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 June, 2016
Jun 30, 16 Comments Off on Curacao Coral Restoration Foundation, CRFCuracao
Good morning all, we are having a week of hurricane force winds making it tough to do anything outside! Yesterday we were going to take the submersible out for a collecting trip but because of the crazy wind driving big waves to shore we were unable to even get our sub in the water.
So today I have a coral nursery or coral Christmas tree for you that I photographed near the Substation but to the west a little ways. This is a super cool coral restoration project being done by the Curacao Coral Restoration Foundation. What your looking at is baby Staghorn corals that are almost ready to be taken out to the reef and planted if you will in hopes of making new coral colonies. This species of coral is one of the many that are now on the critically endangered list!
Coral Restoration Foundation Curacao successfully set up the first coral nursery on Curacao between May 19th and May 24th. The initial set up consists of 10 “trees” located on the Stella Maris house reef of Ocean Encounters and Lions Dive and Beach Resort.
These trees will provide a safe nurturing environment for fragments of Elkhorn (Acropora palmata) and Staghorn (Acropora cervicornis) until they are ready to restore our reefs.
Collection, installation and training was conducted by experts from the Coral Restoration Foundation International, Ken Nedimyer (Founder and President), Denise Nedimyer, and Mike Echevarria (Chairman CRFI), as well as Coral Restoration Foundation Bonaire’s Augusto Montburn and Francesca Virdis.
Have a wonderful day out there!
Jun 29, 16 Comments Off on Turquoise Sponges Attached to Mangrove Roots
Good morning friends, I have one of the hands down most colorful sponges I have ever found for you today and it was found attached to mangrove roots in Fuik Bay! Yesterday morning at around 8:30 I joined the scientists from Sirenas on a boat ride to Fuik Bay. We were loaded with cameras and dive gear for a fun morning of diving in shallow water along the mangrove roots in search of sponges for medical research. The boat ride there was rough but fun and only took around 20 minutes and once there I immediately jumped in with my tank and camera and went in search of sponges. The first thing I found on the sand was an upside down jellyfish called Cassiopeia xamachana and they were everywhere! As I swam around shooting them I was shocked at just how many colors they came in, the blue ones were out of this world! I then spent the rest of the dive in about three feet of water at the base of the mangrove roots ( trying not to stir up silt) photographing all the different species of colorful sponges that were growing on or around the roots, talk about your rarely seen ecosystems!!! I have a bunch more cool sponge shots that I will get out, I really want to get back there soon and do some more exploring.
Hope all is well out there…
Jun 28, 16 Comments Off on Smashed Yellow Pencil Corals, Coral Damage
Good evening all, what a day!! I went with the Sirenas sponge group to Fuik Bay today (aboard a Boston whaler) and photographed some new sponges in shallow water that were attached to mangrove roots, talk about a fun adventure, I’ll post a photo tomorrow.
Your photo today is a giant colony of Yellow Pencil corals that just got destroyed by a careless fisherman tossing his anchor overboard onto these fragile corals, what a major disaster! Below is an older photo from last year of the exact same colony before it got destroyed, what a difference….
Sorry so short, have a great evening…
Jun 27, 16 Comments Off on Fabien Cousteau, Sirenas Sponge Research Curacao
Good morning friends, first I have the best news ever… It Rained!!! Yes you read that correctly, we didn’t get a ton but it was rain and it left real puddles, it was fantasic!
Aimee was home sick with a cold wednesday, thursday and friday and I tried hard to avoid catching it but came down with it as well on thursday meaning, I ended up not being able to race this weekend because of feeling so bad, what a major drag!
So as promised I have a few photos of Fabien Cousteau who is the grandson to the world famous Jacques Cousteau, a name that pretty much speeks for itself and needs no introduction. Fabien arrived last tuesday and left saturday, he was here to learn more about deep-water submersibles and what it takes to pilot one. He spent days with Bruce (our head pilot and technician) inside and around the sub learning as much as he could in these few short days and leaving with around 8-10 hours of open ocean stick time. He did a bunch of combo-dives with the scientists from SIRENAS (bottom Photo), they are here collecting sponges and using them for medical research trying to finds cures for some of the worst diseases on the planet. When the sub returns with the sponge specimens the scientists dive down to around 50 feet and meet the sub and unload the sponges and rush them to the lab.
Fabien Cousteau is an aquanaut, just like his father and grandfather before him. But more than just exploring the oceans to unlock their mysteries, Fabien went the extra mile by launching his “Plant a Fish” organization. It aims to educate the youth about the importance of protecting our waters and, as its name suggests, inspire them to do their share to create sustainable habitats for fishing. To honor his late grandfather’s 100th birthday, he directs “Mission 31,” and he and his research team will stay under the Florida Keys for 31 days to thoroughly study the current state of our waters.
Here’s a few Extraordinary facts about Fabien I dug up, talk about “been there done that”…..
He is the founder of “Plant a Fish,” an organization that aims to replenish aquatic resources and educate people about the issue.
He is the man behind the documentary, “Shark: Mind of a Demon.”
He partnered with his father and sister to produce “Ocean Adventures.”
He is the Program Director of “Mission 31,” the first underwater exploration which plans to stay underwater for 31 days.
He is the grandson of revered oceanographer Jaques-Yves Cousteau.
He owns a production company, “Bonnet Rouge” (Red Hat).
He has partnered with National Geographic, Discovery, CBS, and PBS to produce environmental documentaries.
He supports New York Harbor School.
He has spoken at Bloomberg, BLUE, Google Zeitgeist, Sundance, Tribeca Film Festival, DLD, Rio+20, BiF and TEDx (Los Angeles/ New York/ Rio).
He was included in The Daily Muse’s list of “50 Fearless Minds.”
Have a wonderful day….
Jun 24, 16 Comments Off on Blue Tang Aggregation, Colorful School of Fish
Good morning friends, what a busy week!!! We have Fabien Cousteau here and the group from Sirenas collecting sponges for medical research meaning yours truly has not been able to find time to post! I will post a Fabien blog with photos either tomorrow or monday so hang in there, you know I’m good for it…
So yesterday when I was returning from 100 feet after photographing Fabien and Paige from Sirenas in the submersible I ran into a beautiful blue wall of Blue Tangs and ended up following them until I ran low on air. This is called a Blue Tang Aggregation and it’s one of the greatest underwater shows on the planet.
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.
Lots and lots to do, have a great day all!!
Jun 21, 16 Comments Off on Green Iguana, Caribbean Reptiles, Curacao Animals
Good morning from Curacao, one of the dryest islands in the Caribbean! I have another shot of our new pet iguana for you all today laying on his favorite rock watching the day go by. His face is again covered in mango juice and from my observaions he doesn’t seem to mind, I think he looks good in orange… After breakfast he will pretty much just lay out there on those rocks all day with tourists passing by taking his picture and the dive boats pointing him out to their guests, he’s really quite the attention getter.
We have Fabien Cousteau arriving today who is the grandson of Jacques Cousteau, he will be here for a week training to operate our submersible.
I’m doing an endurance MTB race saturday with Dorian, he will start and ride for 2 hours and then I will will do the next 2 hours, whatever team completes the most laps wins. My part will go into the night so lights will be needed, it should be fun as part of the course goes trough an old landhouse and we ride down a steep set of front steps.
Still waiting for rain, have a wonderful day!!
Jun 20, 16 Comments Off on Godzilla Goby (Holotype), Varicus lacerta, New Fish
Good morning friends, one of the fish I photographed for the Smithsonian Institution is once again in the news. Last year we took the Chapman (research vessel) to Playa Forti and Playa Jeremi (in Curacao) and some of the top Smithsonian scientists on the planet and this is one of the many things they found way down deep.
Here’s an article written by Joe Rowlett for www.reefs.com; It’s not everyday that we get to witness the actual collection of a newly discovered species, but, thanks to the efforts of the Curasub and a team of Smithsonian researchers, we can join along as the brand new Godzilla Goby was first happened upon. With some help from a squirt of anesthetic and a suction tube, this pint-sized fish was ever-so-carefully extracted from the inside of a bright yellow, vase-shaped sponge at the bone-crushing depth of 130 meters!
Varicus lacerta is just the latest in a long list of newly discovered gobies from the mesophotic reefs of the Caribbean. It’s attractive patterning of yellow and orange, along with its large eyes, ridged head and ferocious row of sharp teeth, gives this species a somewhat lizard-like appearance and led to its unusual moniker and scientific name. The epithet lacerta derives from the Latin for “lizard”, while the common name of Godzilla Goby is obvious enough. Granted, this barely inch-long fish might not strike quite the same imposing figure as its namesake radioactive counterpart, but it is eminently more suitable for a home aquarium. Of course, given how hard this fish is to collect, don’t expect to see it at your local fish store anytime soon.
Varicus belongs to what has until recently been a rather poorly known lineage of gobies endemic to the Western Atlantic and Eastern Pacific Ocean—the Nes subgroup of the Tribe Gobiosomatini. Few of these species are ever collected for aquarists, mostly on account of their frequently drab appearance and their usually cryptic behavior in the wild. With this newest addition, Varicus now has eight species to its name, though one of these still awaits a formal description. Most hail from deeper waters and all sport attractive stripes and spots; the Twilight Goby V. adamsi is a particularly attractive species known from reefs as deep as 400 meters and, with its white and orange striped patterning, is a dead ringer for the Indo-Pacific Amblyeleotris randalli. The half-dozen species in the sister genus Psilotris are morphologically quite similar, but tend to be found in shallower water.Nes longus, the only member of its genus, is one of the more noteworthy relatives of the Godzilla Goby, as it is one of the few gobies in the Atlantic known to form a partnership with a pistol shrimp. This fish is a rarity in aquariums and tends to go unappreciated relative to the gaudy shrimpgobies of the Indo-Pacific, but it does offer something unique to the more discerning fish connoisseur. And even more distantly related is the hugely diverse genus Elacatinus, which includes the familiar Neon Goby (AKA Cleaner Goby) E. oceanops, as well as many other similar species that, like Varicus, often reside within sponges.
Hopefully with the increased attention this group of gobies is now receiving, we might at last begin to see more of these attractive nanofishes trickle into the aquarium trade. I, for one, am eager to start a Gobiosomatini-themed biotope reef tank, replete with Nes shrimpgobies, Elacatinus cleanergobies and the enigmatic and beautiful Godzilla Goby.
Tornabene L, Robertson DR, Baldwin CC (2016) Varicus lacerta, a new species of goby (Teleostei, Gobiidae, Gobiosomatini, Nes subgroup) from a mesophotic reef in the southern Caribbean. ZooKeys 596: 143-156.doi: 10.3897/zookeys.596.8217
Have a great day…
Jun 17, 16 Comments Off on Green Iguana Curacao, Curacao Reptiles, Lizards
Good morning, I have a fresh, hot off the press shot for you of our new pet Green Iguana that showed up about a week ago and seems to be calling our Substation beach area his new home. Right now he is outside in plain view along the waters edge bathing in the sun without a care in the world! Yesterday he was quite the hit with local tourists posing for photos almost all day or at least until it got to hot for him.
Despite their name, green iguanas can come in different colors. In southern countries of their range, such as Peru, green iguanas appear bluish in color with bold blue markings. On islands such as Bonaire, Curaçao, Aruba, and Grenada, a green iguana’s color may range from green to lavender, black, and even pink. Green iguanas from the western region of Costa Rica are red and animals of the northern ranges, such as Mexico, appear orange. Juvenile green iguanas from El Salvador are often bright blue as babies, however they lose this color as they get older.
Adult iguanas found on most of St Lucia, mainly on the north east coast; Louvette and Grand Anse, have many differences compared to all other green iguana populations. They are light green with predominant black stripes. Instead of the typical orange dewlap, the iguanas of St. Lucia have a black dewlap. When compared to the common green iguana, females lay about half the amount of eggs, 25 instead of 50. Scales to the back of their head, near the jawbone, are smaller. Their iris is white or cream. Other green iguanas have yellow eyes.
Green iguanas possess a row of spines along their backs and along their tails, which helps to protect them from predators. Their whip-like tails can be used to deliver painful strikes and like many other lizards, when grabbed by the tail, the iguana can allow it to break, so it can escape and eventually regenerate a new one. In addition, iguanas have a well developed dewlap, which helps regulate their body temperature. This dewlap is used in courtships and territorial displays.
Green iguanas have excellent vision, enabling them to detect shapes and motions at long distances. As green iguanas have only a few rod cells, they have poor vision in low-light conditions. At the same time, they have cells called “double cone cells” that give them sharp color vision and enable them to see ultraviolet wavelengths. This ability is highly useful when basking so the animal can ensure that it absorbs enough sunlight in the forms of UVA and UVB to produce vitamin D.
Have a great weekend!!
Jun 15, 16 Comments Off on NANPA Nature Day, Green Iguana w/Mango Mouth
Good afternoon all, we are having a busy month of sub dives leaving me with little time to blog.
Today is NATURE DAY Worldwide, meaning everyone should either do something nice for nature or be out in it. Because I’m a member of NANPA, North American Nature Photographers Association we were asked to take one photo on this day and post it to their annual Nature Day Photo contest and this is what I came up with today. We have a giant Green Iguana that lives in a cave by the edge of the sea and we feed him mango’s when we have them and as you can tell from his mouth he or she loves them!!
Sorry so short, have a great day!!
Jun 13, 16 Comments Off on Rainbow Wrasse Caught in a Territorial Dispute
Hi all, lots going on these days leaving me with very little time to blog. On Saturaday we had the CIE students from Bonaire again and kept busy with them till 2:00, so much for getting anything else done that day!! Then yesterday was the oposite and it turned out to be a contest seeing just how much a human can do in one day… I first did a three hour mtb ride with my neighbor, then went to the beach, then to the hardware store and bought some lumber and spent hours finishing up the boxing or crating of Aimee’s wooden horse, it’s done! I then went to wish Mark from the World famous Dive Bus Hut a Happy Birthday, stopped and watered the birds in the desert and then picked up Aimee and the dogs for a long afternoon walk carying more water out to the desert to water our poor dry baby agave’s, after that I was cooked!
I have two juvenile Rainbow Wrasses for you today that I found mid-water caught in a major dispute over territory! These little fish are only around four inches in length and can be very aggressive, when I first saw them they both had their mouths open yelling at each other but as I got closser for a photo I ended up with this.
The wrasses are a family, Labridae, of marine fish, many of which are brightly colored. The family is large and diverse, with over 600 species in 82 genera, which are divided into 9 subgroups or tribes. They are typically small fish, most of them less than 20 cm (7.9 in) long, although the largest, the humphead wrasse, can measure up to 2.5 m (8.2 ft). They are efficient carnivores, feeding on a wide range of small invertebrates. Many smaller wrasses follow the feeding trails of larger fish, picking up invertebrates disturbed by their passing. Juveniles of some representatives of the genera Bodianus, Epibulus,Cirrhilabrus, Oxycheilinus, and Paracheilinus hide among the tentacles of the free-living mushroom coral Heliofungia actiniformis.
I have to be underwater soon…
Jun 9, 16 Comments Off on Orange Frogfish, Fish that Blend in With the Reef
Good morning, I took the day off yesterday because we have to work on Saturday and didn’t open my computer all day. Aimee and I started the day off by taking the dogs on a long walk to Saint Joris Bay and came home with some beautiful pieces of driftwood and three super tired, muddy dogs. Aimee then went back to bed with the dogs and I set out to do my Saturday “honey-do-list” and didn’t get home till around noon and then kept busy at the house the rest of the day.
I have a beautiful orange Frogfish for you all today that we found at a dive site called “Something Special” in Bonaire a few years back. Bonaire is for sure one of the best places to find the exotic hard to locate sea-creatures like Frogfish and Seahorses although our friends here at the Dive Bus seem to find them all the time in Curacao as well.
Frogfishes are any member of the anglerfish family Antennariidae, of the order Lophiiformes. Antennariids are known as anglerfishes in Australia, where the term “frogfish” refers to members of the unrelated family Batrachoididae. Frogfishes are found in almost all tropical and subtropical oceans and seas around the world, the primary exception being the Mediterranean Sea.
Frogfishes are small, short and stocky, and sometimes covered in spinules and other appendages to aid in camouflage. The camouflage aids in protection from predators and to enables them to lure prey. Many species can change color; some are covered with other organisms such as algae or hydrozoa. In keeping with this camouflage, frogfishes typically move slowly, lying in wait for prey, and then striking extremely rapidly, in as little as 6 milliseconds.
Have a great day out there..
Jun 6, 16 Comments Off on Juvenile Queen Angelfish, Colorful Reef Fish
Good morning friends, I placed second again this weekend in the annual Sorsaka MTB race, sponsored by Bsure Insurance group. This is by the far one of the hardest races of the year, it’s about 25 miles which is three full loops around the Jan Thiel salt pond and this time they designed the route so you have to climb just about every hill out there! For once I had a great start and managed to hold my own and may have won if not for a stupid flat tire but these are the spoils of racing! I also had my GoPro on for most of the race mounted to the back of my seat post but other than the start the rest of the video is boring, you would never know there are 65 riders chasing me, it’s just 60 minutes of looking at my rear tire and watching the trails fly by!
I have a mega-colorful juvenile Queen Angelfish for you all today that I had a hard time photographing because of how shy they are. This was yet another case of, “if you blink you will miss it”, they know your there and they come out of their caves at high speed and race to another cave and if your not ready, well you get the picture…
Have a wonderful day!!
Jun 3, 16 Comments Off on Free Diving, Snorkeling with Bottlenose Dolphins
Hi friends, today is our 16th wedding Anniversary and thought it would be best to post a fun photo of my bel oved one doing what she loves best, spending her days with dolphins! Aimee and I have been here in Curacao since 2004, who would have known one little phone call would have led to such an adventure?? As most of you know my woman can hold her breath for a crazy long time and do it over and over, I on the other hand would be lucky if I could hold my breath for a minute!! As you can see from the photo above she’s as comfortable underwater as above and this is most likely why the dolphins love her so much, I mean who want to swim with a frantic snorkeler??
I also apologize for the lack of activity on the blog these past few days but I finally found a man to help me fix and update my website. Things we have already changed or fixed are updating our About page, putting “Driftwood Creations”, “Educational Talks”, “Help Save the Nautilus”, “Peru 2014” and “Published Works” back on the front page under GENERAL, those links have been missing for years! We are also in the process of building an “Educational Talks Page” for schools, collages and museums who wish to hire us to do talks, should be a lot of fun!
I have the hardest race of the year tomorrow, 3 loops around the salt pond and it’s all uphill, it will be 25 miles of pain!!
Have a great weekend!