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’
May 28, 15 Comments Off
Hi friends, I have another fun video for you all but should to be watched in 720p HD and not the standard 360p, like all the rest of my video’s. To do this you have to either go to Youtube via this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aYA-5Ty4vyE and click on the little gear at the bottom right corner of the video, it’s in between a clock and a frame OR just click on the little gear on my blog page after the video starts and change to 720pHD. The downside to the blog page is your watching it so small, on Youtube you can view in two different sizes.
Our family members are in route and arrive tonight, to say we are excitted is an understatement! Be warned I may be busy this next week but will try my best to log on and toss some underwater entertainment your way!
Be well out there..
May 27, 15 Comments Off
Good morning from one of the driest places on the planet! I would have never dreamed in a million years that islands in the Caribbean go for so long without rain but unbelievably it’s true! Our once beautiful forest is now a desert and it’s bone dry! My poor trails are like mountain biking on powdered sugar and if the wind is blowing… well, it’s just not a good time, not even the dogs want to go out any more! We continue to take water and food out to the desert everyday and the animals are of course loving it! This morning I had a little hermit crab problem and once again brought home 2 hermits without shells?? Yeah, they won’t live long without those. I had some spares here at work and will take them home to them right after doing this.
I have a close-up shot of a scorpionfish eye for you all today, thought I would give you a little break on the video’s.
Scorpaenidae, the scorpionfish, are a family of mostly marine fish that includes many of the world’s most venomous species. As the name suggests, scorpionfish have a type of “sting” in the form of sharp spines coated with venomous mucus. The family is a large one, with hundreds of members. They are widespread in tropical and temperate seas, but mostly found in the Indo-Pacific. They should not be confused with the cabezones, of the genus Scorpaenichthys, which belong to a separate, though related family, Cottidae.
Most species are bottom-dwellers that feed on crustaceans and smaller fish. Many inhabit shallow waters, but a few live as deep as 2,200 metres (7,200 ft). Most Scorpionfish, such as the stonefish, wait in disguise for prey to pass them by before swallowing, while lionfish often ambush their prey. When not ambushing, lionfish may herd the fish, shrimp, or crab in to a corner before swallowing. Like many perciform fishes, scorpionfish are suction feeders that capture prey by rapidly projecting a suction field generated by expansion of the fish’s buccal cavity.
I have a long training ride tonight with two of my students who have a race out here next weekend on all my trails, I may or may not enter.
We have Aimee’s sister and family arriving tomorrow night for 10 days so I may be away from the computer at times, we have lots of fun activities already planned!
Have a wonderful day..
May 26, 15 Comments Off
Good morning friends, on yesterdays dive with Stijn we found or should I say he found the hands down most carefree lionfish I have ever seen!! This beautiful redish color lionfish was over a foot long and just hanging out on in the middle of the reef like he owned the place, maybe that’s because he knows he does?? As most of you know by now the east coast of America, the Bahamas and the Caribbean are under attack by a species of fish that is not supposed to be here, these are called lionfish and are some of the most spectacular creatures you will ever see!
Lionfish or Pterois volitans, which makes up approximately 93% of the invasive lionfish population, is also commonly called “red lionfish” and Pterois miles is often called the “common lionfish” or “devil firefish.” However, their common names do not match the origins of their scientific names. The genus name, Pterois, pronounced (tare-oh-eese) is defined in modern dictionaries as simply “lionfish”, however the word Pterois comes from the Greek word “pteroeis” meaning “feathered” or “winged” and the Ancient Greek word, “πτερόν” (pteron), meaning “feather” or “wing”. The species name, volitans, pronounced (vole-ee-tahnz), is Latin for “flying” or “hovering” and the present participle of the Latin word “volitō,” which means “to fly” or “to hover. ”The species name, miles, pronounced (mee-layz), is Latin for “soldiering” and the present participle of the Latin word “mīlitō”, which means “to soldier.
No one is quite sure where the name “lionfish” really came from but it would be a logical guess that when both pectoral fins are completely extended and fanned out a head-on view of the lionfish might resemble a male lion’s mane. Others have also suggested that it might be a tip of the hat to the lionfish as a ferocious predator.
Pterois fish in the Atlantic range from 5 to 45 cm (2.0 to 17.7 in) in length, weighing from 0.025 to 1.3 kg (0.055 to 2.866 lb). They are well known for their ornate beauty, venomous spines, and unique tentacles. Juvenile lionfish have a unique tentacle located above their eye sockets that varies in phenotype between species. The evolution of this tentacle is suggested to serve to continually attract new prey; studies also suggest it plays a role in sexual selection.
Pterois species can live from five to 15 years and have complex courtship and mating behaviors. Females release two mucus-filled egg clusters frequently, which can contain as many as 15,000 eggs. Studies on Pterois reproductive habits have increased significantly in the past decade. All the species are aposematic: they have conspicuous coloration with boldly contrasting stripes and wide fans of projecting spines, advertising their ability to defend themselves.
According to a study that involved the dissection of over 1,400 lionfish stomachs from Bahamian to North Carolinian waters, Pterois fish prey mostly on small fish, invertebrates, and mollusks in large amounts, with some specimens’ stomachs containing up to six different species of prey. The amount of prey in lionfish stomachs over the course of the day suggests lionfish feed most actively from 7:00–11:00 am, with decreased feeding throughout the afternoon. Lionfish are skilled hunters, using specialized bilateral swim bladder muscles to provide exquisite control of location in the water column, allowing the fish to alter its center of gravity to better attack prey. The lionfish then spreads its large pectoral fins and swallows its prey in a single motion. They blow jets of water while approaching prey, apparently to disorient them.
The red lionfish is found off the East Coast of the United States and the Caribbean Sea, and was likely first introduced off the Florida coast by the early to mid-1990s. This introduction may have occurred in 1992 when Hurricane Andrew destroyed an aquarium in southern Florida, releasing six lionfish into Biscayne Bay. However, a lionfish was discovered off the coast of Dania Beach, south Florida, as early as 1985, prior to Hurricane Andrew. The lionfish resemble those of the Philippines, implicating the aquarium trade. The lionfish may have been purposefully discarded by unsatisfied aquarium enthusiasts. In 2001, NOAA documented several sightings of lionfish off the coast of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Bermuda, and as far north now as Delaware. In August 2014, when the Gulf Stream was discharging into the mouth of the Delaware Bay, two lionfish were caught by a surf fisherman off the ocean side shore of Cape Henlopen State Park: one red one that weighed 1 pound 4.5 ounces and one common one that weighed 1 pound 2 ounces. Three days later a 1 pound 3 ounce red lionfish was caught off the shore of Broadkill Beach which is in the Delaware Bay approximately 15 miles north of Cape Henlopen State Park. Lionfish were first detected in the Bahamas in 2004. Recently they have been discovered as far east as Barbados, and as far south as the Los Roques Archipelago and many Venezuelan continental beaches.
If you can change your viewing settings put it at 720, then you will see these in HD.
Have a wonderful all…..
May 25, 15 Comments Off
Good morning friends, I’ve been posting photos of blue tang aggregation for years and finally have a little video clip (watch in 720) that better explains this crazy underwater sight. I have two parts to this video as I followed them a long time, it’s just such a cool thing to witness!
We see these large groups called “aggregations” on the reef here every single day and I still never seem to get tired of it, they are just so beautiful. Adult blue tangs have three social modes: territorial, wandering, and schooling. Territorial adults defend their home rage from other members of the species. Schooling adults are not aggressive. Wanderer adults are not aggressive nor do they interact with other individuals like schooling fish do. Wanderers are mostly chased by other fish including Ocean surgeonfish and damselfishes. Occasionally, Blue Tangs form large multi-species aggregations with other surgeonfishes as seen above.
Blue tangs may benefit from forming schools for two reasons. First, individuals may experience lower rates of predation when feeding in large groups. Second, by feeding in groups, fish might be able to work together to overcome the territorial defenses of other fishes. For example, a single blue tang is easily chased away by an aggressive damselfish defending its territory. However, when a large school of blue tangs and their schoolmates try to feed on algae in a damselfish’s territory, there is little that the damselfish can do. When this occurs, the damselfish frantically, but ultimately fruitlessly, attempts to chase away their more numerous attackers while the school consumes all of the algae in their territories.
Blue tangs are active during the day, hiding in crevices on the reef at night to avoid predators.
Juvenile blue tangs are solitary and occupy home ranges that increase with body size. Juveniles aggressively defend their home ranges from juvenile ocean surgeonfish. Juveniles also avoid damselfishes that overlap in range with them.
How was your weekend?? Still no rain here in Curacao, it’s scary dry and not so beautiful to look at! I did a 35 mile mountain bike ride yesterday morning which took two hours and forty five minutes and got home just as the crazy winds started up again, talk about not fun to be out in! This morning Stijn is coming over to go out diving with me, he just arrived for the states and will be here for a few months during his summer break.
Have a great day all…..
May 22, 15 Comments Off
Hi boys and girls, I have a short but fun clip for you all today of a beautiful 16 inch scrawled filefish that I found out on the reef a few hours ago. You may have to watch this on Youtube as it’s so small, here is the link….
Check out the sharp spine on top of it’s head, this can be raised or lowered depending on how worried he or she is and as you can see he or she is a bit concerned. This ultra cool fish like so many others can change colors in the blink of eye, it’s truly one of the top coolest fish in the Caribbean sea.
Have a great day..
May 21, 15 Comments Off
Hi gang, sorry about the lazy blogs this week but I am having a weird week. I have a super cool, medium sized smooth trunkfish for you all today that I found yesterday at around 45 feet on the Sea Aquarium house reef. As I followed I noticed all he or she wanted to do was to eat but as you can see the reef is full of crazy little damselfish that guard every inch of property out there and hate trespassers!
Rhinesomus triqueter, the smooth trunkfish, is a species of boxfish found on and near reefs in the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and subtropical parts of the Western Atlantic Ocean. It is the only known member of its genus.
The smooth trunkfish has an angular body sheathed in plate-like scales, growing to a maximum length of 47 centimetres (19 in), though 20 cm (8 in) is a more normal size. The body is enclosed in a bony carapace and, when viewed from the front, is triangular in shape with a narrow top and wide base. The fish has a pointed snout with protuberant lips encircling a small mouth. The tail is shaped like a brush. The general background colour is dark with a pattern of small white spots, often in hexagonal groups giving a honeycomb-like appearance in the middle area of the body. The tip of the snout and the area round the pectoral fins are dark with few spots and the eyes are black. The fins are usually yellowish with a dark base and tips. They have only soft rays with no spines.
The juveniles have dark colored bodies covered in large yellow spots. As they get older, they develop a pale area where the honeycomb markings will later appear.
The smooth trunkfish is found down to a depth of about 50 m (164 ft) on coral reefs and over sandy seabeds in the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and the western Atlantic Ocean. The range extends from Canada and the Gulf of Maine southwards to Brazil.
The smooth trunkfish is normally solitary but sometimes moves around in small groups. It uses its protuberant lips to expel a jet of water which disturbs the sandy seabed and reveals any shallowly buried benthic invertebrates. It feeds on small molluscs, polychaete worms, acorn worms, peanut worms, small crustaceans, sponges and tunicates.
Our submersible is on the way up the reef with Carole Baldwin inside so I better get out there and see if they found anything…
Have a great day.
May 19, 15 Comments Off
Good afternoon friends, about a week ago I sent you some photos of a Sergeant Major guarding his eggs, you can either just scroll down to see it or click on this link to refresh your memory.
So this morning while I was under the sea I thought why not try and get a little video-clip that better shows how these fish constantly fan their eggs and how dedicated they are to ensuring their survival. If you look closely you will see a one foot square area of lavender colored eggs all glued to the side of this rock, these are about a week old now. When freshly laid the eggs are a beautiful dark purple color and as time passes and the little ones start to grow they start turning a much lighter almost grey color. In the beginning of the film you will see a little black fish with a yellow tail pass by, that’s a little sea bass called a Yellowtail Hamlet. The Sergeant Major knows that this little bass is not after her or her eggs and therefor is left unbothered. With that said, any other fish that passes to close to her eggs will be chased off and folks this little six inch fish can be very aggressive! Now normally it’s the job of the male Sergeant Major to guard the eggs so I’m not quite sure what is going on here, maybe a lunch break?? The male is usually a very dark blue or purple color and doesn’t have these very noticeable yellow stripes. Can you imagine laying your eggs (thousands of them) on the side of a rock out in plain site and having to defend it from an ocean full of hungry fish??? At least at night she can chill and go to sleep, what a life!!! For those of interested, I found this fantastic information on why fish fan their eggs…..Check it out!!
I had a fun weekend and got to spend all day Sunday with Carole Baldwin from the Smithsonian Institution, you know her, the Worlds leading authority on Caribbean reef fish! Her and I spent a good part of the day beach combing and chillin on the beach and then at 4:00 took off on a 33 mile, three hour mountain bike ride, I was done and it was game over by 8:00! Oh yeah, this is funny… I locked my keys in my car while at the beach but luckily left the window down about 3 inches. At first we both just looked at each other in disbelief and tried a few things that didn’t work. So as a last resort, I was holding a full size garden rake (don’t ask why) and to my complete astonishment it fit in through the window! I put the metal part in first and then since the handle was so long was able to hook my keys that were in the ignition and pull them out, it really could not have been easier and took less than a minute, I’m now thinking everyone should carry a rake!!!
Have a wonderful day!!
May 13, 15 Comments Off
Good afternoon friends, I have a short but fun clip of some of our local residents swimming in circles in around 15-20 feet of crystal clear Caribbean water. Most of the yellow striped fish you see are Smallmouth Grunts with a few French Grunts mixed in there as well. These fish are all around 7-9 inches in length and are rarely found deeper than 60 foot. Looking more closely you will also see different species of parrotfish, blue tangs, sergeant majors, wrasses and on an on, this is an everyday “quick look” into what we see every time we head out for a dive.
Super busy today, I hope all is well out there!!
May 12, 15 Comments Off
Good morning from the windy, dry Caribbean! I have a cute Spotted Trunkfish, Lactophrys bicaudalis for your viewing pleasure today that I found a few days ago hiding inside a big cave. Here in the Curacao we have three species of trunkfish, the Buffalo Trunkfish, Lactophrys trigonus, the Smooth Trunkfish, Lactophrys triqueter and the Spotted Trunkfish, Lactophrys bicaudalis as seen above. Of these three, the buffalo trunkfish is by far the hardest to find and I think if memory serves me right I have only ever seen one and yes I did get a photo. The second hardest to find is the spotted trunkfish, (above) they are so shy and seemingly scared of their own shadows?? And last is the smooth trunkfish that can be found in great numbers all over the reef and for some reason are not afraid of anything?
Spotted trunkfish are shy but curious fish that swim slowly above reefs, often hovering under ledges or over small holes. They prefer warm temperatures between 22 and 26 degrees C (72 and 79 F) and depths between 4.5 and 18 meters (15 and 60 ft). Trunkfish are protected by a bony outer surface that acts as body armor and includes two sharp spines guarding their rear fins. The rigid outer structure helps protect spotted trunkfish from predators, but they are poor swimmers because of their rigidity and bulky shape. At maturity they average 15 to 30 cm (6 to 12 in) in length.
These fish are very weary of divers unlike the more common Smooth Trunkfish that you can almost pet. These guys spend their days hiding in the reef and unless your really looking for them you probably won’t see one. The Smooth Trunkfish on the other hand is out in the open all day and those can be found everywhere on the reef either digging in the sand looking for food or eating algae off rocks. Since we have been here we have only seen 3 or 4 juvenile Spotted Trunkfishes, those are so hard to find and are on our “Holy Grail” fish finding list.
Have a great day out there…
May 5, 15 Comments Off
Good morning friends, the winds here in Curacao are pushing 38 knots this morning, that’s around 43 mph not including the 60 mph wind gusts, not a fun place to be right now!
I have two different, very aggressive, male Sergeant Major’s for you all today that I photographed a few days ago guarding their eggs which you can see in the last photo. Sergeant Majors earn their name from their brightly striped sides, known as bars, which are reminiscent of the insignia of a military sergeant major. This is a very common reef fish growing to a maximum size of about 7 inches and found in the 1-40 foot zone. The female will lay her eggs in patches on a firm substrate and the male will guard them vigorously until they hatch. The males will turn a sky blue color during this period. These poor males work so hard at chasing off any passing fish or diver that they think may want to eat their eggs, they have to defend the eggs all day long! Like all other damselfish these Sergeant majors are aggressive beyond belief and will go to great efforts to defend the nest, I can’t even count the number of times I have been chased away by a damselfish or bitten on the ear! When the eggs are freshly laid they are a bright purple color as you see in the background of photo 3 on the left side. During the “egg guarding process” the male will constantly fan the eggs with his peck fins as you see in photo 2 which aids in better water circulation, meaning healthy babies! Later when they are just about ready to hatch the eggs turn a clear color (photo 1 and 2) and you can see each individual fish inside each little egg, which means two big well developed eyes and a clear body all looking up at you!
Individuals of this species form aggregations of about several hundreds of individuals. Sometines, they get cleaned of parasites by fish species such as gobies in the genus Gobiosoma, Bodianus rufus, Elacatinus figaro, and Thalassoma noronhanum. Sergeant majors also clean green sea turtles with Acanthurus chirurgus and Acanthurus coeruleus.
Have a wonderful day…
May 4, 15 Comments Off
Good afternoon friends, I’m back!! I had another three day weekend and stayed far away from the computer, I love being out of touch! Aimee and I both refuse to enter the world of mobile phones, we only carry our antique Nokia disposable phones that have zero access to the internet, so no texting or surfing on the go for us.
My three days off went super fast but they sure were fun, just ask the dogs! Each day I took them on one 2-3 hour adventure and returned them worn out and dirty! After their baths,(which one of them really hates) these two lucky dogs lay in the comfort of an air conditioned room and snooze the afternoon away, sounds great right! A friend of ours once said…”I want to come back in my second life as one of your dogs” hah, that’s for sure!
Yesterday morning I rode my bike to Saint Joris Bay and collected driftwood inside the mangroves all by my little self for around 3 hours. For those of you who remember our driftwood Christmas tree that we have had now for a few years… well, I’m building a bigger one. The wood used for these trees has to be super smooth, beautiful pieces and here in Curacao these are getting very hard to find. So, I’m resorting to drastic measures and swimming inside the mangroves to look for trapped pieces that will never make it to the shore of any beach. This is a very dirty task which involves crawling and contorting your body in a million different positions kind of like the game of “Twister” but only inside mangroves! I ended up finding so much great material that I was unable to get any of it back on the bike, we came back with the dogs in the evening and loaded up! Once I get the new tree built I will send you a photo, it’s going to be beautiful!
I was underwater most of the morning photographing our mini-submersible, mondays are usually very busy around here.
Curacao is under a high-wind advisory and I think Dolphin Academy had to cancel programs due to big waves pounding the rocky shoreline!
Your photo above is a giant school of Black Margates that I found on the rough side of Bonaire a few years back, sorry the photo is so small.
I have to run, that’s it for today..
Apr 30, 15 Comments Off
Good afternoon from the windiest place on earth! I’m not kidding you when I say the wind is blowing like a hurricane, our normal blue sky is gone and has been replaced by a cloud of dust creating an island wide haze and it’s crazy hot! Aimee and I commented today that in the years we have been here we have never seen it quite this bad…. and to think I have to go biking in this tonight, boy I can hardy wait!
I have a little 5 inch long juvenile trumpetfish hiding in some gorgonians for you all today that I found a few days ago before this wind started. Around here baby trumpetfish are hard to find, maybe because they are masters at hiding and blending in. Without the use of my flashes you would have a hard time finding this guy on the reef as he just drifts vertically and really never moves. This fish can grow to be over 3 feet in length so finding one this small is quite a rare find.
Not much to report, everyone is inside hiding from this wind and from what I just heard, next week will be even worse??
We have another island holiday tomorrow, have a wonderful weekend all!!
Apr 28, 15 Comments Off
Good morning from Curacao! Sorry for the lack of blogs these past few days but we had another three day weekend due to another holiday and I was no where near my computer. Yesterday was “Kings Day”, one of the biggest holidays of the year, and NO Curacao does not have a King but the Netherlands does. Kings Day is the Kings birthday and is celebrated with everyone wearing orange, (the Netherlands national colors), wild non-stop parties and live events all day long, I stayed home!
I have two Slender Filefish for you all today in their pre-mating mode. This means the larger filefish on the left with his head spine erect and his large dewlap (belly appendage) is trying to court this lovely female. I watched this for quite awhile and wished I would have had a video camera. The male swims around and follows the female in hopes of some kind of reaction, he even nudges her with his nose at times and he can be quite persistent. These little three inch fish have the ability to change colors to match the environment they are living in and I swear if you take your eyes off them for a second you will have a hard time finding them again, their camouflage ability makes them difficult to spot. They seem to love gorgonians the most and swim or should I say drift vertically from one to another all day long changing colors to match the environment they are entering, it’s really one of the most amazing things I have ever seen in the sea.
Our island continues to be stuck in this drought and the wind is blowing non-stop! Aimee and I are taking water and food out to the trails around the clock to do our small part in helping to keep some of the animals alive, I don’t know how these survive through these horrible months!
I spent the last three days doing long morning dog walks, a little bike riding and getting a bunch of stuff done around the house.
Hope all is well out there…
Apr 23, 15 Comments Off
Good morning, I have a very gentle, super fun to watch, reef fish for you all today called a Banded Butterflyfish or Chaetodon striatus. The name is derived from the dark vertical bands on the fish’s body. This, combined with a vertical, black bar through the eye, is an adaptation that can confuse predators. These fish are around five inches in length, can be found easily in the 10-60 foot zone and are usually always found in pairs. These two here can always be found in the same area and I have been swimming with them for years so they are more or less pretty used to me and my giant camera. As I was taking my pictures one of them (top photo) left the safety of the gorgonian and swam right up to the front of my camera and proceeded to just hang out there without a care in the World, it was great! Encounters like this allow me to get many hard to get shots like the straight on face shot which is usually the hardest of all shots to get.
Aimee and I did a fun 20 mile mountain bike ride last night through the wilds of Curacao, it was hot, windy and dry but we had a great time!
We have two sub dives today, one at 11:00 and the next at 1:30, will be a busy day!
See you again soon…..
Apr 22, 15 Comments Off
Hi all, I have fresh fish for you all today meaning I just took these photos about 30 minutes ago! This is a foot long Glasseye Snapper, Heteropriacanthus cruentatus that I found under a rocky ledge waiting for his photo to be taken. The top photo shows a perfect face shot dripping with expression and the second photo is the same fish stretching his mouth or yawning, talk about a big mouth!! The bottom photo shows our snapper in parked position where he will hang out for most of the day. At dusk these snappers will leave the safety of the rocks and head out onto the reef to hunt, thus the big eyes which helps them to navigate the reef at night, sure wish they would eat the lionfish!
Glasseye Snappers are common in lagoons and seaward reefs primarily around islands, down to 15 m. They generally prefer shallow reefs (a clue in distinguishing them from similar Bigeye, Priacanthus arenatus that prefer deep reef tops). Often hide in dark recesses of reefs by day, but occasionally drift out into the open near bottom. Nocturnal, feeding mainly on octopuses, pelagic shrimps, stomatopods, crabs, small fish and polychaetes. During the day usually singly or in small groups under or near ledges, but at dusk it may gather in large numbers.
Curacao is back to being BONE DRY with no rain in sight, I don’t understand how anything can survive out there, we really need rain!
Have a great day!