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.

General

Archive for the ‘Crabs + Shrimp + Lobsters’

May 11, 17     Comments Off on Red-Spotted Hermit Crab, Deep-Sea Crabs, New Finds

Hi all, today I have a beautiful three inch, red-spotted hermit crab for your viewing pleasure compliments of the world famous Smithsonian Institution and Substation Curacao. My long time followers already know the love I have for crabs and invertebrates but hermit crabs in general hold a special place in my little heart. I love the eyes more than anything and the way they carry their homes around exploring the sea-bottoms on a daily basis, it’s most likely where the name “mobile home” came from… Over the years I have photographed a wide variety of hermits with the most famous being the little tusk shell hermits that have just blown everyone away who has seen them, use my search box to check those out. On this trip to St. Eustatius we didn’t have our invertebrate scientists onboard they were more interested in the fish and sponges then anything else but with that said I did get to shoot some amazing crabs which you will be seeing here and on Twitter. If your searching for me on Twitter type in @SquidLover3 then sign up and follow, it’s as easy as that.

Lots to do as usual, have a great day.

Barry

May 20, 16     Comments Off on Giant Underwater Hermit Crab, Curacao Crabs

Giant Crab-2-blog

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!!

Cheers,

Barry

Feb 1, 16     Comments Off on Yellowline Arrow Crab, Stenorhynchus seticornis

Yellowline arrow crab. Stenorhynchus seticomis. Triangular head, long legs and violet tipped claws make this crab easy to identify. Curacao, Netherlands Antilles. Unaltered/Uncontrolled. Digital Photo (horizontal). Model Release: Not Applicable.

Good evening all, what a crazy busy day!! So starting today I have an intern of sorts for just four days. They call it “work week” here in Curacao for the high school kids wanting to get a taste of one of the thousands of jobs to see if it’s something they would like to do more down the road. I have a 15 year old boy named Jur who is a diver and is learning what it takes to be an underwater photographer. On our 1st dive he got stung by a jellyfish (cured with warm water) and on the 2nd dive he struggled to dive and carry the giant camera, he found out right away it’s not as easy as it looks. I still have him for three more days so if you don’t hear from me you know why, we are just plain busy. 

I have a wonderful little Yellowline Arrow Crab for you all today sitting on top of a sponge without a care in the World. These crabs are know for those beautiful purple claws, big eye’s and his super cool top-hat, such a fantastic creature…. 

The body of S. seticornis is triangular, and the rostrum is drawn out into a long point with serrate edges. The legs are also long and thin, up to 10 cm (3.9 in) across, and the animal’s carapace may be up to 6 cm (2.4 in) long. Coloration is variable in this species; the body may be golden, yellow or cream, marked with brown, black or iridescent-blue lines; the legs are reddish or yellow, and the claws are blue or violet.

S. seticornis is nocturnal and territorial. It eats small feather duster worms and other coral reef invertebrates. This crab is commonly kept in reef aquariums to control bristle worm populations.

S. seticornis is one of a number of different invertebrates that are found living in association with the sea anemone, Lebrunia danae. It is often found among the anemone’s pseudotentacles along with Pederson’s cleaning shrimp (Ancylomenes pedersoni) and the spotted cleaner shrimp (Periclimenes yucatanicus).

I had a busy weekend of mountain biking and hauling water out to the desert to water our baby agave plants, I so wish it would rain!!

Talk soon, 

Barry

Jan 27, 16     Comments Off on Three Colorful Red Shrimps, Cinetorhynchus manningi

Four red shrimp at night. Cinetorhynchus manningi. Four shrimp; smallest one is translucent and on rock at tail of middle shrimp. Curacao, Netherlands Antilles. Unaltered/Uncontrolled Digital Photo (horizontal) N/A

Here are three beautiful Red Night Shrimp, Cinetorhynchus manningi that Aimee and I found together on our last night dive hanging out in the shallows on a big rock. They usually have red bodies and may have white to tan bands and spots with dark green eyes. These shrimps are very common in Curacao. They inhabit coral reefs or shallow rocky areas and are considered nocturnal. They hide deep in the reefs by day and appear in large numbers at night. When you shine your light on them their eyes turn to a glowing shade of red, it’s really beautiful! These shrimps like others are very shy and will retreat into the darkness if approached, so getting photos can be very difficult at times! Previously reported as Rhynchocinetes ringens, which has been reclassified in the genus Cinetorynchus. The species C. ringens only inhabits the Eastern Atlantic.

Lots to do, have a great day out there…

Barry

Jan 21, 16     Comments Off on Spotted Spiny Lobsters, Panulirus guttatus

Two spotted spiny lobsters. Panulirus guttatus. Curacao, Netherlands Antilles. Unaltered/Uncontrolled. Digital Photo (vertical). Model Release: Not Applicable.

Hello friends, it’s almost friday!! I wish I could say I had a fun weekend on tap but with this stupid cough it’s likely I will be stuck at home again. Aimee and I did carry a bunch of new Ikelite gear up the coast this morning followed by three dogs and finally got a few promotional shots for them that they can use for advertising. One of the cool new items is a completely new designed housing for my D-800 with white sides and new domes, they are promoting it as a shallow type of housing for taking photos in pools, waves, snorkeling and free diving, it’s only rated to 40 feet.

So I have two Spotted Spiny Lobsters, Panulirus guttatus for you all today that were found late at night crawling around searching for dinner. Lobsters are pretty shy and most of the time our lights scare them back into their caves but occasionally a few will hang out long enough for me to quickly take a photo like you see here. 

Panulirus guttatus has a pair of compound eyes on flexible stalks, long thick spiny antennae, six pairs of small appendages around the mouth and five pairs of walking legs which are not tipped by large claws. The antennular plate bears two large, widely separated spines. The maximum length of this spiny lobster is about 20 cm (8 in) but a more normal length is 15 cm (6 in). The body color is purplish-black, heavily marked with conspicuous round white spots. The main leg segments are dark and spotted with white, but the penultimate leg segments have dark, longitudinal stripes on a pale background.

Panulirus guttatus breeds throughout the year. After mating, the female carries the eggs on her abdomen held under her tail. When ready to release the eggs, she migrates to the reef crest and their release is usually followed by moulting. The larvae have a very long developmental period and are planktonic at first, before becoming “pueruli” larvae, a transitional phase between planktonic larvae and benthic juveniles. They settle on the outermost shallow reef edges where there is vigorous water movement.

Have a wonderful day…

Barry

Dec 1, 15     Comments Off on Spotted Cleaner Shrimp, Periclimenes yucatanicus

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Good morning friends, yours truly is slowly recovering from a 4-hour root canal that I had done yesterday, talk about fun!!

I have a Photoshopped “hide and seek” type of photo for you all today of a beautiful little one inch long Spotted Cleaner Shrimp, Periclimenes yucatanicus hiding in a big Giant Anemone. These little shrimps are a favorite subject for underwater photographers as they are easy to find, easy to shoot and are dressed in wild colors, what more could you want in a subject? I personally love the design on their back that resembles a Hawaiian mask, can you see it?? 

I have to get ready for a sub dive, my colleague Tico will be diving for me today doing the photos while I wait at the surface, will be a few days before I can get back into the wet stuff.

Sorry so short, have a great day, 

Barry

Nov 13, 15     Comments Off on Deep Sea Giant Hermit Crab, Dardanus insignis

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Hey gang, here’s one of the largest deep-sea hermit crabs (about the size of a grapefruit) I have seen to date, named Dardanus insignis, the “southern form”. The crab was living in a very light-weight fragile shell that had a big hole in the top that you can see just over his eyes. Also if your wondering what that thing is on his shell that looks like a sideways volcano, it’s a live anemone! Yeah how cool is that I ask?? If disturbed the anemone would close and just look like a big fleshy lump on his shell but seemed to open back up pretty quickly. Besides the anemone he also had live tunicates stuck to his shell and heaven only knows what else, truly one of the coolest of crabs I have seen! This was found at 714 feet by no other than Darryl L. Felder, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Biology at the University of Louisiana. Darryl was part of the Smithsonian crew we had aboard the Chapman this year on our trip to Playa Forti which is located near the western point of Curacao. 

Taking the day off to get some things done at home, see you all next week…

Have a wonderful weekend.

Barry

Nov 6, 15     Comments Off on Dark Mantis Shrimp, Neogonodactylus curacaoensis

Shrimp

Good afternoon all, we had a busy day here at Substation for once with two submersible runs with paying guests. I was in the water at 9:00 and 11:00 taking photos under the sea thus no time to get on the computer…

I think this is a Dark Mantis Shrimp, Neogonodactylus curacaoensis but like so many times before I could be wrong… I’m pretty sure it’s a mantis shrimp of some kind and a very colorful one at that. I found this guy at around 40 feet out in front of the Substation entrance living deep inside a little hole in the rock. The opening you see here to his little cave was only about two inches wide and as you can see he is half that size. These little shrimps are very wary of divers and will usually not show much of their colorful bodies leaving yours truly with a whole lot of different face shots throughout the years.

I hope you all have a great weekend, I’m meeting Stijn tomorrow morning, he’s going to help me plant the rest of the baby yucca plants out in the desert.

Barry

Nov 4, 15     Comments Off on Crab Molts, Tidal Spray Crab Skeleton Molt

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Good morning friends, sorry about all the problems with the blog lately but it is really out of my hands. Recently we switched from one server to another and in doing so it’s created all kinds of new problems that we are still trying to fix.

Here’s something cool from my trip to Klein Curacao last friday. These are NOT live crabs, they are molts or skeletons that got left behind during the night. We found these Tidal Spray Crab molts (Plagusia depressa) around the shoreline and each was so different and colorful that I figured why not post a bunch of them for you to see. These crabs carefully pick a rock with a rough surface and hook their claws into it and pull their new body out of the old shell exiting from the rear, it is so cool!!! If you try to pick one of these molts up it would just crumble and fall apart, they are very thin and fragile.  

Creatures with exoskeletons must molt, or crawl out of their own skeleton, to grow and develop certain features as they develop. Other creatures molt, or shed, skin, hair or feathers as part of a cycle. The molted skeletons, skins, and other bits these creatures leave behind provide a great opportunity to learn more about them and they way their bodies work. From crustaceans at the beach to arachnids in the backyard, molts can be found all around.

-Many different creatures molt, a term used to describe shedding of the skin, hair, feathers, or an entire exoskeleton.

– Creatures such as crabs, dragonflies, and spiders shed their entire exoskeleton, an action called ecdysis.

– As part of the process of ecdysis, secretions help to separate the exoskeleton from the creature itself while a new layer is formed.

– The creature, after a period of inactivity, extracts itself from the old exoskeleton. They are soft and vulnerable for a period of time while their new exoskeleton hardens.

– While widely seen as a mechanism for growth, molting also helps creatures develop new advanced features, such as eyes, as well.

– The number of molts between birth and full adulthood can vary anywhere between 3 – 15 (or more depending on the creature!).

– In insects the stages between molts are known either as instars (as with caterpillars) or nymphs (as with dragonflies).

– Birds molt to replace old feathers. They do this one to three times a year, usually after breeding season is over.

Have a great day all…

Barry

Oct 19, 15     Comments Off on Hermit Crabs from Playa Jeremi, Underwater Hermit

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Good morning friends, I had a fairly quiet weekend at home keeping my eye on our dog Indi who has a terrible skin rash of some kind. I did take her to the vet and I am giving her pills and creams but after 3 days I still do not see much difference. The main thing I am doing at home is just keeping her quiet and in the air all day, the heat really seems to make it worse. I did get in a 3 hour bike ride yesterday morning with my next door neighbor, we took off over to the north coast and by the time we got back it was getting crazy hot, I spent the rest of the day out of the sun..

Here’s my two hermit crabs I found on my night-dive at Playa Jeremi, the top one is more of an adult and the bottom was much younger as you can see from the coloration. One would never even know there was a beautiful hermit crab inside these algae and sand covered shells if they hadn’t moved, talk about a perfect disguise! I only have the old issue of Reef Creatures and this crab is not in there, (it’s not a Stareye Hermit as I zoomed in on the eyes) I have seen him in the newer issue and will go find a copy to update this later for you. For a size reference, the crab at the top was in a shell about the size of a golfball and the other about half that size, this is why I love my 105 macro lens so much!!

Well, tons to do, need to go check on Indi…

Have a great day.

Barry

Apr 29, 15     Comments Off on Orange ghost shrimp-Corallianassa longiventris

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Good morning friends, I had a few people asking about my pet Ghost Shrimp so just for you I went out and shot some new photos. This little thing is dripping with personality and expression, I really enjoy spending time with him on the sand. I always bring him a fresh handful of algae and dangle it over his little hole. Upon seeing the algae he will race to the surface and take them out of my hand, he is really not very shy! I will sometimes lay a pile of food next the hole and he will grab it and somehow drag it all down inside his home?? If you saw how much food he is taking down you would think he lives in a giant cave or something, I would love to see the burrow this guy has built! The hole he is in is about an inch and a half wide and if I shine my light down the hole I can’t see the bottom?? I have never seen his whole body, just what you see here, he mainly just waits all day for little pieces of food to pass by and will come up and grab each one as they pass by, he is super cool and so colorful! I have noticed that every few days once his borrow is full of food (I guess?) he puts the rock over the hole and will retire down below for days.

I had a very exhausting 20 mile bike ride last night in the highest winds I have ever been in, not to mention crazy heat and humidity! I was joined by a few top riders from the local Bellisima bike club and other than some of the technical areas they had a wonderful time.

We have a sub dive at 11:00, I have to get moving…

See you soon, Barry

Apr 7, 15     Comments Off on Spotted Spiny Lobster Video, Ikelite Vega’s

Good morning friends, how was your Easter holiday??? The Caribbean Easter Bunny found our little house and dropped off some yummy Belgian chocolates and a new cycling jersey, talk about being surprised! We had 4 days off so as you can imagine I have been very busy with my normal tasks of taking photos, cleaning mountain bike trails, walking the dogs, collecting drift-wood, long bike rides and of course diving, I need a another day off just to recover from all the fun!

I get countless requests for lobster photos so I took those requests one step further and jumped in to the sea late at night friday and shot a fun video clip for you all of a Spotted Spiny Lobster, Panulirus guttatus. Normally any lobster I find on any given night dive is VERY SHY and will immediately backup into their caves and disappear from sight as they are not big fans of light, but not this one! Lobsters are so cool and so much fun to watch, it’s no wonder they are at the top of fun creatures to find out on the reef at night. During the day these animals are hidden deep under the reef in caves and crevices and only come out at night to feed. I used a Go pro 3 attached to the new Ikelite Tray with one Ikelite VEGA video light (on low power) with a diffuser for this clip, it’s honestly the easiest, “even a caveman can do it” kind of videography!

Unlike the true, or clawed, lobsters, spiny lobsters have long, thick, spiny antennae and lack large pinching claws. The Spotted Spiny Lobster (Panulirus guttatus) occurs from Bermuda to Suriname, with populations in southeastern Florida, in the Bahamas, and throughout the Caribbean Sea. Unlike the Caribbean Spiny Lobster (Panulirus argus), which has a largely overlapping distribution, P. guttatus is of limited commercial interest throughout most of its range. On some islands, however, it contributes significantly to satisfying the demand for luxury seafood.

Panulirus guttatus is an obligate reef-dweller, rarely leaving the confines of the reef, and found especially on the fore reef. Several early studies of P. guttatus in Florida investigated the sex ratio, size distribution, and reproductive seasonality of a population living at man-made jetties near Miami Beach. Based on data from their study in the Florida Keys, Sharp et al. (1997) concluded that an individual P. guttatus spends its entire benthic life on a small portion of the fore reef, perhaps even on a single spur. Panulirus guttatus adults forage on the reef at night. They spend the day in dens that extend deep into the reef. There is some indication that males may guard den entrances to protect harems of females from other males. This behaviour has been observed in P. argus both in the laboratory and in the field. The sheltering requirements of P. guttatus appear to be much more specific than those of P. argus. This restriction of acceptable shelter characteristics for P. guttatus may be the primary factor controlling the abundance of this obligate reef-dweller.

I have a very busy day on tap, lots to do!!

Enjoy the clip…

Barry

Mar 20, 15     Comments Off on Two Banded Coral Shrimps in a Vase Sponge

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Good afternoon from Curacao! I’m busy in the deep-water lab today cleaning out my old photo aquariums and running around town buying some new ones. The aquariums themselves are in good working order and can be used for other things I just can’t use them to do photos in any more because of fine scratches on the front. When you combine a 105 macro lens with a Nikon D-800 and shoot at F-40 through the glass you pick up every little detail including fine scratches that look like they are on the fish but they are from the glass. That’s why it’s just easier to replace them regularly so you don’t have to spend hours working in Photoshop removing unwanted lines. 

My two Banded Coral Shrimps, Stenopus hispidus are still hanging out in the same vase sponge for months now, I stop and say hi to them every time I swim by. They are getting so used to seeing me that they now race up from the bottom of their sponge and greet me at the top, they are so cool and very colorful! 

 Stenopus hispidus is a shrimp-like decapod crustacean belonging to the infraorder Stenopodidea. Common names include banded coral shrimp and banded cleaner shrimp

Stenopus hispidus has a pan-tropical distribution, extending into some temperate areas. It is found in the western Atlantic Ocean from Canada to Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico. In Australia, it is found as far south as Sydney and it also occurs around New Zealand

Stenopus hispidus reaches a total length of 60 millimetres (2.4 in), and has striking coloration. The ground colour is transparent, but the carapace, abdomen and the large third pereiopod are all banded red and white. The antennae and other pereiopods are white. The abdomen, carapace and third pereiopods are covered in spines.

Stenopus hispidus lives below the intertidal zone, at depth of up to 210 meters (690 ft), on coral reefs. It is a cleaner shrimp, and advertises to passing fish by slowly waving its long, white antennae. S. hispidus uses its three pairs of claws to remove parasites, fungi and damaged tissue from the fish. Stenopus hispidus is monogamous.

I have another busy weekend on tap with trail cleaning, dog walks, turtle photo shoots, build another turtle cave, long bike ride, go diving and on and on….

See you monday!

Barry

Feb 20, 15     Comments Off on Channel Clinging Crab, Mithrax spinosissimus

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Good morning friends, wiped out this morning after a long evening of mountain biking in crazy heat and horrible wind, it’s like I tell visiting friends, “it’s not the trails that will kill you, it’s the weather”! I recently put together a new 20 mile loop consisting of all the trails I have built over the years. It has some really technical sections, fast downhills and rolling single-track and for sure is not for everyone.. but I love it!

Aimee called me yesterday from home saying that two big iguana’s had walked into our house and were fighting in our entry-way at the bottom of our steps, I asked, “did you get it on video or at least a photo” NO was the answer! But how cool is that?

I have a monster sized Channel Clinging Crab for you all today that we found out on the reef hunting for food late at night! Look at the size of those claws?? For the most part one can observe these guys up close and personal if your careful with your lights and remain still, we really love finding them and watching them climb all over the reef!

Most of you divers know this species by the common name Channel Clinging Crab, but it turns out that it has several other common names, including Reef Spider Crab, and Spiny Spider Crab, among others. The crab’s scientific name is Mithrax spinosissimus, and that designation stays the same, independent of the common name, which varies from place to place. This crab is a true crab’ (as opposed to, say, a hermit crab), and belongs to the Majidae family.

Majidae tend to have long slender legs just like this example above which is why the common names of many species in this family include the word spider’. Majids also tend to have little hairs or bristle-like structures on their carapaces. Bits of material like algae, sponge, and so on attach to those hairs and act as part of the crab’s camouflage.

Note that the walking legs of this species also are rather hairy, and are covered with stuff’ while the business end of the crab those impressive claws, are smooth.

Like so many reef creatures, this species forages mainly at night. During the day, they hunker in the reefs, under ledges, and in cavelets. Because of their size, they can’t wiggle into small cervices like so many smaller species can do. Still, they can be difficult to spot during the day, since their decorated carapaces blend so well with their surroundings.

These crabs inhabit a range from the sub-tropical western Atlantic to the Caribbean. They can be found in reef areas along the coasts of southern Florida, through the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands, and throughout much of the Caribbean.

We have another submersible dive at 11:00 so I need to get ready to dive.

Tomorrow I’m headed out to hopefully find a new home for our four land tortoises, will keep you posted.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Barry

Feb 18, 15     Comments Off on Batwing Coral Crab, Carpilius corallinus, Crabs

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Hi gang, how is winter treating you?? Here in Curacao winter means eighty degree plus days, lots of wind and very little moisture, in fact we hardly even had a rainy season and the island is already bone dry!! 

Our friends from the Smithsonian have left and they will be missed! Believe it or not I only photographed one fish for them this trip as they did more research than collecting. 

Here is a beautiful Batwing Coral crab,  Carpilius corallinus for your viewing pleasure today. These crabs are so beautiful with their brilliant array of colors and that unmistakable bat outline on top of their shell. These crabs are classified as True Crabs with their smooth carapace in shades of orange, red or brown with white and yellow spots and markings. The legs are red with purple shading and the top of the shell has the outline of a bat with it’s wings open, thus the name. Although now that I said that, I have also heard these called, Coral Crabs, Red Coral Crabs and the Queen Crab. In all the years I have been here I have never seen a baby one of these, only the full grown adults which are around 4-6 inches wide measured by the width of just the carapace. I also normally never see these creatures any deeper than 50 feet and quite often I have seen them in just a meter of water getting in or out from a dive hiding under rocks. Crabs as you may or may not know have greatly reduced abdomens and tails, which are kept curled under their large, rounded, and often flattened carapace. Their first pair of legs have developed claws that are used for protection and for the manipulation of objects. If disturbed, these claws are raised toward the danger in a threatening manor. Using the remaining four pairs of legs, crabs can move rapidly in a sideways direction. Many species are quite small and secretive, and therefore very difficult to find.

I’m headed out diving with a friend from Sweden in a little bit so I need to get ready, have a great day!!

Later all….

Barry

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