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 February, 2016
Feb 29, 16 Comments Off on Mark from the WORLD Famous Dive Bus Hut
Good evening friends, I did a super fun dive today with our buddy Mark from the one and only Dive Bus Hut, the hands down BEST dive shop in Curacao!!!! Our goal was to try and find some kind of fun reef scene that could be used in a photo showing Mark in action and this is what we ended up with. Our dive started out rough with not seeing anything that was photo worthy and then as we approached the half way point I spotted this monster lionfish hovering above the reef without a care in the world at around 80 feet! I quickly signaled Mark to swim around to his left side and I was on the other, we later called it a lionfish sandwich! As you can see here this fish never really moved, he or she just hovered there the whole time without a care in the world and let us take photo after photo until finally I had to leave as I was running low on air. The lionfish populations have lessened in the shallows and increased on the deeper reefs due to so many recreational divers hunting them on a regular basis. Quite often we see many lionfish in the submersible down to depths of around 500 feet, how insane is that??
Hope your doing well out there……
Feb 29, 16 Comments Off on Snorkeling with Dolphins and New Ikelite Toys
Good morning friends, how was your weekend out there??? Still no rain here and the stupid wind is still blowing like an approaching hurricane, I say, “give us a break already”!! I did a fun dolphin dive with Aimee yesterday she was free-diving while yours truly cheated and had a tank, there’s no way I can my breath as long as she can! Our goal was to try and get some photos of Aimee using the new state of the art, shallow use, underwater housing from our friends at IKELITE. Many times taking anything new in the water with the dolphins means good luck finding the dolphins as they are not big fans of new technology. So as you see here Aimee is training one of them to stop in front of the camera and pose for a photo but not without a little attitude as you can see from all those bubbles coming out of her blowhole, she looks like an erupting volcano.
I’m taking Mark from the World famous Dive Bus Hut on a dive at 9;00 so I need to kick it in gear, have a great week….
Feb 25, 16 Comments Off on Free diving with Emma and a New IKELITE Housing
Good morning friends, I have a photo of our friend Emma this morning free diving out in the big blue holding a new housing from our friends at Ikelite. As most of you know Ikelite sends me all this cool, state of the art underwater gear that I get to keep in return for taking photos of it in action, sounds like fun right?? Emma has been quite the trooper these past few years helping me out with photos we need either in the water or on land and she’s always a pleasure to work with. This week we have been battling high winds, clouds and rough seas so yesterday we said “what the heck” and just went out and got something done, she was quite the trooper. This new housing is made for fun in the shallows with a depth rating of just 40 feet perfect for snorkeling, free diving, playing in the waves, taking photos in the pool or shooting macro in tide pools and best of all…it floats!!! Get yours at www.ikelite.com
Have to get the dogs out for a walk and take water to the thirsty birds.
Feb 25, 16 Comments Off on Honeycomb Cowfish, Odd Shaped Reef Fish
Good morning from Curacao…. We continue to have high winds and zero rain which is quickly creating a not so beautiful Caribbean landscape. Aimee and I are still taking out water and food to the desert everyday to our secluded little oasis which as can imagine is a big hit for the local wildlife. I have been trying hard to get some diving done this week but because of the high winds creating big swells the visibility is awful.
I have a Curacao favorite for you all today called a Honeycomb Cowfish, one of our all time favorites. This unusual reef fish has an armor of heavy hexagonal scales covering much of it’s body, and an elongated caudal peduncle (tail stem) with rounded fins. It has a small, puckered mouth and tiny horns over it’s eyes with a sloped face and pronounced forehead, resembling a cowfish. Despite being somewhat rare and shy, this is a popular fish for divers and public aquariums.
Off to the sea…
Feb 24, 16 Comments Off on Juvenile Rock Beauty, Colorful Baby Reef Fish
Good morning friends, I have a super cute, two inch long juvenile Rock Beauty for you all today that I found under the pier at Caracas Baai and YES fish can be cute!! Over the years this little fish has been very illusive and we have only seen these babies a handful of times. Like most tiny newborn fish these Rock Beauties find a safe home and will stay there in the same place until they are older only coming out to socialize and feed. Photographing these fish can be very difficult as they usually won’t come out until it’s safe so I usually have to wait in the same place for an extended amount of time, sometimes for the whole dive.
When this fish becomes older it will be mostly yellow, turning blue toward the tail. The tail itself is yellow. The pectoral fins and ventral fins are yellow, and the lips and the edges of their dorsal fins and anal fins are dark blue. The adult measures up to 10 inches (25 cm).
The rock beauty feeds primarily on sponges. It may also eat tunicates, jellyfish, and corals, as well as plankton and algae.
Have a great day…
Feb 22, 16 Comments Off on Giant Green Moray Eel on the Superior Producer
Hey gang, here’s a monster sized Green Moray Eel that our friend Emma found yesterday on the Superior Producer. For those of you new to the blog the “Superior Producer” is a giant cargo ship that sunk in the 70’s near the famous Mega Pier in around 120 feet of water and is now one of the top dive spots on the island. Green moray eels, Gymnothorax funebris (Ranzani, 1839), aka black moray, green cong, green conger, green congo, green eel, and olive-green moray eel, are one of the most common and one of the largest of the moray eels. These eels average 4 feet in length, but can grow up to be 8 feet long and weigh up to 64 pounds. The dark green to brown color comes from a yellowish mucous that covers its blue skin to provide protection from parasites and infectious bacteria. Additionally, they are often camouflaged to hide in the reef from unsuspecting prey. Camouflage often extend into the mouth of the green moray which continually opens and closes slowly to move water over the gills for respiration. The large mouth features strong, pointed sharp teeth. The body is muscular with a long dorsal fin that extends down the length of the body starting from the head and ending in a short tail fin.
Hope you all have a great day….
Feb 22, 16 Comments Off on Rescuing Indi from a Deep Well, Dog Rescue
Good morning friends, what a crazy weekend!!! So we had quite the adventure Saturday afternoon with our dog Indi chasing an iguana through the wilds of Curacao and blindly leaping into a 10 foot well!! So first off… Indi chases iguana’s but never in a million years would ever be able to catch one, it’s just the thrill of the chase. That’s what happened here, she took off at top speed running through thick brush in hot pursut and when the iguana jumped into this well, she followed without even looking!!! I saw all this happen from far away and had no idea there was even a well here, thank God it wasn’t filled with water!! When I arrived and looked down I saw her and the iguana each at different ends and both had about the same look on their faces like “what just happened”? The well was around 10 feet deep with smooth walls, I knew there was no way I could get her out by myself so I quickly called Aimee for help. Aimee was with our good friend Zenzi and our two guests from the States and it was Zenzi who took off immediately to the Sea Aquarium to get a ladder. I tried to find long pieces of wood to put down in the hole but without a saw it never would have worked because the wood was so dry. During this whole time I also had our other two dogs to watch but every time I left Indi to find the others she started this crazy HOWL, it sounded like a dog trapped in well! So to make a long story short, the girls arrived in about 30 minutes with a ladder, Zenzi was the first down, grabbed Indi and carried her all the way up without even touching the ladder with her hands, we asked her if she used to work for the circus?? What about the iguana?? I went down the ladder and picked the iguana up and placed him or her on a wooden pole that I had placed in the hole and out it ran, this time Indi did not give chase. So a major big thanks to Zenzi, Hanna, and Emily for helping make a bad situation better, I will go back and try to put something over this well, would hate for this to happen again to some poor animal.
Had a great dive to the Superior Producer yesterday afternoon with our friend Mark from the World famous Dive Bus Hut and our visiting friends from Sweden.
Lots to do, have a great day…
Feb 19, 16 Comments Off on Goldentail Moray Eel, Gymnothorax miliaris, Morays
Hello all, what a crazy day!! As many of you already know Aimee and I are trying hard to leave Curacao but because of so much paper work it’s harder to do than you think. We have been here 12 years and we have for sure worn out our welcome, it’s time to move on to MUCH BIGGER AND BETTER THINGS… Where are we headed you ask??? No idea, it’s kind of up in the air! We will have a small container delivered to our house soon and that will get shipped to Miami, from there our Caribbean junk will get transported either by U-Haul (by us) or by semi to South Dakota, we have yet to figure that out. Why are we leaving you ask, well for more reasons then I could type in an hour but the main being Aimee’s back is becoming a problem after so many years of hard work and the island has changed for the worse in the time we have been here. So we will be boarding a plane with not one, not two but three dogs (can you feel my pain) and fly to Miami and drive from there, can you say “road trip”?? I will continue with this blog as I have thousands upon thousands of images for you all and with the help of Wikipedia we all will continue to learn a lot about life in the Caribbean. Stay tuned for more, you can bet my faithful readers will be fully informed along the way.
So today I have a beautiful (if you think eels are beautiful) Goldentail eel peaking out from his or her super cool brain coral fortress. This is how we find or see eels throughout the day, they just watch the world go by from the safety of their little caves breathing with their mouths open.
The goldentail moray is a medium-sized fish that can reach a maximum length of 70 cm, but the ones usually observed are rather average 40 cm in length. Its serpentine in shape body has a brown light or dark background color dotted with small yellow spots. These later are smaller on the head and larger at the tail. The snout and the tail are yellowish. The inside of their mouth is white. It typically lives on rocky and coral reef slopes between the surface and 35 meters (115.5 feet) in depth with a maximum reported at 60 meters (198 feet).
Have a crazy wonderful weekend….
Feb 18, 16 Comments Off on Golden Crinoid, Davidaster rubiginosa, Reef Scene
Hello friends, I have a fun Caribbean reef scene for you all today with a Golden Crinoid being the main subject. I rarely see these prehistoric looking creatures any more and if I do they are usually the all black ones, these orange ones are super hard to find.
Crinoids are marine animals that make up the class Crinoidea of the echinoderms (phylum Echinodermata). Crinoidea comes from the Greek word krinon, “a lily”, and eidos, “form”. They live both in shallow water and in depths as great as 6,000 metres (20,000 ft). Sea lilies refer to the crinoids which, in their adult form, are attached to the sea bottom by a stalk. Feather stars or comatulids refer to the unstalked forms.
Crinoids are characterised by a mouth on the top surface that is surrounded by feeding arms. They have a U-shaped gut, and their anus is located next to the mouth. Although the basic echinoderm pattern of fivefold symmetry can be recognised, most crinoids have many more than five arms. Crinoids usually have a stem used to attach themselves to a substrate, but many live attached only as juveniles and become free-swimming as adults.
There are only about 600 extant crinoid species, but they were much more abundant and diverse in the past. Some thick limestone beds dating to the mid- to late-Paleozoic are almost entirely made up of disarticulated crinoid fragments.
We had friends arrive a few days ago from Michigan and today Aimee took them to our small island of Klein Curacao for a full day of fun in the sun, I wish I could have joined them.
Hope you all are well…
Feb 17, 16 Comments Off on Bicolored Coney, Cephalopholis fulva, Sea Bass
Good morning friends, we had a little “fake rain” last night that barely wet the ground and did nothing for the plants. We are really seeing a pattern of less and less rain here each year and a major increase in the wind which is great if you are into flying kites and wind surfing! We have another very busy day underway with a large group of kids from Bonaire so yours truly is in and out of the water most of the day.
I have a super colorful little sea bass for you all today called a Bicolored Coney or Cephalopholis fulva for you masters of fish out there. The coney (Cephalopholis fulva) is a relatively small grouper species which occurs in three main colour forms: a red or dark brown form, commonly found in deep water; an orange-brown or bicoloured form, orangey-brown above and pale below, which usually occurs in shallow water; and a yellow (‘xanthic’) form, found in both deep and shallow water. In the first two forms, the head and body are covered in small, dark-edged blue spots, while in the yellow form the spots are fewer and are confined to the front part of the head and body. In all colour forms, there are two prominent black spots on the tip of the lower jaw, and also two prominent black spots near the tail. Like many groupers, the coney is able to change colour, and at night may take on a pale colouration, with irregular vertical bars and blotches. Individuals can also apparently change between the all-red or all-brown form and the bicoloured form, whereas yellow individuals do not appear to change. The coney may change to the bicoloured pattern in response to excitement, or the pattern may aid in concealing the fish at certain times of day.
Thanks to www.arkive.org for that wonderful hard to find info….
Lots to do.
Feb 15, 16 Comments Off on Caribbean Reef Squid, Sepioteuthis sepioidea
Good morning friends we are back!!! Washington was fantastic!! Ok, it was freezing cold and we never went sightseeing but we loved the area even if we only got to see it from a car window. We spent most of the time doing talks at the Smithsonian Institution and the Episcopal High School in Alexandria Virginia so not much time to play. For my high school talks I had a pre-made slide show of photos from above and below the surface showing the kids just how much diversity there can be on one little island. At the Smithsonian Aimee and I both were in the Sant Ocean Hall at our own booths with big screen monitors and a table which I had set up all my underwater stuff on and Aimee had a dolphin model. People would then stroll in and stop by and either watch the photos or engage in some kind of conversation, that was super fun. A SUPER BIG THANKS to Carole Baldwin, Jennifer Collins, Lee Weigt, Kathleen Caslow and John Brigham at Ikelite, you can’t believe how much these folks did for us!
We have three very busy days on tap here at Substation so I won’t have much time to blog but starting thursday I should be back on track.
Enjoy your beautiful Caribbean Reef Squid………
Feb 5, 16 Comments Off on Blue Tang, Acanthurus coeruleus, Blue Fish
Good morning all, what a week!! So much diving in freezing cold water, it really wears you out! Aimee and I have been packing like crazy to get ready for our Washington trip which is now only days away. We have a friend staying at our house and all the neighbors will be helping walk the dogs throughout the day, that alone is a big relief! I have been so busy this week that I wasn’t able to go biking at all but tomorrow morning I will be making up for lost time in the saddle and picking up a friend at 7:30.
I have a beautiful Blue Tang for you all today that I found swimming under a pier up against a beautiful sponge encrusted wall!
I have to be underwater AGAIN in 15 minutes, sorry but I have to run!!
Have a great weekend and I will try to post from Washington…
Feb 3, 16 Comments Off on Delicate Rose Lace Coral, Small Delicate Corals
Well folks, I’m wiped out after another day of non-stop diving in freezing Caribbean water, I just want to go to bed!!! I still have my intern for one more day, we both did a long photo dive at 4:00 today and I had to exit early due to freezing hands, I hate this time of year for diving..
I have a little, very delicate Rose Lace coral for you all today that I shot in the mouth of a little cave on our Substation house reef. This hydrocoral form small colonies, with up to 7 cm high by 11 cm wide. If you look closely the polyps have an appearance of hair when extended, but because the corals are so small they are hard to see. The surface of the outer branches are covered with rows of small glasses, formed by surrounding food and stinging polyps. Occasional cups are also visible in the thick base of the branches. The polyps have an appearance of hair as when extended. Burgundy purple or lavender near the base, fading to pink and white towards the tips of the branches. Occasionally, all white.
These corals inhabit protected areas, areas of coral shade, often in caves or crevices, 6-30 m depth. They are found in Florida, Bahamas and the Caribbean waters, additionally it is common in the Abrolhos Archipelago.
They’re usually found hanging from a ledge of a cave or crevice. They can sting if rubbed against, but they are not considered toxic, or even deadly. The Stylaster roseus is a filter feeder like most other corals, and have a symbiotic relationship with zooxanthellae to provide you with the essential nutrients it needs.
Rose Lace Corals consist of a dominant polyp stage that usually has separate sexes for reproduction. The male and female are usually divided into colonies, and each colony produces or a sperm or an egg, which is eventually fertilized and developed into a new colony.
Another crazy busy day ahead, wish me luck…
Feb 2, 16 Comments Off on Lionfish Face Photo, Colorful Invasive Reef Fish
Good morning all, I have a fun Lionfish portrait for you all today that I shot yesterday with my trusty 105 macro. We still see these beautiful invasive fish on every dive but on some reefs they are really doing a good job at keeping the numbers down. We ended up doing three dives yesterday, two of them were with my intern trying to teach him something about the difficulties of underwater photography, he’s finding out it’s not so easy….
Pretty much everything about the venomous lionfish—its red-and-white zebra stripes, long, showy pectoral fins, and generally cantankerous demeanor—says, “Don’t touch!”
The venom of the lionfish, delivered via an array of up to 18 needle-like dorsal fins, is purely defensive. It relies on camouflage and lightning-fast reflexes to capture prey, mainly fish and shrimp. A sting from a lionfish is extremely painful to humans and can cause nausea and breathing difficulties, but is rarely fatal.
Lionfish, also called turkey fish, dragon fish and scorpion fish, are native to the reefs and rocky crevices of the Indo-Pacific, although they’ve found their way to warm ocean habitats worldwide.
The largest of lionfish can grow to about 15 inches (0.4 meters) in length, but the average is closer to 1 foot (0.3 meters).
Lionfish are popular in some parts of the world as food, but are far more prized in the aquarium trade. Their population numbers are healthy and their distribution is growing, causing some concerned in the United States, where some feel the success of this non-indigenous species presents human and environmental dangers.
Lots to do….
Feb 2, 16 Comments Off on Unusual Orange Sponge, Myripristis jacobus
Good morning friends, we are up at o-dark thirty trying to get ready for yet another very busy day.. Aimee and I leave for Washington this Sunday and I will try to post while I am at the Smithsonian so just hang in there if you don’t hear from us for awhile. Today we have two sub dives, the first starting at 9:00. I’m going to have my young intern shoot a go-pro movie of me photographing the sub today and I will try and post that as soon as I can.
I have a KILLER, ultra unusual orange sponge for you all today that we found years ago growing in a small cave. To this date this is the only one of these we have ever seen and we visit it on almost every dive. You can kind of get an idea of the size of the sponge by the little seven inch Cardinalfish above who we think has adopted the sponge and the cave as his own.
Sorry so short, I have to run..