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, 2016
May 31, 16 Comments Off on Underwater Blue Light Photos/Images
Good morning from way down South!! I have a new Blue-Light collage for you all today that we (Aimee and I) shot a few weeks ago with Stijn at a dive-site called Tugboat. This has turned out to be one of the hands down best spots in Curacao for finding cool stuff with the blue-lights. Not only do you have the pier to search under which is a blast in itself, you have the tugboat, huge concrete pilings, a sandy bottom filled with tons of giant anemones, glowing goatfish and lizardfish and beautiful coral heads just about everywhere you look. I have been trying to get all of us over there again for another dive but with all the cycling I am doing right now there just doesn’t seem to be enough time. Remember if you go night diving here there are no lights at all and no security, don’t leave anything of value in your cars! The last time I went I took my homeless guy (his name is Erik) with us to stay with the car while we went diving, this worked really well.
I have to get moving, be safe out there…
May 30, 16 Comments Off on Invasive Lionfish in Curacao, Invasive Animals
Good morning friends, guess what?? It rained! It wasn’t a lot but it was our first good shower in ages! At 5:00 I heard rain hitting the window and jumped out of bed and raced to the front door to make sure I wasn’t dreaming, it was great! Aimee and I then sprinted upstairs and sat on the porch listening to this long overdue H2O wonder, it had been at least 5 months since this last happened! Yesterday we were just saying how bad all our little agave plants need water but it’s so hard to get water out to them, this just saved us a week of doing that task alone!
I spent the weekend riding, building a wooden crate for Aimee’s horse sculpture, sanding and painting the top of our old car and getting the hound dogs out for a good long walk Sunday morning.
For weeks I have been diving trying to get a front view of a lionfish like the one above but I need it without all the distracting reef in the background, this is turning out to be an impossible task! If any of you local divers know of a lionfish that is hovering above the reef and not buried in it please give the brother a call and I will be right over!
Have a great day out there…
May 27, 16 Comments Off on Sponge Face, Faces in Nature, Natural Faces
Hey gang, we are getting a tiny bit of rain for the first time in months this morning and I pray it continues, you can’t believe how dry it is here!!
I went on yet another dive in search of lionfish yesterday and again came back with zero photos?? I did find my giant hermit crab and he was only a few meters away from where I had left him the day before, I guess he loves our mucky sand.. My find of the day other than finding the crab again was this fun sponge face that was filled with little gobies (small fish), look close and you can see them. The sponge is called a purple tube sponge Aplysina lacunosa and can grow to be many feet tall, it’s truly one of the top most decorative sponges on the reef.
I have to be underwater in a few minutes, still lots to do!!!
Have a wonderful day.
May 26, 16 Comments Off on Giant Hermit Crab, Petrochirus Diogenes, Crabs
Good morning all, a few days ago I posted a photo of this very same hermit crab but in a different shell, here’s the story of how that happened… Last Friday I found and photographed this new giant hermit crab and he was in an old beat-up shell that barely fit him, (check out the older blog photo). So after getting out of the water I ran into my office and grabbed some other empty shells for him and tossed them in the water next to him but they also turned out to be either to small or the same size as the one he already was in. I did jump in again and I watched as he measured one of the shells out for size but after checking it out decided it was the same as the one he had and left it. So I again got out of the water and ran over to the sea-lion area where I knew they had a collection of old Queen conch shells sitting on top of a wall and asked if I could take one for my crab, they said no problem. I then ran back to where he was and without getting in the water tossed the giant shell in and it landed about three feet away from him, I knew he would find it. As it was the end of the day (Friday) I had to go and figured all would be alright, I pretty much knew he would find the shell and that would be that and I most likely wouldn’t see him again. So come Monday morning I told Barbara my colleague that I was going to jump in on scuba and go see if I could find him and she told me, “this weekend I was here snorkeling and saw a giant octopus on top of one of your shells, I’m not sure he is still alive?” This had me worried and off I went, I didn’t find him but the giant shell I threw in was gone?? This could mean a tourist took it or the crab did find it and was happily on his way, how will I ever know?? Tuesday came along still no sign of him, I was pretty worried as this was the coolest crab I had seen and I thought an octopus had gotten him! So yesterday, Wednesday I jumped in with my camera and did a deep-dive in search of lionfish and again I saw two but they both were super scared and went deep into the reef leaving me without any photos! On my way back I took a different route that would have me exiting the water in an area where the main Sea Aquarium/Lions Dive lagoon is and the only way to get here from our lagoon is over a massive wall of submerged rocks and under a bridge. As I was getting close to my exit in about 15 feet of water I saw the giant Queen conch shell in the distance sitting on top of the sand and as I got closer I saw two large antenna sticking out and knew immediately this was my crab!! I was so happy to see him and quickly picked him up and set him on an old coral head for a quick photo shoot (photo above) and after put him back in the sand where I found him. I then watched as he dug his giant claws deep into the sand in search of food and after a few minutes I said good-bye, I will be going out again in a few minutes and will try to find him for the third time, he’s such a beautiful animal!!
Busy day ahead, have a great day!!
May 25, 16 Comments Off on French Angelfish Face Shot, Colorful Reef Fish
Good morning all, we had a busy morning of feeding and watering the birds, walking the dogs, carrying water out to the desert to water our baby agaves and taking out paint and brushes to re-paint my bridge on the Frangipani trail, all this was done before 8:30!! About three years ago Stijn and I built this long bridge for the mountain bikers and hikers on one of my trails and it’s now time to re-paint it so I at least got the paint and brushes carried out there and ready. The dogs are now home asleep and Aimee even gave them all baths, a tired dog is a good dog in our book!
Curacao is once again getting slammed with high winds and crazy heat, still little to no rain has fallen since the first of the year??
In a few minutes I will be jumping into the sea to continue my search for a cooperative lionfish but I’m not holding my breath, I may have to just go do a dive on the North coast were they are easier to find.
I have a solitary French Angelfish for you all today that I found following me around under the pier at Caracasbaai without a care in the World!
Hope you all are doing well, we sure miss hanging out with our US friends!!
May 24, 16 Comments Off on Laughing Chewbacca Mask Lady (Full Video)
Good morning friends, I was super busy yesterday diving with the sub and had no time to post the blog so I’m getting it done now. I did end up doing the 63k East to West race this weekend and it was awesome!! This is about a 40 mile race from one end of our island to the other and I did it in a little over 2 hours, is that crazy or what?? I managed to hold 6th position for around 35 miles and then got passed by riders who went the wrong way and didn’t do the trails they were supposed to, so I ended up finishing around 10th overall, not bad for an old guy!! Below is a link my buddy Hans sent me of the course we did and the times, I never in a million years would have guessed I could have done this in the time I did, I’m still shocked! The course was mostly rough two-track jeep roads that span alongside our whole north coast, the scenery was beautiful!
Also, I’m sure most of you have seen this but if not take 4 minutes out of your busy life and turn up the volume, this clip has been seen over 101 million times in the past few days, I laughed so hard I cried, it’s fantastic!!
Have a great day out there….
May 20, 16 Comments Off on Giant Underwater Hermit Crab, Curacao Crabs
Hi all, I’m diving like crazy these days and still haven’t found the lionfish I’m looking for if you can believe that, for some reason they are getting hard to find around here?? But I did find something amazing yesterday and it’s something I have never seen here before?? As I was heading out to photograph the sub I found the largest hermit crab I have ever seen in these waters. The old Queen conch shell alone that he is carrying around measures at least 10 inches across!! The crab itself is completely unafraid of anything as you can see above, I was in his or her face and he could have cared less and just kept posing for me. I also observed the crab in motion, he walks in a sideways pattern and get this, he or she can cover about a meter (3 feet) in less than 5 seconds, that’s one fast crab!! I sent this photo to my friend Darryl so we should know soon what his name is….
OK, I just heard back from Darryl L. Felder, PhD who is the professor of Biology at the University of Louisiana, he said we are looking at a Petrochirus Diogenes, one of the largest hermet crabs in the Caribbean. He said it can grow to twice this size and is usually found further offshore but occasionally will find it’s way to shallow waters. Thanks a million Darryl!!
Hope you all have a wonderful weekend, I’m thinking about doing a 70k race, wish me luck!!
May 18, 16 Comments Off on Lionfish, Scrawled Filefish, Curacao Tropical Fish
Good afternoon, I just got out of some really rough seas making the entry and exit a bit sketchy, I’m sure my mother would not approve! I again went in search of Lionfish but unbelievably only found two, they must either be hiding or are finally fished out from this area?? I’m still in need of a nice front view shot of a lionfish above the reef with just water and no coral in the background, I thought it would be the easiest shot in the world to get but boy was I ever wrong!! While searching the reef for the lionfish I came across these two beautiful Scrawled Filefish (top photo) and what I believe is a male and a female. Usually these fish quietly swim away if I get to close but today they were either so into each other or so intent on something to eat that they paid very little attention to me and just did their thing. Not sure you can see the insane patterns these fish have because of the small photos but trust me it’s amazing! These fish have the ability to change colors in the blink of an eye and have a long spine on top of their heads that can be raised or lowered depending on how they are feeling.
Hope all is well out there….
May 17, 16 Comments Off on Sunken Ships, Wreck Diving in Curacao
Good morning all, I stayed home yesterday due to a sore back caused from Sundays crazy hard 45k mountain bike race. I finished the race in under 2 hours and placed fifth in Masters, 14th overall, not bad for an old goat. The minute I crossed the finish line and went to my car my back went into some kind of weird spassam and made it almost impossible to stand up, talk about painful!!! The race itself was almost entirely into the wind and unlike some of the others who drafted each other to finish I was out there on my own. Next week there is a race from the east end of the island to the the west end, that’s around 45 miles, not sure I’m up for that although the wind would be at our backs for once.
I have a beautiful split-level shot of a sunken tugboat from a dive-site called SABA which can only be accessed by boat. Saba is located between Sea Aquarium and Zanzibar beach meaning if you want to do it as a shore dive you would have to carry your tank and dive gear about a mile from either direction or get a wheel barrow and start pushing. For this photo I carried just my camera, mask, and fins and jumped in at the little beach in front of the salt ponds, it was way easier then carrying a tank. I have done this as a boat dive and it’s one of the only places I have ever seen batfish and we not only saw one but found two of them together, talk about a rare sighting!!!
Hope you all are doing well out there!!!
May 13, 16 Comments Off on Flying Gurnard, Fish with Wings, Colorful Fish
Good morning from Curacao. We have a new resident that moved into our little sub basin last week and each time I have jumped in I have found him. This is a small Flying Gurnard, one of the most bizarre and interesting fish I have ever seen!
The flying gurnard has a magnificent presence and composure compared to other salt water fish, in fact there is no other fish that looks quite like the gurnard. These fish can be found all along the waters of Japan, Polynesia, and even finding its way in the shallow seas of Hawaii. Learn all about this Dactylopteridae family of fish from where they sleep to what they eat.
Sure they may be called flying, but they actually are very slow and “walk” along the bottoms of the ocean floor with their very wide and long fins that look like a wing span. These fins usually have a neon blue ridge, and are covered in dark spots along with their body. These spots gleam off the sunlight giving them a dazzling look as they search for their food along the sands. Their large fins can make their body look quite small, especially their tiny head with two alert eyes poking out. Their scales are somewhat heavy, which is one of the reasons why this fish is so slow. These weighty scales are used as protection since they are exceptionally thick.
Living on the bottom of the ocean, these fish make their resting spot along a seabed and come out during the day to find food to feed upon. They never leave their area and are always found on the sea floor, as their bodies are much to heavy to swim upwards. They can make for a great salt water aquarium fish as they can keep to themselves and not bully any other fish (make sure to read on which fish they do not prey on) that might get in their way.
The diet of a flying gurnard may be surprising to some, since they seem like a docile fish that would only eat algae and coral, but they are the complete opposite. They eat many fish smaller than themselves and have a fondness for shrimp and even crabs. They are scavengers, so if they are living in a tank, a full small crab, shell included is something they would pick clean. Being carnivorous, they will only eat meat and if they can’t find enough in the wild, they will slowly migrate to the next ocean floor.
Flying gurnards are a distinctive species of fish with a one of a kind look. They are beautiful to look at and they pose no big threat to fish larger than themselves. Thanks to second-opinion-doc.com for that wonderful information.
I did three dives again yesterday and I am getting ready for one more right now. This weekend I have a hard 45k race on Sunday so wish me luck!
Have a great day…
May 11, 16 Comments Off on Sponge Faces, Faces in Nature, Abstract Face
Hi gang, I’ve been underwater most of the day trying to find a cooperative lionfish and so far I have had zero luck. On my first dive I was down at 90 feet where I had seen one yesterday and out of the blue my camera started leaking from an old O-ring forcing me to get out very quickly! On the second dive I found five lionfish but couldn’t get one of them to look into the camera for the shot I needed so I settled on a sponge with a face as my photo of the day. This is the second time I have found this species of sponge with a face and believe it or not they are hard to find. On my third dive I again got down to 100 feet to start the lionfish hunting and again had two new problems with the camera. The first problem was the strobes were not firing and second I had a new leak and my leak detector was going crazy! Most folks including the magazines I sell to have no idea the effort and frustrations involved with underwater photography, some times like today I get out of the water and want to cry! I did end up with some nice profile lionfish shots but what I wanted was a head on shot, I’ll get it but it may take some time…
We have overcast skies keeping the temperatures down but still no rain??
Have a wonderful day!
May 10, 16 Comments Off on Longlure Frogfish, Fish that Look like Sponges
Good afternoon gang, I had a submersible dive first thing this morning meaning, we had paid guests onboard and I met them underwater for a photo shoot which is included in the $650 ticket price. Tomorrow I’m in search of lionfish to photograph and like always when you want one you can’t find one, even earlier today when I was underwater I only saw two.
So above I have a very hidden, pink Longlure Frogfish that I found on the back of the tugboat at Caracasbaai, can you spot her?? The reason I say her is because most of the larger frogfish are females and the males are much smaller. Typically if you find one frogfish there is a good chance another is close by but good luck trying to find it, they are true masters of disguise!
Sorry so short, a lot going on today!!
See you soon.
May 9, 16 Comments Off on Adult Queen Angelfish, Holocanthus ciliaris
Good morning from the Caribbean, I trust all the moms out there had a wonderful Mother’s Day??? I tried calling mine but was unable to get a line out, this happens quite often when so many are trying to the same thing from such a tiny island. We went to a major Mothers day party last night over at Stijn’s grandparents house. She made multiple white asparagus dishes, steaks, soups, potato yumminess and on and on, we went to bed fat and happy!
I have one of the hands down most colorful fish we have in Curacao for you all today called a Queen Angelfish or Holocanthus ciliaris for you fish people out there. This beauty here was easily over a foot and a half in length and barely slowed down for me to take a photo. I shot this at the Superior Producer (ship wreck) at around 100 foot and if I remember correctly I was only able to get a few shots due to these fish being afraid of their own shadows! As juveniles these fish are what we call “little reef gems” and are a major joy to find. I think in the years we have been here I have only found about a dozen of these little things and most times never had the right lens.
Have a great week out there….
May 6, 16 Comments Off on Tiger Grouper, Large, Bonaire Reef Fish
Hi all, it’s Friday!!! As a friendly reminder Mothers Day is this Sunday, so do whatever it takes to make yours feel super special!
Yesterday was yet another Curacao holiday, that’s two for this week alone making this week fly by!
I have a Tiger Grouper for you all today that I found on one of my many dives in beautiful Bonaire. These poor fish have been more or less wiped out from Curaçao either by fisherman or spearfishing, I think I have only seen 5 in the 12 years I have been diving here. Unlike Bonaire, Curacao has no fishing regulations what so ever and if they do they can not be enforced. Seeing these fish is one of the top reasons we love to go to Bonaire, you can find these at just about any dive site on the island.
I’m now 100% committed to building my new mountain bike trail which I did work on yesterday for around two hours. I think I told you a few days ago I ran into a monster sized bee-hive in my path and yesterday spent the morning re-routing the whole trail just to avoid the nest and I surrounded it with cut brush to keep curious dogs out as well.
Have a great day all!!
May 4, 16 Comments Off on Sint Willibrordus Roman Catholic Church, Curacao
Good morning from the driest place in the Caribbean. This is our second week of overcast skies with zero rain, it’s honestly one of the most discouraging things we have encountered here.
I have a new Willibrordus church photo for you all today that we stopped at and photographed this weekend on our fun one day tour of the island. In the 12 years we have been here I think this has been repainted 2 or 3 times and each time the paint seems to get a little brighter, maybe so folks can see it from the moon?? Sint Willibrordus Roman Catholic church was built between 1884 and 1888 in the Neo-Gothic architectural style common for churches built in that period. The design being an input of architect E.K.Margrij, it was constructed by the builder-priest V.Jansen. It was common for priests to be engaged in building activities in those days. The church was the second to be built on the site. The first one was erected in 1849 by the community. Under the inspiring leadership of Monsignor Niewindt, bishop and missionary, who worked from 1824 until 1860 on the island, small parishes were set up throughout the island with a small school and a church. These structures quite often were not more than shelters. Sint Willibrord village was among the first parishes to be founded by the Roman Catholic mission. The church was renovated with the support of the Curaçao Monuments Foundation in 1999.
Got in a nice little bike ride last night, it was mega windy and super dry but was still fun to be out there.
Have a great day.