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 the ‘Reef Scenes + Aerials’
Jul 15, 16 Comments (0)
Good morning readers, it’s almost weekend time!
Today I have an insane colony of Pillar Corals for your viewing pleasure that I shoot on yesterdays dive. The conditions yesterday were close to perfect which is so import for those of use taking expensive electronics underwater and hoping to capture something beautiful. When I saw this from a distance it was like the heavens opened up and guided me to it and once there it was glowing with an almost spiritual light, it was really one of those dives I will never forget! Not sure if you can tell from the small photo but there are fish everywhere, this is what a healthy coral reef should look like, all I can say is “Wowzers”!
Pillar coral forms an encrusted base from which grow vertical cylindrical, round-ended columns. This coral can grow to a height of 3 m (10 ft) with pillars more than 10 cm (4 in) wide but is usually much smaller than this. The corallites from which the polyps protrude are smaller than 1 cm (0.4 in) in diameter and arranged in shallow meandering valleys with low ridges in between. The skeleton of the coral is not usually visible because the polyps are typically extended during the daytime, unlike most other coral species. The mass of undulating tentacles gives the coral a furry appearance. This coral is usually some shade of beige or brown.
Pillar coral is a zooxanthellate species, with symbiotic dinoflagellate algae living within the tissues. In sunlight these undergo photosynthesis and most of the organic compounds they produce are transferred to their host, while they make use of the coral’s nitrogenous wastes. These algae give the coral its brownish color and restrict it to living in shallow water into which the sunlight can penetrate.
Pillar coral is a slow-growing, long-lived species. A number of columns grow up from a basal plate; if the whole colony is dislodged and topples over, new cylindrical pillars can grow vertically from the fallen coral. Some specimens have been found where this has happened more than once, and the history of the colony can be deduced from its shape. If a pillar gets detached and becomes lodged in a suitable position, it can continue to live, sending up new pillars from the base and other parts of the column.
Each pillar coral clonal colony is either male or female. Sexual reproduction takes place with gametes being released into the water column where fertilisation takes place. The larvae that hatch out of the eggs are planktonic and drift with the currents before settling on the seabed to found new colonies.
I was out trying to get some new shots of our pet iguana but he is getting more and more shy, I guess that’s a good thing, it may keep him alive longer.
Have a wonderful weekend…
Jul 13, 16 Comments (0)
Hey gang, I have a BEAUTIFUL coral reef scene for you all today that I took in around 25 feet of water in front of the Sea Aquarium or Shipwreck Point as it’s known around here. This is a mixture of soft and hard corals with the centerpiece being the soft coral gorgonian surrounded by the orange fire corals on the right and massive colonies of starlet corals on the left and in the middle. This is a great example of what a healthy coral reef should like and I pray it stays this way even though scientists are predicting warmer seas here later in the year which could end up bleaching everything.
Lots to as usual.
Dec 30, 13 Comments Off on Curacao Coral Reef Photo, Colorful Reef Scenes
Good morning friends, it’s almost 2014!!! Well, I must say it was another great year here in Curacao! We again had many friends visit from the States and Europe, I learned more about the island and took thousands of new photos, I wasn’t sick once this year and I was able to ride, build trails and walk the dogs every week, what more could you ask for??
Stijn and I took off to the West end of the island yesterday morning and rode the beautiful trails along the coast near Watamulla. These are by far some of the best hiking/mountain biking trails we have to offer here on the island, it’s pretty much non-stop fun from start to finish. Because of the rains this area is currently super green and the covered in small ground-cover type flowers. We also rode by a large group of wild mules with babies and saw countless ospreys gliding on the wind, it’s a photographers dream area this time of year!
I have a Curacao reef scene for your viewing pleasure today filled with pillar corals, (middle) star corals and a bunch gorgonians that look like underwater bushes.
I will be taking off on a needed vacation on the 6th of July so beware there may be no updates for a few weeks BUT if I can find the time I will load some photos.
Have a wonderful day, Barry
Sep 17, 13 Comments Off on Shipwreck Point, Sea Aquarium House Reef, Curacao
Good morning readers, I had a request from some divers that are on their way to Curacao and wanted to see some reef scenes from Shipwreck Point or as we know it, the Sea Aquarium house reef. I took these yesterday on my morning dive with a friend and fellow underwater photographer and as you can see it’s a pretty darn good looking reef! Shipwreck point is known for it’s cool “ship artifacts” like giant propellers and monster sized anchors that range in all different sizes and are always a blast to swim over. Years ago we even had two beautiful tug-boats that sat in 45 feet of water but now rest at 175 feet!! Yes, thanks to a big storm those two tugs slid all the way down the reef and somehow ended up next to each other looking like they just got unloaded off a trailer?? We now take folks to the tugs with the submersible but they are still accessible by scuba as well but you only have about 3 minutes to enjoy the view because of the depth. Also we have a little wall called “Gordy’s Wall” which is at 100 feet and can be found by following a line from one of the sunken anchors, it’s a great dive and we always see great stuff there. This reef has a lot of different corals, forests of swaying gorgonians and thousands of small fish you honestly won’t be disappointed! The top photo is a beautiful little sea-rod I found right at the edge of the reef. The second photo is a big red barrel sponge, the third is a colony of yellow fire coral and finger corals and the last photo is a colony of mountainous star-coral with four blue tangs hanging out at a cleaning station. The downside to diving here is you need a boat!! I don’t because I work here but if your wanting to dive it you will need to charter this as the Sea Aquarium does not allow divers to walk through and wander around.
Stijn placed third in a big race this weekend in Sirinam, he was up against riders that were much older but still managed to place! I am riding with both my little speed freaks tonight at 4:30, I will pick up Dorian first and then meet Stijn at his house for a two hour ride at Saint Joris, should be fun!!
Well, I have a ton to do as usual, have a wonderful day all!!
See ya, Barry
Aug 20, 13 Comments Off on Playa Forti Dive Site Curacao, Natural Reef Ball
Good evening friends, I just got back from a super fast ride with my friend Dorian and figured why not get an early start on tomorrows blog. Here is another solitary coral, fish and sponge shot from the giant sand area at Playa Forti located on the Western tip of the island. The photo I posted today of the giant stove pipe sponge colony was within view of this beautiful, lone chunk of substrate that was completely covered in sea life! This is truly a unique dive site because of how much sand there is and how far one must swim just to get out to the reef! What I did was just swim from one underwater oasis to another as you see above, I mean honestly if there isn’t much around for fish to hide in they will use what they can for cover. If you look closely even though the photo is so small you will see many fish species, anemones, sponges, and even corals, it’s a block-o-rock that is home to hundreds of different animals! I am planning on going back here tomorrow but this time with a model to help show the size of some of these sponges, if anyone wants to go let me know.
It’s been non-stop scientists from the Smithsonian running around our place for weeks now working on so many different projects. I have tried hard to sway a few of them to come do something fun with me during the day but they are definitely not here to play, it’s round the clock work for these guys. Carole Baldwin continues to collect deep-water fish and Lee Weigt is building ARMS traps/boxes all day long and yesterday took three of them back down to different depths with the sub. My friend and the new director of the Smithsonian Kirk Johnson and his wife left on Tuesday back to the museum, we are sure going to miss them! We also had a girl show up this week who is trying to get a scholarship from the National Geographic Society and yesterday I did two dives with her as she video-taped the sub in action, will fill you more in on her as the week progresses. So as you can see it’s still go-go-go around Substation, it will be busy all this week and next still!! If any of you have any questions for these Smithsonian guys and gals please let me know and I can ask them, send questtios to, email@example.com.
Well, I need to take water and seed out to the desert to our feeding stations before work and walk the dogs so I gotta go!
Have a wonderful day, Barry
Jul 30, 13 Comments Off on Coral Reef Scene/Photo, Caribbean Coral Reef
Hello from a little place called Curacao. I have a beautiful reef scene for you all today that was shot a few years ago right here on our Sea Aquarium house reef before our good friend tropical storm OMAR came to visit. I will have to go back and try to find this same spot and take a more recent photo for you but I don’t think it has changed too much being that this was taken at 60 feet. I do remember after OMAR passed, I went diving the next day and the reef looked horrible especially in the 0-30 foot range with the fire and finger corals taking the biggest hit! I had a camera with me on that dive but the visibility was so bad because of all the sand and runoff into the ocean after the storm that I was unable to take many shots and if I remember correctly it took weeks before the water cleared up. Now years later and after many different storms the shallow reefs around the Caribbean are pretty much gone which leaves very little for snorkelers to see in the way of corals or soft corals. I’ve had so many visitors ask me, “well, won’t they grow back fairly quickly”?? Unfortunately, NO is always my answer. Unlike fire that can actually help with new growth in a forest, corals will take forever to grow back!!
I had a nice bike ride with some old friends out at Saint Joris last night and ended up not getting home till late. This morning we have a sub dive at 11:15 and you may be able to see it at www.seasubmarine.com This is our live web cam that lives at around 50 feet and is protected by a mean damselfish and now home to a trumpetfish, tune in and you may see them or me.
Gotta go, be back soon, Barry
Mar 21, 13 Comments Off on Banded Butterflyfish, Chaetodon striatus, Reef Scene
Good morning friends, I have a simple little “life on the Curacao reef” photo for you all today with a single Banded Butterflyfish, Chaetodon striatus hanging out in a little oral overhang. The main reason I took this photo is you never see one of these butterflyfish alone, they always are in pairs and this one here just seemed so lonely. This is a small section of the Sea Aquarium house reef or it’s old name, Shipwreck Point and it’s an area I dive almost every week. A few days ago I sent you a photo of a giant sea-fan at night with Aimee checking it out, well that sea fan is right behind this coral head at the top of the reef, look close and you can kind of see it.
It’s been very busy at the Substation this week with our new group of scientists from Australia who are concentrating their efforts on deep water corals. I just came up from 150 feet helping them return live corals that they collected yesterday with the sub. The goal is to see just how fast these corals can grow and then return in a year or so to check the progress, should be interesting.
Sorry so short, I have so much to do today plus get ready for a bike ride later this afternoon.
Be back soon, Barry
Nov 16, 12 Comments Off on Curacao Coral Reef, Diving the Reef at Superior Producer
Hi friends, it’s Friday, boy did that week disappear fast!! I was at work at 7:00 this morning and at 145 feet by 7:15, talk about a great way to start the day!! I found a great new spot filled with beautiful clusters of sponges the only problem is, it’s very deep!! What I am kind of trying to do is figure out just what I need to photograph down there and day by day just start shooting one sponge at a time as I have so little time at that depth.
Many have asked me about the reef around the Superior Producer and I took this photo on my last trip to answer that question. There is really no reef around the Producer itself, it sits in the sand by itself surrounded by scattered sponge bowls and little rocky outcrops. The reef on the North side of the ship is a full blown coral reef starting at 15 feet down to 100, it’s such a great spot to explore!! This is Mark again from the World famous Dive Bus Hut hovering at around 30 feet above a lush field of assorted corals, this is just an example of what can be found at the entry/exit area to the Superior Producer.
After work last night I met Dorain and his father for a very quick ride on our favorite trails. Aimee had told me before I left the house that she was going to be out there as well with the dogs meaning I need to stay away because if the dogs see or hear me they will chase me to the ends of the Earth. Well, stupid me I forgot about this and came flying down a trail with the boys and then heard a voice yelling way off in the distance for Inca and Indi!!! Yep they had either seen me or heard me and were in hot pursuit! I had to end the ride with Dorian and now go make sure the dogs were not lost, I must admit I was a bit panicked. All turned out fine, I found Aimee and the girls heading back to the car with Aimee asking me; “do you ever listen to me”?? Yes dear, sorry dear was my answer.
I am off to the sea again, we are taking the sub out and under in about 15 minutes, I think you can still go to www.seesubmarine.com to watch.
Have a great day, Barry
Oct 30, 10 Comments Off on Coral Reef Scene, Coral Reef Photos, Colorful Reefs
Good morning from Curacao. As some of you know we have Hurricane Tomas heading our way and should be in the area around Sunday. From the charts I have seen the eye is hundreds of miles away but I am sure we will see big waves and rain just the same. Most Hurricanes start down here in these warm waters and then head all the way up to the States generating speed and power the whole way up. I did take my normal precautionary storm warming steps by going to the store and buying bottled water and dried foods yesterday just in case, better to be safe than sorry.
Yesterday I did four dives and went to bed sooooo tired! I did 3 very short sub dives all lasting about 10 minutes each and one dive to the Superior Producer. I met some Americans staying at Royal Resorts and they wanted to go dive the Superior but had no idea how to find it. So since I had a few hours to kill in between sub dives we loaded up their rental van and took off to the Mega Pier. There was a big cruise ship parked at the Mega Pier but no one seemed to care about us doing a dive underneath it so off we went! The trip was fast and great! We took a few shots on deck and explored the ship but minutes later we had to leave, our time was up. On the way back we saw a baby Green Turtle laying in the corals but when I approached for a shot he took off. I think we set some kind of Superior Dive record yesterday for getting in and out and being back in a little over an hour!
Yesterday I signed up for a dive to Beqa (pronounced Benga) Lagoon Resort in Fiji, for 2012! There are still spots available for anyone wanting to dive with me and maybe learn a little photography or who just want to dive with a great group of folks from my home town in Rapid City, SD, check out the attachment to register and learn more.
Below is yet another beautiful Coral Reef Setting with a Large Cupped Boulder Star coral on the bottom and a beautiful Gorgonian on the top, I just love this stuff!
Time to walk the dogs, see you, Barry
Apr 23, 10 Comments Off on Reef Trash, Reef Clean-Up Day, Tires and Tubes
Good evening all, someone asked me today if we ever see trash on the reefs here?? The answer to that is yes!! The worst place we have seen is under and around the piers, those areas are as trashed as it gets! Almost everywhere has tires and we call those “Tire Coral” and as you see here a big truck inner tube and these we call “Tube Sponges”. Tires and tubes, bottles, cans and the worst thing, fishing line is one of those constant reminders that man has pretty much trashed this planet. And the real down side to all this junk is that it will never break down so year after year we see the same o’l stuff laying around at many dive sites. The good news is that the folks from the World famous Dive Bus Hut along with other local dive shops have an annual reef/beach clean-up day once or twice a year and this Sunday is one of those days. Mark said this year his focus was to try and remove or cut as much fishing line as they could as it is wrapped around so many sponges and so many corals! The reef at Pier Baai used to be covered in tires and bottles but now one really has to search to find new trash, that’s what a team of reef cleaning volunteers can do. Also some of this stuff has been down there so long that it now has creatures using it as homes or as you see here little corals and sponges growing onto the side of it so you can never remove it. You would do more damage than good removing this tube so it’s best just to leave it there and hopefully divers will just learn from it.
Today was a really hot and very humid!! The puppies continue to adjust to their new home and we are again really enjoying them even if they are peeing machines. Off to bed, Barry
Mar 2, 10 Comments Off on Diving in Bonaire, O’l Blue, Yellow Tube Sponges
Good evening readers I am back!!! What a GREAT trip to say the least, the folks in Bonaire ROCK!! Our friends Sal and Patty who spend 3 months a year in Bonaire met me at the airport and delivered me to the folks at Wannadive where I then stayed for the next 6 days. Sal and Patty picked me up from the Wannadive Hotel every morning and off we went to some new fun dive spot in search of new creatures and coral reef scenes. I was also lucky enough to have friends from Rapid City diving here at this time as well. Their names are Scott and Tammi and they are the owners of Black Hills Scuba, please stop in and say hi to them for me they are such great people! Everyone I met or ran into was so nice and everyone went out of their way to make me feel at home, so to all of you, thanks for everything!!! So the first morning Sal, Patty and I met Scott and Tammi at the Wannadive shop at Eden Beach and off we went up the coast for our first dive together. The dive spot was called O’l Blue and within minutes of arriving we spotted a giant pod of Offshore Bottlenose Dolphins swimming right out over the dive spot headed towards Bonaire at a very slow pace. Upon seeing this we all quickly got our gear on and raced to the water but by the time we all got out and under they had already passed. Even though we didn’t see dolphins it was a really beautiful dive. This is Sal floating over a beautiful cluster of tube sponges which this spot had plenty of, I kind of just raced from one to the next like a man on a mission. Bonaire has such beautiful diving! Almost every spot we went to we saw big fish and lots of them, something Curacao has very little of as our reef’s are fished hard! I think it’s safe to say we all had a wonderful dive here, Scott shot video and Tammi did a little posing for me over a few gorgonians, what else could a man ask for?
Well more tomorrow, it’s late and I am beat! Again thank you all, Barry
Oct 10, 09 Comments Off on Wide Angle Reef Scene in Curacao
Hello friends, we just got home the airport and our guest arrived in perfect shape!! Her name is Eva, she is from the Denver Colorado area and she loves to dive, lucky me!! Aimee just made a great dinner even though it’s almost 11:00 here but we all had to eat! All of us are very tired, so this will be very short.
I found this photo in my folder from the last dive I did out in front of the Sea Aquarium a few weeks ago. I remember turning off the flashes because I just wanted you all to see how many fish we have swimming around on any given day, it’s really amazing! You can see the tall pillar corals in the distance and a few in the middle, those are my personal favorites. Without man-made light down here it’s all green and blue, the color red is only visible with a light or with the flashes I use, so why are fish so colorful?? I often wonder do fish see in color? They must otherwise it would all look like this to them and there would be no need to be so colorful, just a thought looking for an answer??
Off to bed, I am beat!! Have a great weekend, Barry
Aug 17, 09 Comments Off on Sunken Propeller at Sea Aquarium
Good evening friends, we had such a busy day today!! My friends from the States have asked about the economy here and as far as I can tell we seem to be fairly unaffected by it. I have heard that a few resorts around the island were struggling and that some of the new big resorts that are being built have slowed construction but other than that all seems well and busy! We were again as full today as we could be and even had programs today at 4:00, I have only seen that a few times.
Here’s a shot from out on our reef here at the Aquarium. This is a giant propeller that is now resting on the ocean floor at around 30 feet and is home to countless creatures! We have two seahorses that are still living here around this big prop and I heard today someone found a mantis shrimp somewhere here today as well. This morning there was supposed to be a dolphin dive around the area of this prop but super strong current put an end to that!! I was at the aquarium this morning taking photos of a dolphin swim when I watched as a dive boat pulled up outside on our reef and unloaded divers into the current. The divers were supposed to swim to the area of this propeller and meet George and our dolphin Annie but the second they jumped in, before they could even go under they were being taken away by the current, it’s nasty stuff folks! Most of the divers that come here for a vacation have never been in current and it catches them completely off guard and many of them panic! Tomorrow I will be back at Pen Resort all day photographing the reef again, if anyone wants to help or join please give me a call (661-5795) I always need extra help!
That’s about it, Aimee just got home, it’s 8:30 she was helping do something with the whale again while I took the dogs on a nice long walk! See ya, Barry
May 6, 09 Comments Off on Curacao Diver Photographing a Stove Pipe Sponge
Good evening from a very small island in the Caribbean! This is Aimee taking a picture of those beautiful purple stove pipe sponges and me getting my picture taken as well! To say it was strange being on the other end of the camera for once was an understatement and left me feeling a bit uncomfortable! Many of you have asked or noticed that my diving has slowed down a lot! The reason for that is my dumb eye! I have an appointment to see the doctor at the end of this month and hopefully by the beginning of June it will be fixed. Tomorrow Aimee and I are planning a dive somewhere, still not sure where yet maybe to the Superior?
Aimee was off today, she took Inca to the doctor first thing because she was acting strange but we think all is well the doctor couldn’t find anything really wrong. I had yet another very busy day at work and was going to go riding when I got home but just plain couldn’t get myself to go! Sorry so short, my head is blank tonight, talk to you tomorrow, see you, Barry
Apr 11, 09 Comments Off on Curacao Reef Scene
Good evening all, I had a request for a picture of the reef out in front of the Sea Aquarium so here you go. This is just a tiny section of our own personal play ground, not bad huh? This photo shows how the reef around Curacao just drops off down to thousands of feet. There are many spots around the island that instead of this gradual slope downwards it’s just a solid rock wall leading it’s visitors straight down into the darkness.
Tomorrow I am heading back to the tide pool on the north coast with my underwater camera at noon, anyone want to join?? I will most likely be there for two to three hours then head out for a bike ride after.
I hope you all have a wonderful Easter morning and are enjoying your well deserved weekend. Till tomorrow, Barry