Avid outdoorsman and underwater photographer, Barry Brown has spent the last ten 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 ‘Bony Fish’
Dec 29, 14 Comments Off
Good morning friends, just two days away from 2015, can you believe it?? How was Christmas out there?? Did Santa bring you all something wonderful?? My Santa was awesome!!! I scored a super cool, handmade “mountain bike tire belt” which I can hardly wait to wear, a fun shirt with two dinosaurs playing the game of Twister, two fun and very colorful animal carvings from Oaxaca Mexico (we collect them) and a giant canvas with three of our photos from Peru printed on it. After shredding presents and eating like Kings I took off to meet Mark and Suzi from the World famous Dive Bus Hut for their annual Christmas dive. Aimee was not feeling well enough to join so she stayed home and chilled with the dogs. We did our dive on the west side of the Aquaelectra plant and once in the water swam to the east and back. While the others hunted lionfish I swam from one brain coral to another (which were all different colors and sizes) in search of interesting designs and shooting them with the macro lens. While focused on an interesting brain coral design this very curious Whitespotted Filefish swam right up to me as if to say “what’s ya doing”?? Wow, you want to talk about a curious fish that has zero fear, well your looking at him! I actually had a hard time getting him to leave me alone, not sure if he saw his reflection in the lens or if he had just never seen a diver before but it was a pretty cool encounter! All in all I think I did around 6-7 dives these past four days mainly working on our brain coral project which you guys will see more in the coming days.
Still not feeling well and haven’t been able to ride much, not a very fun December.
Hope all is well out there!!
Dec 23, 14 Comments Off
Good morning friends, we are waking up to light rain and overcast skies today which is normal for this time of year. Many of you Curacao natives know we are way behind on the amount of moisture needed to carry this island through another year, so any rain is good rain!
I did two cold dives yesterday in search of more brain corals but I really didn’t find very much. Aimee and I have been working on a brain coral project for over a year and we still have a bunch of searching to do. We are planning on diving on Christmas day during the afternoon at Pier Baai after taking the dogs on a fun outing somewhere along the coast, so if your wanting to join give me a ring.
I did come across this very calm and very colorful Bluestriped Grunt on my dive yesterday and couldn’t resist the urge to stop and take his photo. These fish are so mellow and have such beautiful electric blue stripes, (thus the name) and can reach 18 inches in length! Here is Curacao you normally only see these fish alone hanging out under a coral ledge or near the entrance to a small cave. The common family name is derived from the unusual “grunt” sound produced when teeth grinding deep within their throats is amplified by the air bladder. Grunts are closely related to snappers but are generally smaller (normally between 12 and 18 inches), with more deeply notched tails. They also lack the snappers sharp canine teeth.
I really can’t believe Christmas is days away?? Geez where did this month go?
Starting to really rain now, and I mean it’s coming down!!! I need to go check on my turtles!!
Dec 16, 14 Comments Off
Good morning all, I’m in recovery mode from my chikungunya but still a long ways a way from recovered! This horrible stuff cons you into thinking your felling better then knocks you back down, so much fun!
I am still chasing fish around every chance I get trying to get some new “face shots” but this has turned out to be one of the most difficult tasks ever! This parrotfish will go through three major color transformations with the above photo being his or her last and final color called the “Terminal Phase”. As a cute little juvenile they have three rows of widely spaced white spots that run the whole length of their bodies and have a mossy green head with a pinkish belly. As they get older they enter the “Initial Phase” and look nothing at all like the photo above, in fact most divers don’t even know the two fish are one and the same. In the initial phase the fish will have a beautiful red belly and tail and the rest of the fish is different colors of green looking almost camouflage, again it’s hard to believe they will go from this phase to what you see above. In their “Terminal Phase” (above) they are emerald green with salmon to yellow markings on head and fins with a crescent shaped tail.
We are having a quiet week, the Smithsonian is gone and the deep-divers have left, only a few runs later this week with the submersible.
Countdown to Christmas is on!
Dec 12, 14 Comments Off
Hello all, most of you have already guessed, I am CRAZY sick!! And not just with a cold or a flu, I have joined the other 11,500 people on Curacao with an illness called…Chikungunya, one of the hands down worst bugs (no pun intended) I have ever had! This is a mosquito transmitted illness and because this is the rainy season it’s the price some of us pay for living in paradise!
I have a super hidden very camouflaged reef scorpionfish for your viewing pleasure today that we found a few weeks ago on our house reef in front of the Substation. This is the same scorpionfish that we found about a month ago at night that was so beautiful under blue-light but if you remember I only had a macro lens at the time and was only able to photograph his eye. We have been searching like crazy for this guy again (at night) but every time we are out looking for him we never can find him. These scorpionfish rely on the ability to blend in with their environments and have the patience to not move all day. Most divers never even see these fish, that’s how well they blend in. You can swim inches over them and they will not move which is also how many folks get stung by stepping on them, they didn’t get the nickname “stonefish” for nothing.
It’s back to bed for me, if you don’t hear from me it’s because I am still down!
Hope your holidays are going better than mine!
Dec 8, 14 Comments Off
Good morning all, I hope your weekend was better than mine! First off, I came down with some kind of crazy, wacked out Curacao sickness about a week ago and it just seems to be getting worse! Not only did I miss the big extreme race this weekend that I have been training for all year, I had to spend the whole weekend in bed, not fun at all. My symptoms include a stomach that feels sick all the time, burping, back ache, headache and minor joint pain, any ideas out there? I had to come into work today to get some photos prepared for the Smithsonian group but after this note to you I am headed back home.
Last week our team found a beautiful pipefish at 560 feet and I spent friday in the lab photographing it, talk about a thing of beauty. As some of you know there is very little known about deep-sea pipefish and very little to no photos exist so again being the first to see a possible new species and photograph it is quite the honor. The pipefish was around 8 inches in length and I ended up shooting him in a sequence of 7 photos and stitching them together in Photoshop, not sure how I will be able to post a photo so long?
I have three photos for you today showing a common behavior in Surgeonfishes called Aggregations. We have three different surgeonfish here in Curacao, the Blue Tangs, the Ocean Surgeonfish (above) and Doctorfish all of which can be seen swimming in these large aggregations. The top photo shows our Ocean Surgeonfish swimming in a school, the second and third photo show them stopped picking at algae. They do this behavior non-stop all day, swim in a big school seconds later dive onto the reef and eat algae and they could care less about any divers watching and taking their photos.
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 surgeonfish 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 blue tangs and damselfishes. Occasionally, Blue Tangs will join in on the fun forming large multi-species aggregations with other surgeonfishes as seen above.
Blue tangs and ocean surgeonfish 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.
All three Surgeonfish species are active during the day, hiding in crevices on the reef at night to avoid predators.
I can hear Christmas music in the background playin on the radio, hard to believe it’s that time of year already!!??
Back to bed….
Dec 2, 14 Comments Off
Good morning friends, it’s not to often I beg for anything but my friend Jon Kramer who lives in Florida and works with wild Manatees has asked me and my loyal readers for a little help. They are tying to raise a little over $4000 and they already have half so please if you are able and have a few minutes this is a major great cause!
All you have to do is copy and paste the address below into your internet browser (above) and donate a few bucks, your not only helping a great friend of ours but also your helping animals that really need our help.
I have what looks like a “blue tang with wings” hovering above the reef for your viewing pleasure today. I was quietly parked above a beautiful colony of finger corals watching these little yellow bluehead wrasses who were waiting for any fish to stop so they could get down to the business of doing what they do best….cleaning! Then, out of the blue, no pun intended, this blue tang comes darting in at full speed, puts up his fins like you see above and came to a full and complete stop! His two fins acted just like brakes on a car! Then once parked here came our little workers to inspect the blue tang and remove any little parasites, it was like watching a pit-crew at the Indianapolis 500 changing tires, they were so fast and within seconds the blue tang took off back to the reef.
Busy week here at Substation Curacao, I need to be underwater in 30 minutes!
Have a great day!
Dec 1, 14 Comments Off
Good morning all, how was your weekend?? Can you believe it’s December 1st today?? Geez, where did November go?? Or where did this year go?? I still feel like we just got back from Peru but that was way back in April, man does time fly by when your having fun!
I have another comical sleeping parrotfish “face shot” for you all today that we took last week on a night dive. These fish just crack me up the way they lay about the reef most of the times right out in the open acting as if they are under some weird spell but this is how they sleep. Many times waking up a sleeping parrotfish ends with them being so startled that they blindly take off into the darkness in search of a better home which can be bad for the fish as they really have no idea where they are going! I have seen a startled fish swim right into corals or rocks at such high speed doing either damage to their bodies or knocking them out! We always tell divers, “don’t shine the light directly at them” keep the light to the side or diffuse it with your other hand. Think of it like this, your in bed asleep and all of a sudden there is a bright light in your eyes, “it’s panic time”!
My buddy Dorian and I pre-rode the extreme course again this weekend, it was 40 miles of mud and water, not fun at all! This coming weekend is the real Curacao Extreme and if it rains any more the course could be unrideable! We got back to the truck under three hours but we both were completely covered in mud and the poor bikes looked even worse, I guess that’s why it’s called the Extreme.
We have a busy week on tap with the Smithsonian arriving on thursday and a bunch of crazy deep-divers arriving today and tomorrow. They will be doing research on lion-fish that live deep so stayed tuned for more on this story to come.
Have a great day all!!
Nov 20, 14 Comments Off
Good afternoon all, here’s another seldom seen fish called a Rusty Goby, Priolepis hipoliti that we found with the submersible below 200 feet. This is a mega tiny fish, this one here was only three quarters of an inch long and was super hard to photograph. These little reclusive treasures are found in shades of brown to red-brown to orange, iris is red to gold with green pupils. Their most distinctive features include orange spots on dorsal, tail and anal fins and about 9-11 wide dusky body bars. Although these fish are noted as common to South Florida, Bahamas, Caribbean, Northwestern Gulf of Mexico and Bermuda they are seldom seen as they often perch upside down on ceilings of small recesses in reefs or under rocks and boulders. As an adult in it’s terminal phase it will only reach a maximum length of a whopping inch and a half, no wonder they are seldom seen!
We had a fun but freezing cold night dive last night, we were both so glad to get back! We found some cool corals and giant anemones to shoot under the blue-light but never found the orange cup corals, not even sure how that is possible unless they plain don’t fluoresce under blue-light?
Off to go biking, have a great day all…
Nov 19, 14 Comments Off
Hi friends, I’ve been in the freezing cold, deep water labs all day photographing some beautiful fish and slit-shells that just came up last week. This is an adult Snow Bass, Serranus chionaraia from 300 feet and he’s only two inches in length! Ok, he may be small but this little sea bass makes up for his size with attitude! For example, we keep all the deep fish is separate small aquariums (so they don’t fight) and in order to photograph them I need to take them out of their temporary homes (one at a time) and put them in my photo tanks, not always an easy task! The second I put my little dip net in to grab him he went crazy jumping all the way out of his aquarium and into another, he was on fire! After seeing that I called in the experts, I don’t need to harm a mega $$$ fish just to get a photo. Once in my larger photo aquarium he immediately found a place to park and to calm down, I sometimes just leave them in there for an hour or so before even shooting them. This is just one of the many mega rare and desirable sea bass that we have here in Curacao, my favorites are still the Candy Bass which we also have in the deep labs right now all on their way to the States some time next week. Like many other deep-sea fish the full range of this species has yet to be established. In the wild they inhabit deep rocky areas mixed with sand and rubble and will eat just about anything like small crustaceans, shrimps and smaller fish.
Aimee and I are doing a fun blue-light night dive tonight starting at around 7:30 so I may have something new and fun for you all tomorrow!
Sorry so short, need to get home, grab some coffee and get back to work to prepare for the nights activities.
See you soon…
Nov 17, 14 Comments Off
Good morning from the Curacao rain forests! Since you last heard from me it has basically been raining and at times very hard! This is the official start of the rainy season and the island has gone from blow away in the wind dry to soaking wet green almost overnight! The downside to all the rain is the mosquitos and our mosquitos are the size of hummingbirds! We currently have a sickness that is sweeping the island called Chikungunya which is transmitted through infected mosquito bites! There are currently 25 Caribbean nations battling this sickness and many of our friends are home sick with it, we are keeping the doors shut at home and swinging our electronic zappers non-stop!
I have a very small juvenile Spotted Trunkfish, Lactophrys bicaudalis for your viewing pleasure today that I found last friday. These boxfish are more difficult to find than the Smooth Trunkfish and they are hundred times more shy! We rarely see these little two inch juveniles, they really stay hidden and even as adults avoid divers, which is funny because their cousins the smooth trunkfish are everywhere and very curious.
So good news, we found a home for our flightless parakeet. We spent friday evening getting his giant cage downstairs (what a major task), cleaning it and then on saturday loading it in the back of a borrowed pick-up. Then at 1:00 driving him and his dwelling out to a bird sanctuary of sorts to be with others of his kind. A photo was sent to me this morning of him in his cage with two others, this is the first time since we rescued him that he has had room-mates, it’s a wonderful thing!
Biking has been difficult as of late with all the rain, my trails are pretty flooded so I am sticking to just riding on the road, not a whole lot of fun!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my Mom, will try to call her this evening and she what she did on her special day!!
Have a great day all!!
Nov 12, 14 Comments Off
Good afternoon folks. I have some baby/juvenile Striped Parrotfish, Scarus iserti for your viewing pleasure today. Like most parrotfish these little sweethearts will go through four different stages and color changes in their life starting with larval, juvenile (above), initial and a terminal phase. Juvenile Striped Parrotfish can be seen just about anywhere here on the Curacao reefs. They are usually found in groups of mixed species of the similar age and for the most part appear unconcerned. They constantly stop to scrape algae from rocks and corals giving you photographers ample time for those seemingly hard to get photos. After a few weeks these little two inch juveniles will start their 1st changes into adulthood starting with a yellow tail and the yellow disappearing on their nose and forehead. Then comes the major change with most of the browns disappearing being replaced with beautiful shades of blue, yellows, pinks, and some serious beautiful aqua highlights, parrotfish are just plain cool! In most pictures you will find on the web it looks like they have white stripes but this is because the camera flash destroys the light blue color that is supposed to be there. Shooting at a higher F-stop and a little less light one should be able to capture their real colors.
We got up early today and took off to Saint Joris bay to walk the dogs and to some beach combing and as usual we packed home a bunch of little beach treasures. Well one piece wasn’t so little, it was a six foot piece of driftwood in the shape of a long, hollowed out bowl that will look super cool on legs, we couldn’t resist! The dogs had a great time and are now in air-co heaven having puppy dreams, Inca’s foot is finally back to normal but Indi has some kind of weird skin infection that we are trying to fight, it’s always something!
We are planning on doing a fun blue-light night dive tonight so I need to get all that gear ready to go which will take quite awhile!
Stay warm out there friends……….
Nov 11, 14 Comments Off
Good morning friends, here’s a few more “fish faces” for your viewing pleasure today that I got yesterday morning right here on our own Substation house reef! Most of you know that for the past year I have really trying harder than usual to get some fun fish face photos but as it turns out these are the hardest photos I have ever tried to shoot! Why you ask?? Go ahead ask why!! Fish are not prone to look a diver or a potential predator in the face, they just want to flee! I spend most of my dives in hot pursuit and mostly taking tail shots. Occasionally a fish will stop and if curious look at the camera for a fraction of a second and if said photographer is ready and if your settings are correct you could end up with some kind of fun whimsical fish face expression. Most important, you will need patience! Ask yourself before entering the water, do you want 100 so-so photos or 10 really great ones?? I am almost ashamed to say how long I have “tailed a fish” (no pun intended) with my eye glued to the housing waiting for that perfect shot and many times I return without anything!
For you camera minded individuals, these were shot at 160/F25 using two DS-160 Ikelite strobes, Ikelite housing and a Nikon D-800. I started shooting the fish faces with much more depth of field over the past year because as you can see in the top photo, that’s a long fish! If I were to use F8 for instance on that shot only his eye would be in focus and the mouth would be out of focus or the other way around, his mouth would be sharp and the eye not, using a larger F-stop means more detail. And yes as many of you are thinking, a larger F-stop means more light, this is correct! If you shoot manual like I do then just adjust your light output on the strobes a little at a time or for the rest of you your built in TTL metering should do the trick.
So much to do….
Have a great day!!
Nov 10, 14 Comments Off
Good afternoon all, I did an early morning dive that lasted an hour and 45 minutes and I’m still trying to catch up on my monday “to do list”! I have a super cool little sea bass for you all today called a Harlequin Bass, Serranus tigrinus. These are such beautiful, curious little fish and they only get to around three and a half inches in length! The Harlequin Bass is an unusual striking yellow and black mottled mottled color on the ventral side, with black and white mottling on the dorsal half. These common sea bass inhabit low-profile reefs, coral rubble and sea grass and hunt for small crustaceans in pairs just above the bottom. This one here opened his mouth wide a few times as if to say “your boring me” or “you want some of this”?? Either way I kept shooting and finally did leave, they are very territorial fish!
So how was the weekend out there?? I’m getting reports of real live winter conditions in many parts of the World but NOT here! We are having some of the hottest most humid weeks this year and let me tell you I would love a little of the cold stuff at this point! I spent a good part of my weekend visiting all my Geocaches and collecting the containers. I have decided that after four years of constantly attending to these Geocache containers that I am done with it! I closed six of them so far, I only have three left and only one that is at the World famous Dive Bus Hut will stay active, the others are out of here! Along with the Geocaches I did some great walks with the dogs and we visited an old inlet on the North coast that was a complete mountain of driftwood! So much in fact you could only see what was on the outside and no way to dig through it without being injured! I brought home a few pieces that will go into our collection and will for sure go wherever we do. Yesterday I left the house at 3:15 in the heat of the day and took off on a long hot 30 mile mountain bike ride and was completely soaked to the bone when I got home, not a fun time of the year to visit the Caribbean! For New Years Eve this year we are leaving the fireworks behind and going camping while friends stay at our house for the night. I found a beautiful “secret garden” of sorts this weekend in a densely wooded area that is just begging for a tent, it will be a perfect place to camp!
Have a great monday….
Nov 6, 14 Comments Off
Good morning from wet Curacao!! The rains started at around 2:00 this morning and it’s still going, we have very overcast skies at the moment. Aimee took off out the desert early to feed the birds and to see if she could spot her little pigeon she released a few days ago but no “for sure” spotting.
I did a fun night dive last night starting at around 8:00 and took the macro lens as my weapon of choice. I ran across so many sleeping parrotfish last night, (more than normal) and started shooting away, a sleeping fish is an easy subject to photograph. The top two photos show how parrotfish secrete mucus (from their mouths) to form a sleeping bag or cocoon of sorts that covers their whole body and protects them from the creatures of the night, like eels for instance! I’ve noticed that the parrotfish that secrete the mucus are always in the shallows (above 20 feet) and wedge themselves deep into the rocks more than the parrotfish on the reef that just lay out in the open with no mucus sack as seen in the last photo. The third photo shows a smaller parrotfish laying flat on one side using just camouflage as a hiding technique and again feels there is no need for a mucus cocoon.
Lots of thunder outside, I guess our monsoon season has officially arrived!
Thanks for all the wonderful compliments in the past weeks, you all are wonderful!
See you soon…
Nov 5, 14 Comments Off
Good morning all, remember a week ago when I posted the story about the giant porcupinefish we saved on the beach?? Here is the link to that story if you didn’t get to read it…
Well this looks just like the one we saved and is about the same size except this one is our buddy who lives out on our reef in front of the Substation and we see him just about every time we go out! I mean really talk about a fish with a great expression!! You can easily see why these giant odd shaped swimmers are one of my hands down favorites and why divers love them so much!! Photos like this are made possible thanks to our friends at Ikelite who make the Worlds finest strobes and housings for your underwater photography pleasure! And NO you don’t need to spend $10,000 on a camera, housing and strobes to get these type of photos, Ikelite has a housing for just about any brand of point and shoot camera and all you need is a strobe or two to go with it! It’s really all about light!
And since we are on the subject of Ikelite, check out our new DEEP SEA STAMPS that they posted on their site yesterday at www.ikelite.com And since your there check out the drop down menu at the top that says “INSPIRATION”. Here you will find articles and tutorials, video’s and galleries, photos school and the Ambassadors. Those of you with GoPro’s will loose your mind when you see the sexy tray and VEGA video lights that are just bgging to be wrapped for Christmas, I love my set more than anything and use them everyday! Here is the link for those, http://www.ikelite.com/lighting/2107.2-vega-dual-kit-gopro-flex.html
Getting ready for a blue-light dive this evening and can hardly wait, have a great day!!
See you soon,