear fins. The rigid outer structure helps protect spotted trunkfish from predators, but they are poor swimmers because of their rigidity and bulky shape. At maturity they average 15 to 30 cm (6 to 12 in) in length.
These fish are very weary of divers unlike the more common Smooth Trunkfish that you can almost pet. These guys spend their days hiding in the reef and unless your really looking for them you probably won’t see one. The Smooth Trunkfish on the other hand is out in the open all day and those can be found everywhere on the reef either digging in the sand looking for food or eating algae off rocks. Since we have been here we have only seen 3 or 4 juvenile Spotted Trunkfishes, those are so hard to find and are on our Holy Grail fish finding list.
Have a great day out there…
May 11, 15 Comments Off on Baby/Juvenile Caribbean Reef Squids, Curacao
Good morning one and all, how are you doing out there?? I trust all our mothers out there had a wonderful Mother’s Day?? I heard our friends in the Black Hills of South Dakota got hit with a major snow storm this weekend which is normal for April but in May??? Here in Curacao we have had record-breaking, non-stop hurricane force winds for the past three weeks making life very difficult! Because of these gale-force winds we had to more or less close Dolphin Academy to swimmers the whole week because of Hawaii sized waves rolling in and crashing over the walls and sinking one of our big floating platforms! On top of that, our island has had no rain for months now and everything is bone dry, boy do I miss our rainy season and would do anything to get it back!
I really didn’t do much this weekend again mostly because of the wind but did get in a quick two hour mountain bike ride Sunday morning very early before the winds started.
I have another baby squid for you all today and yes….it’s amazing how much they look like and act like a full size adult squid! Looking at this photo you would never know this little sweetheart is only around four inches in length. Over the years most of you have learned that most baby fish start out with completely different colors and go through many coloration changes before adulthood, but not these squids. As little babies they are able to squirt ink, change colors in the blink of an eye and catch little fish just like their parents, talk about cool animals!
I have to be underwater soon to photograph guests in our submersible so I better get moving!
Have a great Monday….
May 8, 15 Comments Off on Deep Sea Toadfish, Chaunax sp, Sea Toad
Good morning friends, I had a request weeks ago asking for a photo of a deep-sea Toadfish/Sea Toad in the wild which is not an easy request but I found one! This beautiful creature was found at 875 feet by the Smithsonian Institution and our crew from Substation Curacao. 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 one here was close 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. 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. We have a custom-made housing on the outside of the submersible with a Nikon D-90 inside and an external flash. To focus we have to tiny little laser beam dots that act as our eyes, if the dots are where you want them, then simply take your picture, it really works great!
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.
Have a wonderful weekend….
May 7, 15 Comments Off on Philippe Cousteau, Earthecho.com, Explorers
Good morning from Curacao!! So when you hear the name “Cousteau” what’s the first thing to come to mind??? For me it’s wild ocean adventures aboard a scientific ship, swimming with sharks, dolphins and whales and exploring the unknown and finding something new for the first time! Jacques Cousteau did all this and so much more and showed the World over and over that the oceans are not just filled with water. This is Philippe Cousteau (above) son of Philippe Cousteau Sr., famous son of the legendary explorer Jacques Yves Cousteau. Philippe stopped by Substation Curacao yesterday with his film crew and spent a good part of the day with us shooting a segment for his FOX series “Xploration Awesome Planet”.
Philippe Cousteau has established himself as a prominent leader in the environmental movement. An award-winning television host, producer, author, speaker, philanthropist and social entrepreneur. His life-mission is to empower people to recognize their ability to change the world. Philippe is the host and executive producer of Awesome Planet a new syndicated series that airs each week on sat mornings on Fox and then again on HULU. He is currently co-producing and co-hosting multi-part documentary series about whales and dolphins in the wild. The first installment, Orcas: The Wild Truth is filming in July 2014. As a special correspondent for CNN International he has hosted several award-winning shows including Going Green and Expedition Sumatra. Over the years he has hosted television series for the BBC, Animal Planet and Discovery Channel.
As an author, Philippe has co-written many books including Going Blue and Make a Splash both of which have won multiple awards including Learning Magazine’s 2011 Teachers’ Choice Award for the Family, a Gold Nautilus Award and a 2010 ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year Gold Award.
Take some time to check out his two different websites, this guy really keeps busy!!
I have a busy day of tap, have a wonderful day out there…