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 December, 2015
Dec 31, 15 Comments Off on Whitespotted Filefish, Cantherhines macrocerus
Good morning all, it’s the last day of 2015, that really doesn’t even compute…. I’m sitting here in my wetsuit getting ready to head out underwater with our submersible for one last customer run of the year, then after I can spend the rest of the day with Aimee, the dogs and our two visiting guests. Tonight will be insane with fireworks to say the least, we will have to have the t.v. volume up as high as it will go, turn on the fans and air-co’s and sit with the dogs till way after midnight, I’m guessing till 2 or 3 in the morning. Two of our dogs are super scared of fireworks while our dog Indi would prefer to just be outside watching, what a major character…
I have a full size adult Whitespotted Filefish for you all today that I shot yesterday while out photographing the sub at 50 feet in front of the Substation entrance. These fish are super calm and very curious, one of the few easy fish for new underwater photographer to shoot.
The American whitespotted filefish typically has a brown or olive colored body, although it may also be grey. These fish can rapidly change appearance to a high contrast color pattern with a much darker background and many light colored spots. With a maximum length of around 18 inches, they are smaller than the scrawled filefish which is also found in their range. The American whitespotted filefish is often seen in pairs. These fish are omnivorous; although they eat animals like sponges, stinging coral and gorgonians, and algae.
Happy New Year one and all, another year of blogging has ended, thanks for all the support!!!!!!!
Dec 30, 15 Comments Off on Giant French Angelfish, Pomacanthus paru
Good morning friends, I’m trying to recover this morning from a long day of diving yesterday, we had three sub runs mixed with cold water and current making for a long day. While I photographed the sub our friends Karen and Alan did their own diving following me once out onto our house reef and another down the coast at Pier Baai above the Carpile dive site.
I have a giant 18-inch French Angelfish for you all this morning that we found on our fun drift-dive from Sea Aquarium to Substation a few days ago. We found two of these beauties together but I was unable to get them both in one photo it’s always been such a hard thing to do. Once I started shooting them they started swimming straight down to much deeper water and I finally had to call it quits, they really are not shy or scared just busy.
Not much else to report, weird weather continues here, we should be having big rains but so far they are no where on the horizon?? I think our friends are doing one last dive this morning as they fly out late tomorrow afternoon, wish I could be doing more with them but this is our busy season here.
Have a great day all…..
Dec 29, 15 Comments Off on Giant Barrel Sponges, Xestospongia muta
Good morning from rainy overcast Curacao!
Check out these monster sized Giant Barrel Sponges, Xestospongia muta that we found at 70 feet on our drift dive from the Sea Aquarium house reef to the Substation house reef. The barrel sponge at the top is the largest at around six feet tall with a good two and half foot wide opening, these are truly exceptional specimens! As we passed we watched a single Foureye Butterflyfish swim in and out of the bottom sponge pecking at small amounts of algae from around the inside of the sponge without a care in the world.
The giant barrel sponge (Xestospongia muta) is the largest species of sponge found growing on Caribbean coral reefs. It is common at depths greater than 10 metres (33 ft) down to 120 metres (390 ft) and can reach a diameter of 1.8 metres (6 feet). It is typically brownish-red to brownish-gray in color, with a hard or stony texture. The giant barrel sponge has been called the “redwood of the reef ” because of its size and estimated lifespan of hundreds to a thousand or more years. It is perhaps the best-studied species of sponge in the sea; a population on Conch Reef, in the Florida Keys, has been monitored and studied since 1997.
The giant barrel sponge is variable in form. Typically it is barrel-shaped, with a cone-shaped cavity at the apex known as the osculum. However, some individuals within the same population may be low and squat or relatively tall and thin. Similarly, the surface can range from smooth to rough, rugged, and irregular, sometimes with buttresses. In shallow water the color is brownish-red to brownish-gray, but at greater depths and in caves and under-hangs, or when the sponge is undergoing cyclic bleaching events, the sponge is pinkish or white.
The giant barrel sponge is a filter feeder. Water is continually pumped into the sides of the sponge, through the sponge body. and out the osculum at the top of the sponge. Small pores in the sponge body are connected to channels lined by collar cells, each with a flagellum, and the beating of these flagellae draws water through the channels. Incoming particles, particularly microscopic bacteria and prochlorophytes, are phagocytosed by the collar cells. Sponges like X. muta also absorb dissolved organic compounds directly from the seawater as part of their diet.
The giant barrel sponge is probably dioecious, and spawns its eggs or sperm directly into the water column. Clouds of sperm from males are emitted from the osculum, while females produce flocculent masses of eggs that are slightly negatively buoyant. Spawning can occur at any time of the year, and occurs patchily on the reef, but usually with many individuals participating at the same time. Fertilization occurs in the water column. Resulting sponge larvae disperse with ocean currents, but there is some genetic differentiation among populations from Florida, the Bahamas and Belize.
Growth models for X. muta have been formulated from digital photographs of the same sponges over a period of 4.5 years. Sponge growth rates ranged from over 400% per year to only 2% per year. The largest sponges on Conch Reef, about the size of a oil barrel, were estimated to be about 130 years old. The largest individual for which a photograph was available (now dead) was estimated to be 2300 years old. By using the growth model, the age of an individual X. muta can be estimated from the osculum diameter and the base circumference.
Did another night dive last night with Karen and Alan and I have two sub dives today with our submersible, I am definitely feeling tired today!!
See you soon…….
Dec 28, 15 Comments Off on Divers Above Giant Sea Fan, Coral Reef Photo
Good morning one and all, how was your Christmas??? Ours was fantastic! Aimee had to work Christmas day but I took our guests on a morning and night dive plus we did all kinds of other fun activities in between. Since last thursday afternoon I have pretty much been diving with our two guests Karen and Alan non stop and it has been a blast!! I shot the above photo of our two new divers holding hands drifting over a giant sea-fan in front of the Sea Aquarium at Shipwreck Point at around 35 feet. Today they took a break from diving and took off to the west end of the island to climb to the top of Mount Christoffel, hike Boka Tabla and visit as many beaches as possible before dark, I am sure they will be wiped out tonight but with smiles plastered to their faces! We had some great night dives this weekend and saw three beautiful octopus on one dive alone and filmed them all using my new GoPro-4 attached to my sexy looking Ikelite tray and Vega strobes. Because I’m now shooting in 2.7K I need to figure out how to get them down to a resolution for Youtube, so hopefully I will have them for you soon. Yesterday I left the house at 6:30 in the morning and met up with a bunch of friends for a super fun but super muddy three hour mountain bike ride and then after spent the rest of the day with our guests.
We have been finally getting a little rain but not near enough, I am in high hopes that is is still on the way!! Fireworks officially went on sale yesterday here which for us dog owners is the worst time of the year, Inca and Joy are scared to death of them!!
Have a wonderful week….
Dec 24, 15 Comments Off on Funny Animal Holiday Photos, Merry Christmas!
Good morning friends, we had a busy day here yesterday with the sub keeping me away from the computer and in the water. Our friends Karen and Allen arrived late tuesday night and by the time we got them to their hotel it was close to 1:00 in the morning, not a good time to be out driving with all the celebrations going on right now. Yesterday our friends dove while I worked and this morning when they arrive I will take them on a long drift-dive from Sea Aquarium down to the Substation, they should enjoy that a lot!!
So what would the holidays be like without dressing up your pets?? This is our dog Indi who is such a ham and honestly could care less what we do to her as long as it’s followed by a treat, she totally cracks us up!! I must say though, without a helper/dog trainer photos like this would be close to impossible, Aimee worked with her beforehand to get her used to the hat and wearing those noisy bells, now she’s all good with it!!
Have a wonderful day tomorrow, we will be under the sea diving most the day, I hope you all are doing something fun as well!!
From our little Caribbean Casa to yours, Merry Christmas ALL!!
Barry, Aimee, Inca, Indi and yes we still have Joy!!
Dec 21, 15 Comments Off on Whiptail Lizard, Caribbean Reptiles, Lizards
Good afternoon, I won’t have any time tomorrow to blog since we have three submersible runs scheduled so I’m throwing this out right now!!
For the past few years we have had a giant Whiptail lizard living under a big piece of wood about a foot from our front door and as you can see he’s fat as can be! I hand feed him pieces of banana almost every day and what he doesn’t eat I toss out to his harem of ladies. We have named him “Big-Blue” and he spends most days lounging in the sun on top of his house which is how I got this photo. One of our Christmas runners blew off the porch and landed on top of his house this morning so he apparently thinks this is now his or that we got him this for Christmas to make his lounging time more comfortable. Months ago his tail either was bit off or he got ran over but I see that is is finally starting to grow back. I will be posting a video as well soon of him around his house with his banana so stay tuned, he’s super cool!
Apart from being the most common reptile on Curacao, each of the three islands has it’s own subspecies of this lizard. The lizard in Aruba even belongs to yet another species. In Papiamento the adult male is called Bloblo, while the females and young males are known as Lagadishi. Whiptail Lizards are omnivorous. They will eat fruits and insects but they will also rob eggs out of birds nests and even attack mice and eat them. Adult males possess a territory in which they will allow females and immature males to live but not adult males. A territorial male will try to impress an opponent by raising itself high on it’s legs and making itself as big as possible. If the intruder does not leave, a fight will ensue with most often the territorial male being the winner.
Dec 21, 15 Comments Off on Scrawled Filefish, Odd Shaped Caribbean Fish
Good morning all, just five little days till Christmas, can you believe it?? Where-o-where did this year go??? So last friday I ended up being out in the water all day photographing the sub and was unable to get the blog out and this week tuesday we have friends flying in for 10 days so not sure how much you will hear from me, my apologies in advance. Our guests that are coming are new, just certified divers and will want to do a lot of diving and they have their own car, so we should be able to get to some fun sites. The weekend went by fast, I’m still suffering with a pulled muscle in my lower back which kept me from doing much including no cycling! I pretty much spent my weekend cleaning the house and getting it ready for our guests, they will spend four days at a hotel and the rest of the time with us, the downside is they don’t arrive till 10:00 at night meaning we won’t be in bed till after midnight tomorrow, I’ll just call that my New Years night out!!
I have a little Scrawled Filefish for you all today who I have sent you many times before. He or she is a pet of sorts and has gotten quite used to me always being out on the reef and seems fascinated by my big o’l camera or all the bubbles I’m making with every breath. This cool looking fish will slowly swim around me and most times come within a foot always glaring at me with that big crazy eye of his. When alarmed this fish has a retractible spine on top of his head that can raised and lowered and as you can see from this shot he doesn’t seem to worried.
So much to do, so little time….
Have a great day.
Dec 17, 15 Comments Off on Curacao Christmas Cactus, Curacao Festivities
Good morning friends, the other night Aimee came home from the movies and said “you have to see the new Christmas display at the round-a-bout in Outrabanda” which is across from downtown Punda. She was very excitted and told me it’s the coolest cactus she has seen and that I had to get down there to photograph it. So last weekend I grabbed the tripod and camera and took off to find this new display. I got there way to early, it was still light out and ended up having to wait at least an hour but then finally, on they came!!! Most of the trunk of this cactus is blocked by shrubbery so I had to cross the round-a-bout and shoot it from inside the display looking out towards traffic, it’s a shame that most people will never see the whole cactus. I still have a few more planned Christmas photos so weather permitting I will get those done.
I have to be underwater in a few minutes for a sub dive so I gotta go!!
More Holiday Wishes to everyone!!
Dec 16, 15 Comments Off on Curacao Art, Curacao Wildlife, Curacao Birds
Good morning all, I have a beautiful bird painting for you all today that was just done a few weeks ago over in the Zeelandia area across the road from Vista bicycle shop. The paintings are on an eight foot wall and signed but I don’t recognize the artist or artists, it looks like each may have been done by a different person? The yellow bird is called a Troupial and the other is a hawk of some kind, maybe an American Kestrel as there are so many on the island.
These Troupial’s are actually very hard birds to get close to as they seem to be afraid of their own shadows. The Troupial (Turpial in Spanish), Icterus icterus is the national bird of Venezuela and one of about 25 or so species of “New World Orioles”. It is found across South America east of the Andes, from Columbia, Venezuela and the Guiana’s down to Argentina. This bird can also found on Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao. These birds are fairly large in size, with a long tail and a bulky bill. It has a black head and upper breast. The feathers on the front of the neck and upper breast stick outward, making an uneven boundary between the black and the orange of the bird’s lower breast and underside. The rest of the orange color is found on the upper and lower back, separated by the black shoulders. The wings are mostly black except for a white streak that runs the length of the wing when in a closed position. The eyes are yellow, and surrounding each one, there is a patch of bright, blue, naked skin.
The American Kestrel is a popular bird in Curacao and we see them almost everywhere we go usually in pairs. The local Curacao residents call them Kini-Kini and in Dutch they are called Amerikaanse Torenvalk. The males have grey wings while the larger female has a more striped appearance. They eat lizards and small birds and occasionally insects but really nothing is safe with these guys around. Some of you will remember the photo I sent out years ago of a Kestrel eating a small Bananaquit thus their other famous name “the Sparrow Hawk”. This bird is found in great numbers here and in Aruba but strangely enough not in Bonaire???
I wrenched my lower back this morning picking something up wrong, man is ever hurting right now…
Have a great day.
Dec 15, 15 Comments Off on Post-Larval Juvenile Smooth Trunkfish, Boxfishes
Good morning from the windiest place on Earth! Like the rest of the planet our weather is messed up and not normal! We should be having rain every day but instead it’s been crazy windy with very little sun and honestly if the rains don’t come soon we will be headed into another year of drought!
I left the house at 6:30 this morning (in the dark) and met my neighbor for an early morning mountain bike ride. We did two fast loops around the salt pond which is around 17 miles and I made it in to work on time, need to start doing that more often, it’s way cooler!
I have a super cute, pea sized, Post-Larval Juvenile Smooth Trunkfish for you all today that I found a few weeks ago while out playing with my 105 macro lens. This is without a doubt the sweetest, most gentle little fish on the reef but they can be very hard to find because of their tiny pea size. This little thing was hanging out inside a colony of fire-coral which made the job of picture taking even more difficult because hey, it’s fire-coral!! It always blows my mind that this floating little ball will grow up to be close to a foot in length! Baby trunkfish will usually stay in one small area for many months, I know this because quite often I go back to see these guys over and over and they are always in the same spot, they don’t move around a lot when they are this age. Once older they will become “reef travelers” and swim up and down the reef all day with no apparent home location, kind of like coral reef drifters, they go where the food is..
Lots to do, have a wonderful day…
Dec 14, 15 Comments Off on New Driftwood Christmas Tree, Wooden Tree
Good morning friends, I am back… I can’t even begin to tell you how much I got done in the last 10 days, it was great! I finally finished our new, bigger and better driftwood Christmas tree which ended up taking days to assemble, although next year it should go up a bit easier. All this wood was collected over a period of about four years, not as easy to find as one would think as the pieces need to be smooth and clean and these pieces are in high demand! The wood is also not tied in any way, it is all balanced making it the Worlds largest JENGA puzzle, if one piece were to get pulled out it would all come down! Most of the ornaments have been either sent to us or given to us by visiting friends over the past 11 years and of course most are sea related.
So other than getting the tree up over the past week and a half, we got our house cleaned up and ready for our two new guests (Karen Ross and her husband) that will be arriving on the 22nd from Arizona. They are both getting certified to dive so when they arrive I will be doing a lot of diving, I can hardly wait. I also used this off time to finally get myself into better shape and rode the mountain bike every other day getting in a good 100 miles a week and finally getting to ride with my buddy Dorian. We have our annual Sea Aquarium Christmas party tomorrow and lots of other events planned, this will be a busy month.
Hope everyone is doing well out there, I still have some more fun Christmas photos that I still need to shoot and post so stay tuned…
See you tomorrow.
Dec 4, 15 Comments Off on Juvenile Puddingwife, Halichoeres radiatus
Good morning friends, I have a colorful juvenile Puddingwife wrasse for your viewing pleasure today. As many of my fellow divers/underwater photographers know this fish never stops swimming and is very hard to get a photo of. I chased this one for 20 minutes trying to get off a lucky shot and came close to just calling it quits but wasn’t about to get beat by a little fish! Like many wrasses, the Puddingwife goes through a dramatic color/pattern change as it matures, though both the juvenile and adult animals in an attractive fish.
The puddingwife wrasse, Halichoeres radiatus, is a species of wrasse native to the Western Atlantic Ocean from North Carolina to Bermuda, through the West Indies and Gulf of Mexico, to offshore islands of Brazil, being absent from Brazilian coastal waters. It can be found on reefs at depths from 2 to 55 m (6.6 to 180.4 ft), with younger fish up to subadults being found in much shallower waters from 1 to 5 m (3.3 to 16.4 ft). This species can reach 51 cm (20 in) in total length, though most do not exceed 40 cm (16 in).
Favorite foods of this colorful fish are; Bivalves, snails, sea urchins, crabs, serpent stars, bristle worms, mantis shrimp and chitons.
The Puddingwife wrasse is found on lagoons and reef flats, generally over sand or rock and rubble substrates. This wrasse is often observed feeding in association with the Bar Jack (Caranx ruber). The two move and feed together on the reef. The Puddingwife grows to a large size and is capable of moving rocks as it searches for food. It may also be aggressive toward related wrasses.
Have a wonderful weekend..
Dec 3, 15 Comments Off on Grooved Brain Coral, Diploria labyrinthiformis
Hi guys, I took the day off yesterday to work on getting our new driftwood Christmas tree set up which is a major all day job. Next week I will be on vacation for a week, I’m staying here and working on a long list of photos that are piling up, like new Ikelite promo shots, sea-glass images, flowers, GoPro stuff, and Christmas photos, lots to do, lets hope we have some nice weather for a change.
I have a hard to find colony of Grooved Brain coral, Diploria labyrinthiformis for you all today that I found on the sandy slopes of Klein Curacao.
Diploria labyrinthiformis, known by the common name grooved brain coral, is a species of stony coral in the family Mussidae. Found in tropical areas of the west Atlantic Ocean, it has a familiar, maze-like appearance.
This species of reef-building coral has a hemispherical, brain-like shape with a brown, yellow, or gray color. It has characteristic deep, interconnected double-valleys. These polyp-bearing valleys are each separated by grooved ambulacral ridges. There may be a difference in color between the valleys and the grooves.
Diploria labyrinthiformis can grow upward at a rate of approximately 3.5 millimeters per year, achieving about 2 metres (6.6 feet) in diameter. During its planktonic larval stage, the coral has locomotion. After that time, it becomes permanently sessile.
This species is a suspension feeder, and survives mainly on zooplankton and bacteria. These are captured by the polyps, by extruding mesenterial filaments and tentaces. The polyps have nematocysts which are triggered to hold their prey immobile. The prey is then transported to the mouth with the assistance of mucus and cilia.
Diploria labyrinthiformis is hermaphroditic, and reproduces through brooding. This entails the egg being fertilized by the sperm within the polyp, followed by the release of the larvae.
Have a wonderful day..
Dec 1, 15 Comments Off on Spotted Cleaner Shrimp, Periclimenes yucatanicus
Good morning friends, yours truly is slowly recovering from a 4-hour root canal that I had done yesterday, talk about fun!!
I have a Photoshopped “hide and seek” type of photo for you all today of a beautiful little one inch long Spotted Cleaner Shrimp, Periclimenes yucatanicus hiding in a big Giant Anemone. These little shrimps are a favorite subject for underwater photographers as they are easy to find, easy to shoot and are dressed in wild colors, what more could you want in a subject? I personally love the design on their back that resembles a Hawaiian mask, can you see it??
I have to get ready for a sub dive, my colleague Tico will be diving for me today doing the photos while I wait at the surface, will be a few days before I can get back into the wet stuff.
Sorry so short, have a great day,