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 ‘Bony Fish’
May 13, 16 Comments Off on Flying Gurnard, Fish with Wings, Colorful Fish
Good morning from Curacao. We have a new resident that moved into our little sub basin last week and each time I have jumped in I have found him. This is a small Flying Gurnard, one of the most bizarre and interesting fish I have ever seen!
The flying gurnard has a magnificent presence and composure compared to other salt water fish, in fact there is no other fish that looks quite like the gurnard. These fish can be found all along the waters of Japan, Polynesia, and even finding its way in the shallow seas of Hawaii. Learn all about this Dactylopteridae family of fish from where they sleep to what they eat.
Sure they may be called flying, but they actually are very slow and “walk” along the bottoms of the ocean floor with their very wide and long fins that look like a wing span. These fins usually have a neon blue ridge, and are covered in dark spots along with their body. These spots gleam off the sunlight giving them a dazzling look as they search for their food along the sands. Their large fins can make their body look quite small, especially their tiny head with two alert eyes poking out. Their scales are somewhat heavy, which is one of the reasons why this fish is so slow. These weighty scales are used as protection since they are exceptionally thick.
Living on the bottom of the ocean, these fish make their resting spot along a seabed and come out during the day to find food to feed upon. They never leave their area and are always found on the sea floor, as their bodies are much to heavy to swim upwards. They can make for a great salt water aquarium fish as they can keep to themselves and not bully any other fish (make sure to read on which fish they do not prey on) that might get in their way.
The diet of a flying gurnard may be surprising to some, since they seem like a docile fish that would only eat algae and coral, but they are the complete opposite. They eat many fish smaller than themselves and have a fondness for shrimp and even crabs. They are scavengers, so if they are living in a tank, a full small crab, shell included is something they would pick clean. Being carnivorous, they will only eat meat and if they can’t find enough in the wild, they will slowly migrate to the next ocean floor.
Flying gurnards are a distinctive species of fish with a one of a kind look. They are beautiful to look at and they pose no big threat to fish larger than themselves. Thanks to second-opinion-doc.com for that wonderful information.
I did three dives again yesterday and I am getting ready for one more right now. This weekend I have a hard 45k race on Sunday so wish me luck!
Have a great day…
May 10, 16 Comments Off on Longlure Frogfish, Fish that Look like Sponges
Good afternoon gang, I had a submersible dive first thing this morning meaning, we had paid guests onboard and I met them underwater for a photo shoot which is included in the $650 ticket price. Tomorrow I’m in search of lionfish to photograph and like always when you want one you can’t find one, even earlier today when I was underwater I only saw two.
So above I have a very hidden, pink Longlure Frogfish that I found on the back of the tugboat at Caracasbaai, can you spot her?? The reason I say her is because most of the larger frogfish are females and the males are much smaller. Typically if you find one frogfish there is a good chance another is close by but good luck trying to find it, they are true masters of disguise!
Sorry so short, a lot going on today!!
See you soon.
May 9, 16 Comments Off on Adult Queen Angelfish, Holocanthus ciliaris
Good morning from the Caribbean, I trust all the moms out there had a wonderful Mother’s Day??? I tried calling mine but was unable to get a line out, this happens quite often when so many are trying to the same thing from such a tiny island. We went to a major Mothers day party last night over at Stijn’s grandparents house. She made multiple white asparagus dishes, steaks, soups, potato yumminess and on and on, we went to bed fat and happy!
I have one of the hands down most colorful fish we have in Curacao for you all today called a Queen Angelfish or Holocanthus ciliaris for you fish people out there. This beauty here was easily over a foot and a half in length and barely slowed down for me to take a photo. I shot this at the Superior Producer (ship wreck) at around 100 foot and if I remember correctly I was only able to get a few shots due to these fish being afraid of their own shadows! As juveniles these fish are what we call “little reef gems” and are a major joy to find. I think in the years we have been here I have only found about a dozen of these little things and most times never had the right lens.
Have a great week out there….
May 6, 16 Comments Off on Tiger Grouper, Large, Bonaire Reef Fish
Hi all, it’s Friday!!! As a friendly reminder Mothers Day is this Sunday, so do whatever it takes to make yours feel super special!
Yesterday was yet another Curacao holiday, that’s two for this week alone making this week fly by!
I have a Tiger Grouper for you all today that I found on one of my many dives in beautiful Bonaire. These poor fish have been more or less wiped out from Curaçao either by fisherman or spearfishing, I think I have only seen 5 in the 12 years I have been diving here. Unlike Bonaire, Curacao has no fishing regulations what so ever and if they do they can not be enforced. Seeing these fish is one of the top reasons we love to go to Bonaire, you can find these at just about any dive site on the island.
I’m now 100% committed to building my new mountain bike trail which I did work on yesterday for around two hours. I think I told you a few days ago I ran into a monster sized bee-hive in my path and yesterday spent the morning re-routing the whole trail just to avoid the nest and I surrounded it with cut brush to keep curious dogs out as well.
Have a great day all!!
Apr 29, 16 Comments Off on Camouflaged Fish/Filefish, Monacanthus ciliatus
Hi all, I have a super camouflaged, very hidden, Fringed Filefish for you all today that we found hiding on the side of a giant pillar that was holding up a monster sized pier. Many have asked, “how did you even spot that” I tell them I was looking for something different and then something moved and with a closer look there it was! These little two inch fish are masters of camouflage and have the ability to change colors in a split second mimicking almost any underwater background color, it’s one of those things I just can’t explain you have to see it to believe it.
Appearing very much like their close relatives the triggerfish, filefish are rhomboid-shaped fish that have beautifully elaborate cryptic patterns. Deeply keeled bodies give a false impression of size when these fish are viewed facing the flanks. Filefish have soft, simple fins with comparatively small pectoral fins and truncated, fan-shaped tail fins; a slender, retractable spine crowns the head. Although there are usually two of these spines, the second spine is greatly reduced, being used only to lock the first spine in the erect position; this explains the family name Monacanthidae, from the Greek monos meaning “one” and akantha meaning “thorn”. Some species also have recurved spines on the base of the tail (caudal peduncle). The small terminal mouths of filefish have specialized incisor teeth on the upper and lower jaw; in the upper jaw there are four teeth in the inner series and six in the outer series; in the lower jaw, there are 4-6 in an outer series only. The snout is tapered and projecting; eyes are located high on the head. Although scaled, some filefish have such small scales as to appear scaleless. Like the triggerfish, filefish have small gill openings and greatly elongated pelvic bones creating a “dewlap” of skin running between the bone’s sharply keeled termination and the belly. The pelvis is articulated with other bones of the “pelvic girdle” and is capable of moving upwards and downwards in many species to form a large dewlap (this is used to make the fish appear much deeper in the body than is actually the case). Some filefish erect the dorsal spine and pelvis simultaneously to make it more difficult for a predator to remove the fish from a cave.
I have a bunch of sub-dives today, I will be in and out of the water all day…
Apr 25, 16 Comments Off on Terminal Phase Sleeping Stoplight Parrotfish
Good morning all, sorry about the lack of attention to the site lately but I am super busy with a new series of deep-sea stamps that will be again issued by the Curacao Post sometime later this year. Many of you remember my last 10 deep-sea fish stamps from 2014 well this time instead of fish it will be all kinds of cool creatures most found by our friends at the Smithsonian Institution. When I get the OK I will send them to you but I am guessing that we will have to wait until they are officially released, stay tuned.
I have a sleeping Stoplight Parrotfish for you all today that we found late at night underneath a swaying gorgonian. If you look carefully you will notice a bunch of brown blotchy spots all over the body, those are not there during the day, only at night. Why you ask, well it’s a way to help them blend in, making themselves darker or a kind of camouflage if you will and it apparently works really well. Aimee and I love to seek out as many sleeping parrotfish as we can when night diving. Our goal is try to find those that are either the most hidden or those that lay out in plain sight, they really are amazing fish and super fun to watch.
Still no rain to be seen, our island is at an all time dried up low and the poor iguana’s are dropping like flies due to the lack of food and water. For a week and half it has been overcast and it looked like rain but not one drop has fallen, it’s so sad!
I spent the weekend riding with friends, watering baby agaves and doing lots of walks with the dogs, I even got to hang out with our buddy Stijn for awhile Sunday morning.
Hope all is well out there…
Apr 20, 16 Comments Off on School of Blackbar Soldierfish Under Sunken Ship
Good morning readers, how is your week going???? It’s pretty quiet on the island right now but that will soon change with “Kings Day” arriving next week wednesday, it’s one of the biggest holidays of the year here. I’m doing a lot of riding lately trying to stay in shape for one of the hardest races of the year coming up June 1st which will be held on my trails and is 3 loops around the salt pond, I think it’s close to 25 miles. Last night we did two of those loops in just over an hour so if I can stay like I am now I should do well.
I have a massive school of Blackbar Soldierfish for you all today that we found residing under the famous sunken tugboat at Caracasbaai. The area of the ship your actually looking at is right where the propellor would have been attached and is now home to thousands of fish, sponges, corals and every kind of little sea creature you can imagine. This ship is only in around 15 feet of water making it the #1 snorkeling spot on the island. It is accessible by the beach or by way of boat and this is where we love to go night diving and especially blue-light diving.
Have a wonderful day….
Apr 13, 16 Comments Off on Juvenile Smooth Trunkfish, Lactophrys triqueter
Good morning from way down south!! I have our hands down favorite fish for you today that puts the letter “C” in CUTE! This is a young trunkfish, it’s not a baby and it’s not an adult so lets just say he or she is a teenager. I think this gentle little treasure was only around an inch and a half in length and I believe we photographed him at night out in front of the Sea Aquarium. When Aimee and I find these (which is fairly uncommon) we pretty much drop whatever we are doing and quietly watch as they work their way around a small part of the reef looking for food. They seem to love algae encrusted areas when they are young and from a distance it looks like they are swimming around kissing the reef but what they are really doing is sucking little pieces of food with that cool mouth. When they get older they use their mouths to blow craters in the sand in search of worms and crabs or other soft invertebrates like Christmas Tree worms which they love but don’t always have good luck catching them.
Have a wonderful day all!!
Apr 11, 16 Comments Off on Solitary Balloonfish, Diodon holocanthus, Puffers
Good morning friends, I placed 2nd in Masters and 8th overall yesterday in the annual 45k Montana/Ennia mountain bike race. The race started in Montana (sounds like mon-ton-ya not like the state of Montana) at 3:00 in the afternoon and went to Playa Kanoa and back! For me it wasn’t the distance it was the heat and wind, who starts a race at three on the island of Curacao??? I am sure it was close to 100 degrees when we started and wasn’t much cooler at 4:30 when I finished! I had packed some food to eat at the half-way point like banana’s but apparently they fell out of my pack early on?? Luckily I still had a jell-pack stuck away and liquid food in one of my bottles otherwise I would still be out there walking!
I have a very gentle, uninflated balloonfish/pufferfish for you all today that I found in a super beautiful section of the reef.
There are more than 120 species of pufferfish worldwide. Most are found in tropical and subtropical ocean waters, but some species live in brackish and even fresh water. They have long, tapered bodies with bulbous heads. Some wear wild markings and colors to advertise their toxicity, while others have more muted or cryptic coloring to blend in with their environment.
They range in size from the 1-inch-long (2.5-centimeter-long) dwarf or pygmy puffer to the freshwater giant puffer, which can grow to more than 2 feet (61 centimeters) in length. They are scaleless fish and usually have rough to spiky skin. All have four teeth that are fused together into a beak-like form.
The diet of the pufferfish includes mostly invertebrates and algae. Large specimens will even crack open and eat clams, mussels, and shellfish with their hard beaks. Poisonous puffers are believed to synthesize their deadly toxin from the bacteria in the animals they eat.
Some species of pufferfish are considered vulnerable due to pollution, habitat loss, and overfishing, but most populations are considered stable.
Have a great day all!!
Apr 8, 16 Comments Off on Scorpionfish at Night, Scorpaena plumieri
Hello friends, I have a scorpionfish for you all today with his classic grumpy face, big mouth and ornate decorations that we found late at night out on the reef. I’ve been searching high and low looking for scorpionfish with our blue-lights at night but am not finding any, it’s a case of when you don’t want them they are everywhere and when you need one you can’t find one to save your life!
Most species of scorpionfish are bottom-dwellers that feed on crustaceans and smaller fish. Many inhabit shallow waters, but a few live as deep as 2,200 m (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. 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.
For those of you who said you sent rain down here I’m sad to say it never arrived, so please re-send as soon as possible please!
Have a great day and weekend!
Apr 6, 16 Comments Off on School of Blackbar Soldierfish Inside Sunken Ship
Good morning folks, we have a slight cloud cover this morning and a few drops of magical rain have fallen but so far nothing major! I was up early as usual and took the hounds for a long walk before work, got the bird feeders filled and the water bowls for the birds all ready. Tonight we are doing a 1st ever blue-light night dive under one of the big piers at Caracasbaai, it will be me, Stijn and our best friend Tina who used to work for the Smithsonian.
I have a beautiful school of Blackbar Soldierfish that I found hiding inside the sunken tugboat at Caracasbaai, this is what I call safety in numbers! The Blackbar Soldierfish, Myripristis jacobus can be located in a marine environment within a subtropical climate. They live in reef-associated waters. The Myripitis jacobus is recorded to be found in the Western Atlantic, Bahamas, Northern Gulf of Mexico, West Indies, the Caribbean Sea, Cape Verde, Principe, Ascension, and St. Helena islands. The biology of this species states that they can be found in coral reefs within deep waters. They are a nocturnal species. They mainly eat plankton. This species is occasionally marketed, but it is not popularly bought as a fish to eat. The Myripistis jacobus is also known as a Blackbar Soldierfish. It is a bright red color along with a black bar behind its head. It also is trimmed with white lines on its fins. This species is also found swimming upside-down at times.
Lots to do around here today…
Mar 31, 16 Comments Off on Trumpetfish Shadowing Behavior w/Different Fish
Good morning from Curacao!
I have two photos for you today showing a behavior we see quite often called “Shadowing or Shadow Hunting”. This is a unique hunting technique that usually involves a trumpetfish (the long fish) slowly swimming behind or on top of a large herbivorous fish, using the larger fish as camouflage, then coiling its body into an s-shape and rapidly lunging at prey when an opportune moment to strike presents itself. Trumpetfish seem to select a shadowing fish based on color but this doesn’t always hold true as you can see from the photos above: red-brown trumpetfish tend to shadow brownish fish like grouper, blue-grey trumpetfish shadow schools of blue fish like blue tang, and occasionally even scuba divers.
Trumpetfish are carnivores that feed on fish and crustaceans. They are ambush predators so they rely on camouflage and stealth to allow them to get close to potential prey. They often assume a head down position among the branches of soft rods or sea whips and their bodies sway back and forth in the current with the flexible branches in an attempt to hide from their prey. This vertical posture allows them to blend in with sea pens, sea rods and pipe sponges, providing useful camouflage. Trumpetfish capture their prey by quickly opening their large mouth to create suction that pulls in their prey. Because they are capable of opening their mouths as wide as the diameter of their bodies, they are capable of capturing large prey.
Have a wonderful day and again please send some rain down here!!
Mar 29, 16 Comments Off on Trumpetfish, Aulostomus maculatus, Long fish
Good morning friends, did you all have a wonderful Easter vacation??? I had a four day holiday and was busy from sun-up till down-down every single day with watering my baby agaves, dog walks, diving and mountain biking, that seems to my World in a nutshell!! Stijn and I did fun night dive Sunday evening, he went in search of lionfish while I worked on more blue-light images. Near the end of the dive Stijn franticly signaled me to come over and help him with a seven foot long green moray eel that was wrapped around his lionfish bucket. These eels have such an incredible sense of smell, you think sharks can smell blood, heck I think eels can smell it even better! I ended up chasing him off with my light and using my fins to create a surge of sorts that he felt immediately.
I have a dark colored Trumpetfish for you all today pretending he is part of the gorgonian. This is one of the most common hiding/resting places for these long fish, if you don’t see them swimming around on the reef start looking inside the soft corals, this is home sweet home for them!!
Have a great day and please send some rain down here!!
Mar 16, 16 Comments Off on Bandtail Puffer Camouflaged in Sand, Pufferfish
Hi all, off to a late start. I’m getting the underwater camera ready once again for another attempt at a blue-light dive and this time I do have the +4 filter screwed onto the front of the lens.
I have a little four inch Bandtail Puffer for your viewing pleasure today that I found buried in the sand on one of our many night dives. So many people ask me “what happens to the reef fish at night”? Well, from my observations each species does it’s own thing but for the most part they all find a safe place to hide. For instance the parrotfish sleep everywhere sometimes very hidden and sometimes right out in the open while wrasses and other fish wedge themselves deep down into the coral crevasses and fire corals. During the day these Bandtails swim around without a care in the World but at night they bury themselves like the lizardfish and flounders, pretty smart if you ask me.
Sphoeroides spengleri is widely distributed in the western Atlantic from Massachusetts (USA) southward to Santa Catarina (Brazil), including the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean, at depths ranging from very shallow waters to 45 meters. It is found in a variety of coastal and island habitats including reefs, seagrass beds and turbid waters with low visibility. Sphoeroides spengleri is considered common, however not abundant, as they are generally solitary fish and considered to be highly toxic.
I had a fun, very fast bike ride with my neighbor last night, it was only 10 miles but was a great way to end the day.
See you soon…
Mar 15, 16 Comments Off on Adult Spotted Trunkfish. Lactophrys bicaudalis
Hi all, we had a failed blue-light photo night dive due to yours truly forgetting to put the very important “+4 magnifying filter” over the the front of the 28-70 zoom lens, without this little piece of glass the lens can not focus underwater. We were about 10 minutes out last night when I realized something was wrong with the lens, I thought the auto-focus was just broken on the lens and never even realized it was the dumb little filter until this morning, what a drag! That’s kind of the down-side to blue-light photos, there is so much preparation and so much stuff one needs to carry to get good shots and it is for sure a two person job. Now a days when I see something I want to shoot Aimee will help light it up with a hand-held blue-light attached to a VEGA this way I can better see what I am shooting and the camera doesn’t have to work as hard trying to focus. Once we realized the mistake we called it a night and swam right back in, will try again tomorrow evening.
I have a super gentle, Spotted Trunkfish for you all today that we found a few years back under the pier at Caracas baai. I post pictures of the Smooth Trunkfish all the time and those are common and fairly un-shy but these are the complete opposite. We rarely see this species out free swimming like it’s cousin and doing it’s own thing, they just want to be left alone and watch the reef pass by from the safely of their little caves.
The Spotted Trunkfish is a member of the family Ostraciidae. It can be found in reefs throughout the Caribbean, as well as the south eastern Atlantic Ocean. The species gets its name from the black spots it has covered over its yellowish golden body.
The spotted trunkfish, like all trunkfish of the Genus Lactophrys, secretes a colorless toxin from glands on its skin when touched. The toxin is only dangerous when ingested, so there’s no immediate harm to divers. Predators however, as large as nurse sharks, can die as a result of eating a trunkfish.
Hope you all are well…