ABOUT

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.

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Archive for the ‘Islands + Topside Attractions’

Jul 13, 17     Comments Off on The Rare Blue Beads of St. Eustatius, Slave Beads, Rare Beads

Hi friends, while in St. Eustatius a while back shooting photos for the Smithsonian Institution I discovered a story of the islands history that few know involving these elusive five-sided, very hard to find blue beads once worn by slaves. My little adventure began onboard the Chapman research vessel with the arrival of some local divers all having at least one big blue bead hanging proudly from their necks. We immediately asked “what’s the story with your beads”? They then told us a story similar to the below article I found in Sport Diver that went something like this…

St. Eustatius or Statia once known as the trading center of the world, used to attract thousands of merchant ships to it’s shores each year. In the 17th and 18th centuries Dutch merchants brought unique pentagonal blue glass beads from Amsterdam to Statia’s marketplace. These blue beads were used to acquire slaves from western Africa who then later used the blue beads as currency on the island, and even sometimes to buy their freedom.

Strangely enough, these same blue beads now beckon divers, not to Statia’s markets but to its surrounding waters. Legend has it that after emancipation slaves threw their blue beads into the sea to celebrate their freedom. Another theory says a ship carrying beads sank or was sunk by the slaves sending the precious blue beads to their watery grave. Divers say that at the blue bead dive site (hole), one doesn’t find a bead but instead it finds or chooses you and once found you belong to Statia and are destined to return again and again.

Over the next few weeks I ended up getting off the ship and going to shore in hopes of finding one of these precious blue beads washed ashore, as we were told this is how many are found. I walked and walked the volcanic sandy beaches and even did some snorkeling in the shallows but never found one, most likely because most of them are found after a storm with big waves, and all we had was calm water the whole time. There is a dive spot called the “blue bead hole”, but I never got out there; they claim this was where a ship went down and many beads were lost. As I walked around town I started noticing many of the locals had a blue bead around their necks that they had found, and I managed to get some of the above shots on my walk. The last photo shows a collection of ancient glass beads that can be seen in the local museum but are different than the ever sought after five-sided blue-beads that everyone is hunting for. For those of you treasure hunters, if you thought hunting for gold was addictive spend a few days looking for these amazing beads, it will drive you crazy!

I do have a four page article that really explains these beads even more. If anyone is interested, just let me know, and I will send it to you.

Have a great day…

Barry

 

Jun 21, 17     Comments Off on Valley of the Sponges Dive Site, St. Eustatius

Good morning, I’m finally getting around to actual dive photos I took on my last trip to the Caribbean, here’s a little window into a dive-site called “Valley of the Sponges”. The morning we did this dive a small boat came from shore over to our ship and picked me and two other Smithsonian friends up and off we went for a three hour, two tank dive. Because St. Eustatius is one big volcano we had to go almost two miles offshore to get to this dive-site, it’s for sure the furthest I have ever been from any given shore. I remember we were already soaked before we even got to the drop-site because of high winds, big waves and a tiny boat, good thing I had already put on my wetsuit. Once we arrived we wasted no time getting in, especially after that crazy ride, we all knew it would be nice and calm underwater and raced to jump in. I had two science people with and they both took off in different directions in search of something different and I went in search of beautiful reef scenes. These kind of dive trips are hard for me because I know I will most likely not be back and I try as hard as I can to cover as much reef as possible in a one hour time period. On my way down from the boat I can usually see my first objects to shoot and from there I race around like a crazy person trying to take as many photos as I can in this short period of time, it actually should be an Olympic event. This particular dive-site was littered with my favorite giant red barrel sponges and they were in every shape and color, I was honestly going crazy trying to figure out how can I shoot them all! I did end up with a great collection of photos, one of my favorites is the top one with the corals growing inside the barrel sponge, this would be a rare sight in Curacao but here I found this fairly common, maybe they know they are more protected in there?? Any ways, if you are visiting the island of St. Eustatius have your dive operator take you here, it’s truly a unique dive-site with lots of sponges, sea-fans and barracuda’s.

Off to start the day..

Barry

Oct 4, 16     Comments Off on Bonaire License Plate, Divers Paradise Plate
Sep 20, 16     Comments Off on Message in a Bottle Floating in the Carribean Sea
Sep 19, 16     Comments Off on Coastal Clean-Up Day September 16th, 17th & 18th
Sep 6, 16     Comments Off on Sea-Glass, Beach Glass, Caribbean Sea Glass

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Good morning friends, I have a Caribbean sea-glass photo for you all today that we shot in Bonaire last week on our two day mini-vacation. Sea glass is a unique thing, it first went from being discarded trash thrown into the sea or on the beach and then “presto” many, many years later it’s now a collected treasure, I wish all trash could be reused like this. If your in Bonaire and looking for sea-glass check out the beaches on Klein Bonaire, you will have to take a water taxi to get there and keep in mind its HOT so take plenty to drink. Klein Bonaire also has very little to no shade so take hats and sunscreen, if you wanting to walk around the whole island that will take around two hours. 

Not a lot going on these days, we kind of lost our winds and it’s trying to rain, very strange time of year. They are still predicting warmer seas for this area some time this month which could cause coral bleaching, I am watching…

I hope you all are well out there, keep in touch.

Barry

 

 

Sep 5, 16     Comments Off on Donkey Sanctuary Bonaire, Animal Rescue Bonaire

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Good morning all, as most of you know Aimee and I took off to Bonaire last week for the worlds fasted mini-vacation/business trip which mainly involved me taking photos on the beach all day. We were only there for two days and on the last day we passed by the Bonaire Donkey Sanctuary and of course we had to stop! For most people when you say Bonaire they think of trouble free diving, kite surfing or flamingos but for the most part are unaware of the donkey sanctuary. 

As the story goes, In 1993 Marina Melis (top photo) and her husband Ed Koopman, both from Holland established a donkey sanctuary on Bonaire for sick, wounded and orphaned donkeys. This wonderful sanctuary not only provides help to donkeys in distress, but strives to offer a protected life to all the donkeys on Bonaire. They also distribute information among the local community, schools and tourists, helping to raise awareness and understanding. Hundreds (600 to date) have found shelter here, they are provided food and water and medical care if needed. The sanctuary is located on route to Lac Bay and opens at 10:00 every day seven days a week. Donkeys have been living on this tropical island for hundreds of years originally brought over by Spanish to use for hard labor. 

Finding a long-term solution for the feral donkeys on Bonaire, and in other places with similar challenges, is complex. For the past 21 years, the Donkey Sanctuary Bonaire has been responding to nearly all donkey emergencies on the island and taking care of its sick, injured and orphaned donkeys. However, a sanctuary is only one aspect of feral donkey management. Part of The Donkey Sanctuary’s new strategy is to learn from good practice in the management of feral donkey populations and it is by helping to share this information, along with open discussions with residents, locals vets and representatives of the Bonaire Government, that the long-term welfare of Bonaire’s donkeys will be safeguarded.

Aimee and I had a total blast here as you can see from the above photos starting with a visit to see a new born (photo #2) that was so cute and playful. Aimee instantly fell in love with this little one and asked me countless times if we could take a donkey home?? We had a great intern from Holland that gave us the grand tour showing us not only the new born but also some of the sad cases like photo #3 showing what happens when a donkey and a speeding car collide… Photo #4 shows the name collars for the original donkeys many years ago, Aimee’s name is one of them, I didn’t see mine. The remaining photos I shot during our one hour drive around the 165 acre loop, it was super fun. Aimee bought carrots and fed them to all who came to our window “which was a lot”, we needed more carrots! You can also buy a bale of hale and sit on your tailgate and feed and drive, it’s a great way to get closer to them. During the driving tour you can stop anywhere and go hiking, the donkeys will follow you and almost all of them let us pet them, such fun creatures! Before we left we stopped into the gift shop and filled out papers to “adopt a donkey”, it sure goes to a great cause…

Here’s the link, check out the adoption page.

www.donkeysanctuary.org 

Have a wonderful day..

Barry

Sep 2, 16     Comments Off on Pokemon Sign in CURACAO, Don’t Pokemon!!

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Good morning friends, we are back from our three day mini-vacation to Bonaire, it was fun while it lasted! On our way to the airport in Curacao last tuesday we passed this “DON’T POKEMON and DRIVE” sign and I had to stop to take a photo! I’m pretty much lost for words on this, have we taken a giant leap backwards in human evolution?? I thought Pokemon was a child’s game and now we are telling grown adults to not Pokemon and drive?? Someone out there please help me with this one….

Our Bonaire trip was filled with ups and downs starting with Insel Air being our first down. We got to the airport two hours early and just before boarding for our 15 minute flight to Bonaire they changed our departure time to another two hours, so we sat there for over four hours, I guess we should have just gone with Divi-Divi or rented a kayak? We stayed at Ocean Breeze apartments right across from the airport and it was great, it had all the comforts of home and more. We spent most of wednesday photographing sea-glass on the beach at our favorite dive site called Invisibles, it was such a beautiful place to hang out. On thursday we finished up on photos at the same place and then spent the rest of the afternoon at the Bonaire Donkey Sanctuary, I will post photos and a story tomorrow of that adventure. Our trip went fast, we found out Bonaire has become very expensive to do anything except for the Donkey place that was only $7, next time we will eat all our meals at home.

Hope all is well out there, tons to do!!

Have a great weekend.

Barry

May 4, 16     Comments Off on Sint Willibrordus Roman Catholic Church, Curacao
May 3, 16     Comments Off on Boca Tabla Curacao, Boca Pistol, Shete Boka
Nov 23, 15     Comments Off on 2015 Curacao Xtreme Duo Mountain Bike Race
Nov 18, 15     Comments Off on Message in a Bottle Photo, Floating Glass Bottle
Nov 10, 15     Comments Off on East Side of Klein Curacao, Lori Lang Photos

 

 

Nov 2, 15     Comments Off on Message in a Bottle Photo Image, Old Bottles

 

 

 

 

Jun 19, 15     Comments Off on Polar Beer Photo with Palm Trees, Curacao

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