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 October, 2015
Oct 27, 15 Comments Off on Damaged, Dying Brain Coral Colony, Hard Coral
Good morning friends, most of you divers including myself if I didn’t know any different would look at this photo and say, “it looks like coral bleaching” correct?? Well, it’s not. This is what happens to any type of coral if it falls into sand, the white part is dead and the brown is alive. How do corals fall into the sand you ask?? Many ways.. One is storms, they become loose from the surge of passing waves and just fall over and if they fall over into sand the parts touching the sand will die. If a coral falls over onto rock or reef, it has the ability to continue to grow and will reconnect itself to any hard substrate. Other ways corals fall over is by boat anchors, divers kicking them and by the dreaded damselfish who yank out finger corals all day long. On just about any given dive I find these poor corals and like the one above flip it back over or pick them up and relocate them away from the sand just be careful not to touch any of the live coral in the process.
I’m on my way to the airport to pick up our friend Lori, she arrives at 2:00 and Aimee arrives tonight at 8:00.
We had one of the longest rains of the year this morning, it was incredible and now I don’t have to go water my baby yuccas!
I’m off for the next three days, have a great week!!
Oct 26, 15 Comments Off on Giant Green Moray eel with Mouth Wide Open
Good morning from overcast Curacao! We have had a few days of much cooler weather but almost no rain, it’s just teasing us like it always does! I spent the weekend cleaning the house, planting baby yuccas, dog walks and one bike ride yesterday morning. Aimee and our friend Lori arrive tomorrow night so lots to do!! Our dog Indi is doing better, her two large crop circles are pretty dried up but now needs the hair to grow back were they shaved her, not quite show dog material at the moment.
I have another giant green moray eel for you all today that I found a few weeks back in Klein Curacao. Some of the eels I run into can be very shy and will immediately back into a cave and hide while others like this one just want to eat you! This guy here swam straight up to the camera without any fear (maybe he saw his reflection) and pretty much convinced me to leave and because I have the utmost respect for these green monsters I did just that! It’s pretty typical to find these guys out hunting during the day while most of the other eel species we have here only come out at night, must be his enormous size that makes him unafraid!
We have another “no dives” quiet week on tap, tis the season… I will again be taking off wednesday, thursday and friday to spend with our friend Lori from Rapid City, she’s the one who owns Dark Canyon Coffee and home of the World famous Highlander Groog.
Have a great day..
Oct 23, 15 Comments Off on Male Rosy Razorfish, Xyrichtys martinicensis
Good morning friends, sorry about the lack of postings this week but I took three days off and stayed away from the computer. One of my main projects was to finally get some work done on our new driftwood Christmas tree. Many of you remember the one I posted last year (click on the link below) well, our new one will be bigger and better.
Beside the driftwood project I have been busy planting hundreds of new baby yucca plants out in the desert, cleaning the house for Aimee’s return next tuesday and keeping an eye on our dog Indi who has a crazy rash that looks like crop circles.
Your fish above is a handsome male Rosy Razorfish that I found along with hundreds if not thousands of others under our ship at Playa Forti a few weeks back. These fish are just too cool for words, not only are super colorful they have the ability to dive under the sand if bothered. You would not believe how hard I tried to get this one to dive under the sand, I really wanted a photo of one coming up out the sand but nothing I did scared him, they all must be very used to divers. Normally others I have seen in other locations dive under the sand before you even get close and this happens in the blink of an eye! Most times they will re-emerge in the same exact spot but can also tunnel underneath the sand for some distance.
I have to get ready for a dive with sub, have a great day all!!
Oct 20, 15 Comments Off on Larval Blue Tang, Acanthurus coeruleus
Hey gang, I’m having a quiet three days off and pretty much just hanging out at the house keeping an eye on Indi and her weird skin rash. The heat here right now is unreal to say the least, these are by far the hottest days we have had this year making it almost impossible to get anything done outside. I’ve been taking the dogs out on the trails at 6:30 in the morning and returning no later than 8:00, it’s been that hot. Our big yucca plant in our front yard just died and left us with around 500 babies which I am now taking out to the desert and planting them one at a time, talk about a never ending job..
I found the above photo at Playa Jeremi on my night dive with our friend Christina. This is a post larval blue tang or surgeonfish inside a plastic cup that I found under the ship in around 20 feet of water. As you can see most of this little fish is still see-thru and only it’s cheek and eyes are developed, it’s most likely just a few weeks old. Also inside the cup was a baby sea hare, if you look close you can kind of see him towards the back of the cup.
Have a great day..
Oct 19, 15 Comments Off on Hermit Crabs from Playa Jeremi, Underwater Hermit
Good morning friends, I had a fairly quiet weekend at home keeping my eye on our dog Indi who has a terrible skin rash of some kind. I did take her to the vet and I am giving her pills and creams but after 3 days I still do not see much difference. The main thing I am doing at home is just keeping her quiet and in the air all day, the heat really seems to make it worse. I did get in a 3 hour bike ride yesterday morning with my next door neighbor, we took off over to the north coast and by the time we got back it was getting crazy hot, I spent the rest of the day out of the sun..
Here’s my two hermit crabs I found on my night-dive at Playa Jeremi, the top one is more of an adult and the bottom was much younger as you can see from the coloration. One would never even know there was a beautiful hermit crab inside these algae and sand covered shells if they hadn’t moved, talk about a perfect disguise! I only have the old issue of Reef Creatures and this crab is not in there, (it’s not a Stareye Hermit as I zoomed in on the eyes) I have seen him in the newer issue and will go find a copy to update this later for you. For a size reference, the crab at the top was in a shell about the size of a golfball and the other about half that size, this is why I love my 105 macro lens so much!!
Well, tons to do, need to go check on Indi…
Have a great day.
Oct 16, 15 Comments Off on Goldentail Moray Eel, Gymnothorax Moray
Good morning all, I’m discovered our dog Indi has a serious skin infection this morning and rushed her to the vet. You know it’s bad when your vet says it’s something they have never seen and want to do some skin tests which will take a week to get results. They did give me meds, shampoo, and skin cleaner so I will try hard this week to just keep her inside and nice and cool, the heat for sure is not helping.
I have a super pretty Goldentail Eel for you all today sticking his head out of his hole in the reef watching the fish go by. This is a very light colored version, normally they are much darker with a greenish color but this guy was bright yellow. I found this little eel during the day at Playa Forti and was pretty surprised at how unafraid he was and how much he was just posing for the camera.
Sorry so short, I need to check on Indi, have a great weekend all!
Oct 15, 15 Comments Off on Banded Tube-Dwelling Anemone, Cnidarians
Good morning from the Caribbean. I have a wild looking “Photoshopped” Banded Tube-Dwelling Anemone for you all today that I shot on a macro night dive at Playa Jeremi a few weeks ago with the Smithsonian aboard the Chapman. I was joined on this fun night dive by our buddy Christina and although it was an area with pure sand we managed to keep ourselves busy for a full hour. Our first find was not one but two super colorful hermit crabs in shells that looked like a moss covered rock, I will send those photos as well. We then came across a beautiful octopus hunting in the sand which I did get a nice video of being that I was smart enough to have Christina carry the new Ikelite/Gopro setup for just such an encounter. These banded tube-dwelling anemones were everywhere and as Christina will tell you I swam over to each and everyone to TRY and get a photo and let me tell you, this is a hard creature to photograph! Why you ask, well I will tell you. These anemones are SUPER sensitive to light, during the day they are buried deep below the sand and you would never find one let alone even know they are there. But when darkness falls they slowly pop-up out of the sand and open their long beautiful arms and begin to feed and will stay open all night if not bothered. In order to get a shot, I have to shine light on them to focus but within seconds of feeling/seeing my light they will start to close. So what I’m doing now is “one shot, one kill”, meaning, strobes are hopefully set to the correct amount of light, exposure and depth of field are set and I have just one strobe focus light on with a diffuser. Then as quick as I can I swim and hover directly over my selected target, focus as fast as I can and shoot, you will only get one chance before they react to the light and start closing. This does not hurt the animal and within minutes of me leaving and the return of darkness they will reopen for business. I must have swam around and shot at least two dozen of these with only a few successful results, but hey, you only need one good shot right?? I ended up getting us lost on this night dive more than once mainly because it’s all sand and you have zero reference points underwater, it’s not like you can follow your footprints back. During the filming of the octopus we went around and around in circles following this colorful hunter all over the sand and when I finished filming I then realized I had no idea where I was at, my bad! At one point I told Christina to wait and I surfaced to find out where we were and to my disbelief we were just a short distance from the ship?? I also have a fun shot of a just born fish in a cup that I will send from this dive, I really love night diving!!
Hope all is well out there, it’s so HOT here in Curacao right now, not my favorite month!!
Have a great day…
Oct 14, 15 Comments Off on Gorgonian Photo, Soft Corals, Octocorals,
Good morning friends, I have a wild looking gorgonian for you all today that reminded me immediately of Medusa and her wild hair made of snakes! I have never seen a gorgonian that had arms like this, maybe it was because the water was so calm and it felt it could let it’s hair down so to speak. These beautiful flowing underwater soft corals are really incredible and are home to so many different fish and creatures, you could honestly spend a whole dive just searching for all the little animals that are there but are super hidden.
I forgot to tell you all yesterday that JOY the black dog we have been fostering (for the second time) finally got a new home. As many of you remember, we found her as a baby (with no hair covered in fleas and ticks) and once healthy found a home for her. Well four years later the owner decides she doesn’t want her anymore and threatened to have her put to sleep so we immediately took her back, what is wrong with people? I will be meeting with the new owner and JOY on saturday for a fun morning hike and to take a few new photos.
The sub is still gone, they will return sometime late this evening so it’s anyone’s guess what they found.
Aimee arrived safe and sound in America, she is in dog paradise today!
Have a great day..
Oct 13, 15 Comments Off on Juvenile Queen Triggerfish, Colorful Reef Fish
Good morning friends, I’m at work alone today, our crew, the sub and ship all left for another 2 day trip to Klein Curacao to further explore the unknown depths of that little island. I had to stay behind because Aimee left today for the States to a attend a dog training conference in Texas and we had no one to watch our two little fur babies.
Two weeks ago we did a four day trip with the Chapman research vessel and our little submersible to the west end of the island and dropped anchor at a beautiful place called Playa Forti. This was a trip sponsored and paid for by the Smithsonian institution at a cost of about… (are you sitting down?) $17,000 a day!! Yep you read that right, renting a ship, crew and a submarine is not cheap but is %100 necessary for those that are in search of new and unusual creatures and fish never seen by any human before. So did the trip pay off you ask and did they find anything new?? The answer is YES! I have a bunch of new fish and creature photos for you but I have to get permission and get some kind of ID for you before I can post them so be patient. When I wasn’t inside photographing the new deep-sea specimens I was underwater with my camera taking photos which brings us to your picture of the day. This is a BEAUTIFUL, 3-inch juvenile Queen Triggerfish or Balistes vetula that I found hanging out in about 20 feet of water very close to where the ship was anchored. This is truly one of the most sexy fish we have around here and to think they can grow to be close to two feet long! This little Queen was super curious and relatively unafraid making my job a whole lot easier. In all the years I have been here I have never seen an adult Queen Triggerfish and this is only the second baby I have ever seen, both from the west end of our island.
Triggerfish have an oval shaped, highly compressed body. The head is large, terminating in a small but strong- jawed mouth with teeth adapted for crushing shells. The eyes are small, set far back from the mouth, at the top of the head. The anterior dorsal fin is reduced to a set of three spines. The first spine is stout and by far the longest. All three are normally retracted into a groove. The anal and posterior dorsal fins are capable of undulating from side to side to provide slow speed movement. The sickle shaped caudal fin is used only to escape predators.
Masked triggerfish (Sufflamen fraenatum) with its first dorsal spine partially raised. The two pelvic fins are overlaid by skin for most of their length and fused to form a single spine, terminated by very short rays, their only external evidence. Gill plates operculum too, although present are not visible, overlaid by the tough skin, covered with rough, rhomboid scales, that forms a stout armor on their body. The only gill opening is a vertical slit, directly above the pectoral fins. This peculiar covering of the gill plates is shared with other members of the Tetradontae order. Each jaw contains a row of four teeth on either side, while the upper jaw contains an additional set of six plate-like pharingeal teeth.
As a protection against predators, triggerfish can erect the first two dorsal spines: The first, (anterior) spine is locked in place by erection of the short second spine, and can be unlocked only by depressing the second, “trigger” spine, hence the family name “triggerfish”.
Lots to do, have a great day…
Oct 12, 15 Comments Off on Deep Sea Robin, Triglidae, Scorpaeniform Fish
Good morning friends, remember me??? So your first question must be…”why has it been so long since your last blog right”?? Well, in short, my blog got moved from one host to another and had to be backed up in the process and in my wildest dreams I never would have guessed this would take so long! What have I been doing, geez where do I start. We have had the scientists from the Smithsonian here for weeks collecting everything from algae to zoanthids and yours truly has been there with his little camera to shoot it all.
Above is yet another first for me. This is a spectacular deep water Sea Robin found hundreds of feet down in the sand and darkness of the remote reefs of Playa Jeremi. This beauty here was around 10 inches in length and as colorful as any fish I have ever seen!
Triglidae, commonly known as sea robins or gurnard, are a family of bottom-feeding scorpaeniform fish. They get their name (sea robin) from the orange ventral surface of the species in the Western Atlantic (Prionotus carolinus) and from large pectoral fins, which, when swimming, open and close like a bird’s wings in flight. The large surface area of the fin also permits the fish to glide short distances above the water surface, much like a flying fish.
They are bottom-dwelling fish, living at depths down to 200 m (660 ft) although they can be found in much shallower water. Most species are around 30 to 40 cm (12 to 16 in) in length. They have an unusually solid skull, and many species also possess armored plates on their bodies. Another distinctive feature is the presence of a “drumming muscle” that makes sounds by beating against the swim bladder. When caught, they make a croaking noise similar to a frog, which has given them the onomatopoeic name gurnard.
Sea robins have six spiny “legs”, three on each side. These legs are actually flexible spines that were once part of the pectoral fin. During development, the spines separate from the rest of the fin, developing into feeler-like “forelegs”. The pectoral fins have been thought to let the fish “walk” on the bottom, but are really used explore the bottom in search of food. The first three rays of the pectoral fins are membrane-free and used for chemoreception being highly sensitive to amino acids prevalent in marine invertebrates.
Have a great monday, I am swamped today!!