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’
Aug 26, 14 Comments Off
Hi friends, I had a request asking if moray eels have a nose or nostrils and do they have bones, YES to both!
The elongate body is laterally compressed or “flattened” and this fish possesses a muscular appearance. The spotted moray lacks pelvic and pectoral fins, the former true of all eels, the latter true of all morays. The dorsal and anal fins are long and are continuous with the short caudal fin. The incurrent nostrils are conspicuous tube-like structures, while the excurrent pair take the form of simple openings. The tubular nostrils spotted on moray eels are believed to help them detect prey. Having poor eyesight and hearing, they rely mostly on their sense of smell to alert them of prey and other marine animals. The coloration of their skin and the shapes of their fins and nostrils help them camouflage with their environment. For example, the blue ribbon eel’s nostrils are shaped like aquatic plant leaves to help it blend in.
There are nearly 200 different types of moray eels around the world, but they all share several things in common. Most morays are about 1.5 meters long however some have been known to grow as long as 4 meters in length. Morays come in a wide variety of colors and patterns. All moray eels posses a long spine which gives them their snakelike body and allows these aquatic vertebrates to maneuver forwards and backwards through the water with a serpentine motion. Unlike most fish who use suction to capture their prey, moray eels have a unique, second jaw which allows them to drag their prey into their mouth. The pharyngeal jaw (pharyngeal meaning near the pharynx), located deep within the throat, snaps forward and clamps down on the prey once the first jaw has a firm grip. The eel will then relax its first jaw and pull the prey into its throat using its pharyngeal jaw. Eels have sharp, curved canine teeth which enables them to latch onto their prey with a firm grip. Some eels, like the Atlantic Green Moray Eel, even come equipped with a third row of teeth on the roof of their mouth. Bacteria forms on the insides of their mouths and this can easily cause an infection from a bite wound. A tall dorsal fin runs the length of a moray eels back and is joined with a smaller caudal fin (or tail fin) which runs from the bottom of the tail and ends halfway along the underside of the body. They lack pectoral fins and thus lack vertical stability. It is not uncommon for them to drift lazily on their side. Two small, circular gills located behind the mouth allow the moray eel to breath. Morays continually open and close their mouths in order to pump water through their gills. Eels also have a layer of mucus which coats their thick, scale-less skin in order to protect them from germs and parasites; in some species this mucus is toxic. This mucus also assists them in maneuvering quickly and painlessly through the rough edges of coral reefs.
I am off for next few days so the blog will most likely be getting done in the evenings. Aimee did not get to Michigan on time! I heard from Emily she had to spend the night in the airport in Chicago and today found a flight to Green Bay and was getting picked up by friends and hand delivered the rest of the way??
Time for dinner, see you soon.
Aug 20, 14 Comments Off
Good morning from Curacao. I had a friend asking if fish really do sleep, the answer is YES! I found this video I shot a few weeks ago late at night of a giant Stoplight Parrotfish, Sparisoma viride tucked away, sheltered from the current sleeping under a swaying gorgonian. This guy was close to two feet in length and never really reacted to me or the lights, he was pretty much in his happy place. I find that few parrotfish on the reef secrete mucus cocoons but many do in the shallows and I always find the leftover cocoons on the sand in the mornings. Almost all the fish you see during the day you won’t see at night, they are either sleeping out in the open like this parrotfish or tucked away down in the safety of the rocks or corals. As divers we try to not wake the fish with our bright lights but many times it can’t be avoided. If a sleeping fish is startled it will quickly swim off into the darkness and find another home but it can do serious damage to itself in the process. I have seen parrotfish wake up scared from lights and swim right into rocks and corals which could knock them out if they are not careful.
Parrotfishes are a group of about 90 species traditionally regarded as a family (Scaridae), but now often considered a subfamily (Scarinae) of the wrasses. They are found in relatively shallow tropical and subtropical oceans throughout the world, displaying their largest species richness in the Indo-Pacific. They are found in coral reefs, rocky coasts, and seagrass beds, and play a significant role in bioerosion. A number of parrotfish species, including the queen parrotfish (Scarus vetula), secrete a mucus cocoon, particularly at night.
Prior to going to sleep, some species extrude mucus from their mouths, forming a protective cocoon that envelops the fish, presumably hiding its scent from potential predators. This mucus envelope may also act as an early warning system, allowing the parrotfish to flee when it detects predators such as moray eels disturbing the membrane. The skin itself is covered in another mucous substance which may have antioxidant properties helpful in repairing bodily damage, or repelling parasites, in addition to providing protection from UV light. Although they are considered to be herbivores, parrotfish eat a wide variety of reef organisms, and they are not necessarily vegetarian.
Species such as the green humphead parrotfish (Bolbometopon muricatum) include coral (polyps) in their diets. Their feeding activity is important for the production and distribution of coral sands in the reef biome, and can prevent algae from choking coral. The teeth grow continuously, replacing material worn away by feeding. Their pharyngeal teeth grind up the coral and coralline algae the fish ingest during feeding. After they digest the edible portions from the rock, they excrete it as sand, helping to create small islands and the sandy beaches of the Caribbean. One parrotfish can produce 90 kg (200 lb) of sand each year. Or, very averagely (as there are so many variables i.e. size/species/location/depth etc), about 275 g per parrotfish per day. While feeding, parrotfish must be cognizant of predation by one of their main predators, the lemon shark.
Have a great day.
Aug 12, 14 Comments Off
Here’s a colorful photo of a big school of Blue Tangs cruising through the reef with a single goatfish (yellow fish) trying hard to blend in. I really had quite a laugh underwater watching this single goatfish, it’s like he always wanted to be a blue tang and figured they wouldn’t even notice if he hung out with them. 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.
It’s blazing HOT in Curacao today, if your headed this way bring your sunblock!
See you soon, Barry
Jul 9, 14 Comments Off
Hi everyone, no I did not fall off the face of the Earth, I am just having one of those weeks!! Yesterday, tuesday I did 4 dives and went straight home to bed, no bike riding! On one of my dives monday I discovered that one of my big finger coral colonies had fallen over due to an infestation of damselfish and lack of support. So yesterday I brought in loads of giant stones from the desert weighing 50-100lbs and took them one by one out to the reef to act as a new barrier so the rest of the corals will stay put. Moving giant stones underwater is a kind of art. Once the stones are underwater, you have to first put a sling around each one and then attach the sling to a rope that is connected to a big white bucket. Then I fill the bucket with air from my tank and “presto” the air in the bucket lifts the stone and off we go! So this is what I did for an hour and a half yesterday, back and forth to 50 feet and back taking stone after stone out to it’s new home. Not only do these rocks aid in holding up my corals they will now be homes to hundreds of little creatures and fish. In fact yesterday no sooner had I put a stone in place and a little yellow damselfish moved right in and staked his claim, talk about brave!
Today I took the day off to spend with Aimee and celebrate my birthday. I left the house at 6:30m and rode my bike over to the north coast (takes about an hour) where I met Aimee and the dogs. We then did a fun ride towards Playa Kanoa stopping at our favorite little beach to let the dogs swim and for us to do some beach collecting. After returning the girls back to the car I rode back home which took another hour, so I got in a good 3 hour ride. I believe we are going out diving later this afternoon to work on our brain coral project and to check on my finger corals, so much to do, so little time!
I have a fairly rare fish that we don’t see too often here in Curacao. This a baby/juvenile Highhat Drum, Pareques acuminatus and let me tell you these little fish are a joy to watch.
The name “Drum” was given to these, and several other similar species, because drum fish can make a low resonance noise similar to the beating of a drum. Highhat drums are found on coral reefs in the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, Florida and the Bahamas. They can be found at all recreational depths. They swim alone, usually under cover of a ledge, coral, or the opening of small caves. For this reason, you will need to get low to find them.
Highhat drum are nocturnal, so it’s possible to find them out feeding during a night dive.
Well gang, lots to do, have a great day!!
Jul 7, 14 Comments Off
Good morning friends, I know I’m off to a late start but better late than never right?? So how was your weekend??? I know many of you are so glad to be done with that long cold winter and you can finally get outside into your gardens and feel a little warmth of the sun! For us Caribbean folk, we don’t know the word “winter”, it’s always warm 365 days a year, granted it humid but I will take this over snow and freezing cold.
My weekend went by fast as always with bike rides, trail work and diving and like always come monday I am wiped out! I did do a dive with my macro lens this morning but didn’t find anything new that you hadn’t already seen, I’m running out of new animals to post! Yesterday, Sunday I did a dive down by Pier Baai and was on a mission to photograph brain coral but ended up spending the whole dive removing fishing line and lures from the reef, what a mess! I’m one of those divers that will drop everything to remove a section of fishing line from the reef, if a turtle were to pass by that stuff he is going to get tangled and drown! I carry a whole bunch of different tools to cut line and have big pockets to put it all in after it is removed and once home it goes straight to the trash with a big smile on my face!
I have another tranquil reef scene for your viewing pleasure today showing a beautiful gorgonian that looks like a tree with a big Schoolmaster, Lutjanus apodus hanging out under it.
The schoolmaster snapper, Lutjanus apodus, is a colorful, subtropical fish found over coral reef areas along the coasts of Florida, the Bahamas, and the Caribbean, though it can range northward along the Atlantic coast of the United States. Adults are 12-14 in (30-35 cm) long and weigh 1.0-2.0 lb (0.4-0.8 kg), though rare individuals can weigh 8 lb at 24 in long. It has a robust, slightly compressed body, with a pointed head. Its color varies from silvery to bronze. Fins and tails are yellow and the snout contains blue stripes. As the common name suggests, schoolmaster snapper live in groups of dozens of subjects. They keep a short distance from the sea floor at depths between 10 and 90 ft, prefer the cover provided by coral reefs during the day, and expand their range to seagrass beds at night. The schoolmaster is sometimes called the barred snapper or the caji. Like other snapper species, it is a popular food fish.
It lives in shallow, clear, warm, coastal waters over coral reefs, sand with plants, and mud in mangrove areas or other reef-associated bottom types. Juveniles stay over sand bottoms with or without seagrasses, and over muddy bottoms of lagoons or mangrove areas. The young tend to be in littoral (shore) areas, grass plains and from time to time enter briny waters. They may be seen resting in accumulations during the day. The groups of juveniles in shallow coastal waters, as they grow, move into deeper and deeper water. Large schools are often noticed by divers over shallow wrecks and certain coral patches, and this behavior inspired the common name.
Adults usually stay near shore at depths ranging from 0 to 200 ft (2-60 m) and shelter around elkhorn and gorgonian coral. Large adults are sometimes found on the continental shelf. Typical depths are up to 12 ft (4 m). At night, schoolmasters may increase their range to twice the daytime range, mostly by visiting seagrass beds.
I am off to play with the submersible, have a great day all!
Jun 25, 14 Comments Off
Good morning friends, sorry about the NO blog yesterday but it’s been crazy around here! First off Carole Baldwin (Worlds top fish expert) arrived again from the Smithsonian Institution and was kind enough to bring us down stuff we needed from the States like our favorite coffee from “Dark Canyon Coffee Company” in Rapid City, SD. I have a link to this magical place on the left side of our home page so you to can see what all the fuss is about. We LOVE the blend called “Highlander Groog”. If you ever want to get us something we will love, that is it! Our friend Lori that owns the company has been keeping Aimee and I in coffee wonderfulness for years now and like I told her the other day, every cup is a memory link back to our times in Rapid, a city filled with great memories! So thanks again Lori for sending that to Carole.
Also as many of know my new carbon 27.5 SCOTT (mountain bike) arrived from Florida Sunday evening and yesterday I finally got it back from the bike shop all set-up and ready to go. I haven’t even ridden it yet except in Tucson where I fell instantly in love with it! The bike weighs around 24 pounds and costs about $6000, I will be finally taking it out this afternoon on a ride with Dorian and can hardly wait!
So back to Carole Baldwin and why we had no blog yesterday. Carole jumped into the “Curasub” submersible with our owner Dutch tuesday and went down in search of new fish species for around 5 hours. The sub can stay down at a depth of 1000 feet for up to 8 hours on a single charge. I wasn’t around when they returned but did end up seeing a bunch of their live finds yesterday morning in the deep-water aquariums we have set up in a special area closed to visitors. I ended up spending most of my day in the cold lab photographing deep-sea fish and some beautiful invertebrates like the rare slit-shells that every collector in the world would love to own. Carole is currently concentrating her efforts on deep-sea fish species like the sea robins, golden bass and a few gobies, she says there will be many new species announced in the near future. Above is one of these many new species that has already been announced and has been named after the owners daughter Nikki. This is a tiny one inch, super beautiful fish called a Saber Goby, Antilligobius nikkiae. These are found in the 300-400 foot range and are usually seen congregating in schools unlike other fish that like to be on their own like the golden bass for instance. This one here along with a few others was collected by the sub alive about a week ago and brought up slowly by divers which took about six days. I love this little fish, not only are they colorful but they have a super tall dorsal fin that seems to get even taller with age, this one here pictured is a younger juvenile. I spent hours in the lab trying to get this photo yesterday, you have no idea how difficult it is to get a fish to park where you want them to, it could be close to the most frustrating thing I have ever done! I also photographed two baby slit-shells yesterday as well and will send that to you tomorrow, talk about beautiful!
Our island continues to be bone dry, no rain at all and we think this could be the worst conditions we have seen since living here. Stijn gave me hundreds of fallen mango’s from his tree last night and those we are taking out this morning to the trail to feed to the animals like the starving iguana’s. Aimee brought home a wounded parakeet that got hit by a car yesterday with a broken wing. She took it to an animal hospital and I think if they can fix it we will take the bird back to watch it here at the house during it’s recovery, I will keep you posted.
Well, I am off to work and to hopefully spend some time with Carole, I love picking her brain about fish. If any of you have any questions for Carole get them into me today at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will ask her directly for you, she is a walking fish encyclopedia!
Have a wonderful day!
Jun 16, 14 Comments Off
Good morning friends, how was your weekend??? As you know mine was short this week as we all had to work on Saturday. And YES, I know most of you wouldn’t even call what I do work, i.e. diving on a beautiful reef taking underwater photos of people riding in a two million dollar submersible, once again someone has to do it! I did start working on the mountain bike/hiking trails again Saturday evening and Sunday morning as we just had a big race out there and now they are a mess and you already know that nobody else will do right? The local terrain here is very loose rock, sand and powdery dirt and needs constant cleaning or the trails become very difficult and dangerous to ride.
We did a tiny bit of rain this morning for the first time in months so whoever has been doing the rain-dance please keep it up!!
I had a few people asking about our lionfish problem and if it’s gotten better or worse?? That’s a good question and I wish I had a something super positive to tell you but from what I am seeing on my dives is, they are always there! Many folks here in Curacao are still hunting them and selling them to the restaurants for food and many of the local dive shops are spearing them to help keep the numbers down but really are we doing any good at all?? The Smithsonian Institution has been collecting these fish at depth, (with our submersible) at 250-500 feet and bringing them up immediately to check their stomach contents. So far we have not seen their bellies full like the rumors are stating but they could just have a fast digestive system or be only eating at night, so maybe we need to catch them earlier in the evenings? A few days ago when I was down photographing the submersible I saw quite a few and some were pretty big, I guess I need to get by buddy Stijn to come back over for another lionfish dive. When we are out hunting them we usually feed them to the spotted morays who absolutely love them and will eat them non stop, the same can not be said for the giant green morays who don’t seem to like them unless you cut them up into pieces for them. I think it’s important to just keep their numbers down which is easily done by each dive shop keeping their own house reefs clean, I mean we all know it’s an impossible task on our North coast where the numbers are much higher and the fish are impossible to get to.
Off to the sea for me, have a wonderful day!
May 30, 14 Comments Off
Good afternoon folks. I have been so busy ever since returning from Peru that I can’t seem to get caught up?? Upon our return I made the mistake of writing down a major “to-do” list on our erasable board in the bathroom and have been trying hard to get these items done or at least started. Most of my tasks revolve around the camera meaning I have new photos to take for Ikelite, thousands of Peru photos to get out to our editor, key-wording existing photos from underwater, I need new blue-light photos, I have to send my camera to the States for repair and on and on, it can get a bit overwhelming at times! Yesterday was another holiday here in Curacao and today (Friday) we had a submersible dive at 9:15am so there is zero grass growing under these feet! Tomorrow I will try to leave at O-Dark thirty and get in a 3-4 hour mountain bike ride but if the wind is like it is now that may be a long ride! My new carbon fiber 27.5 Scott racing bike arrived in Florida yesterday and a friend will bring it here in a few weeks, I can hardly wait! As of my last post we have had a tiny bit of rain but not enough to really water anything, we are all still waiting for some real moisture!
I have a very tame, very used to people, school of Gray Snappers or Mangrove Snappers for you all today from under the pier at Buddy Dive in Bonaire.
The mangrove snapper or gray snapper, Lutjanus griseus, is a species of snapper native to the western Atlantic Ocean from Massachusetts to Brazil, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean Sea. They can be found in a wide variety of habitats, including brackish and fresh waters. It is commercially important, as well as being sought as a game fish. Its color is typically greyish red, but it can change color from bright red to copper red. It has a dark stripe running across its eye if observed from the top when it is under water. This species can reach a length of 89 cm (35 in), though most do not exceed 40 cm (16 in). The greatest recorded weight for this species is 20 kg (44 lb).
The mangrove snapper can be confused with the Cubera snapper or black snapper, Lutjanus cyanopterus. Mangrove snapper are typically much smaller than Cubera, but when they are of similar size, the two species can only be distinguished by examining the tooth patch on the inside roof of the mouth. Many specimens caught in Florida, specifically Punta Gorda, are actually misidentified dogtooth or dog snapper, Lutjanus jocu. The best way to distinguish between the two species is dog snapper has a lighter triangle of color with a blue band under the eye and large, sharp fangs in the front (canines), hence its common name. These fangs can deliver a painful bite, even in a small fish. The mangrove snapper feeds mostly on small fishes and crustaceans.
The mangrove snapper is one of the most common species of snapper in warmer regions. It can be found in many areas from canals to grass flats, as well as in open water. Most mangrove snapper in the open water are generally found near bottom structure or reefs. They can be found at depths from 5 to 180 m (16 to 591 ft) though are mostly found at less than 50 m (160 ft).
I have to run, hope all is well out there!!
Have a great weekend-Barry
May 27, 14 Comments Off
Good morning gang, I have been so busy lately! Aimee and I are headed to the local Curacao post office this morning and talk to them about having stamps made from our deep-water fish that the Smithsonian has found, how cool would that be??
I got in a fast paced 2 hour bike ride last night and came home covered in dust! The island is so dry it’s unreal, I don’t think we have ever seen it so dry this early in the year!
Here is a beautiful school of Black Margates that we found in around 45 feet of water at 1000 Steps in Bonaire a while back.
The Black Margate, Anisotremus surinamensis, is a species of grunt native to the Western Atlantic Ocean from Florida and the Bahamas to Brazil and throughout the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. It can be found at depths from 0 to 20 m (0 to 66 ft), preferring steeply sloping rocky bottoms or reefs with nearby areas for shelter. This species can reach 76 cm (30 in), though most do not exceed 45 cm (18 in). The maximum recorded weight for this species is 5.8 kg (13 lb). It is important to commercial fisheries as a food fish and is popular in public aquariums.
Also known as Grunts, Dogfish, Black Thick-lip, Surf Bream and Black Bream, species name, Sweetlips (Haemulidae.
Sweetlips are usually found either singly or in groups hovering over the reef during the day. They are nocturnal predators feeding on fish and benthic crustaceans.
In some areas sweetlips are known as “Grunts” because they “grunt”, the grunting sound is produced by their flat teeth plates rubbing together and this is amplified by their air bladders.
Sweetlips can be distinguished from other species by their very large rubbery lips.
Very busy these days working on the thousands of photos we shot in Peru, will eventually get more posted and I hope to get a fun slide-show together for all to see.
Have a wonderful day!
May 25, 14 Comments Off
Good morning friends, If your out and about you may want to pick up the new June/July issue of RANGER RICK featuring one of my “pet” Porcupinefish’s that resides out in front of the Substation on a daily basis. This particular photo was taken back in April of 2013 but he’s still out there because I saw him on Friday. Here is the actual link to that older post showing the original photo I had sent out. http://www.coralreefphotos.com/porcupinefish-giant-pufferfish-boxfishes/ For those of you with kids Ranger rick is by far one of the hands down most educational magazines on the planet and you and your kids will love it. Here is the link for your subscription. http://www.nwf.org/kids/ranger-rick.aspx
Porcupinefish are fishes of the family Diodontidae, (order Tetraodontiformes), also commonly called blowfish (and, sometimes, balloonfish and globefish). They are sometimes collectively (but erroneously) called pufferfish, not to be confused with the morphologically similar and closely related Tetraodontidae, which are more commonly given this name.
Porcupinefish are medium- to large-sized fish, and are found in shallow temperate and tropical seas worldwide. A few species are found much further out from shore, wherein large schools of thousands of individuals can occur. They are generally slow.
Porcupinefish have the ability to inflate their bodies by swallowing water or air, thereby becoming rounder. This increase in size (almost double vertically) reduces the range of potential predators to those with much bigger mouths. A second defense mechanism is provided by the sharp spines, which radiate outwards when the fish is inflated.
Some species are poisonous, having a tetrodotoxin in their internal organs, such as the ovaries and liver. This neurotoxin is at least 1200 times more potent than cyanide. The poison is produced by several types of bacteria obtained from the fish’s diet. As a result of these three defenses, porcupinefish have few predators, although adults are sometimes preyed upon by sharks and killer whales. Juveniles are also preyed on by tuna and dolphins.
So how was your weekend?? Is it finally warming up out there?? I know many of you have been locked in cold weather for so many months and are praying for summer!!! My weekend was filled with mountain biking, trail work and sitting at the computer and like always it went by way too fast!!
We have two submersible dives today the 1st starting at around 9:15 and the next around 11:15, check out www.seesubmarine.com
Have to run, Barry
May 23, 14 Comments Off
Hi gang, sorry I have been so busy I forgot to label this photo for you all! This is my favorite fish in the sea called a Smooth Trunkfish or Rhinesomus triqueter.
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.
May 16, 14 Comments Off
Good morning all, remember back in January when I took off to the States to help test all the new mountain bikes for Outside Magazine?? Well the video I shot was finally released yesterday and I have it here for you to enjoy this morning. This is an annual event that is held in Tucson, Arizona and not only does one get to ride $12,000 bikes around, you get to ride with some of the best riders on the planet, talk about a blast!!
So, as you can imagine being back and trying to get into the groove of things is not as easy as we had hoped but slowly and surely we are trying, we just miss Peru!! I already started going through my thousands of images and picking out the best which will all go to our editor in Arizona and then eventually be for sale, so if you see something you like, please let me know. Aimee finally got all her Peruvian treasures unpacked, she bought beautiful blankets, hats of all kinds, scarfs, purses, gloves, belts, 3-alpaca stuffed animals and on and on, our house looks very colorful right now!
I have a close-up shot of a banded Butterflyfish for you all today. These are one of the more common fish on the reef and usually always seen in pairs.
Oh yeah, I updated the post from yesterday. I had forgotten that Aimee took photos of all the information plates under each item after I photographed them, talk about team work!
Have a wonderful day,
Apr 15, 14 Comments Off
Hey gang, sorry so late today, I had to go get my new island ID card called a sedula this morning and that took longer than expected. We used to have to get these cards every year but now that we have been here so long we only need to renew them now every 3 years.
Our island remains locked in wind and no rain, it is soooo dry!! Because of these conditions we continue to take water out to the desert for the birds each morning and by late afternoon it’s usually gone! We have a big black backpack that holds around 4-half gallon jugs plus we hand carry another a larger 2-gallon jug plus seed and fill our three bird baths. Yes, you could say it’s a lot of work but the reward is high, the birds and animals are loving it! Other folks are starting to bring scraps of vegetables or fruits and or friend Bill is now helping us out with the seed, it’s great to be able to do something!
I also bring home any hermit crabs I find with bad shells and offer them a new home of their choice once back at the house. This is easily done by placing them in with an assortment of empty shells and usually within minutes they will leave the old nasty one and upgrade into a better model. Hey crabs are smart, if they have the opportunity to move into a better home they sure will! So then after a night of food and water, we take them back out to where we found them and let them go, except now they have a better home to carry.
Our four baby Red Footed tortoises spent their first night outside in their new turtle habitat and I have to say, I worried about them all night. In the morning I rushed outside, lifted the roof area and found them all buried in the dirt inside one of the two caves, so all is good.
We will be very busy this week getting last minute stuff done for our trip to Peru which is now just under a week away. I went and bought all kinds of toys like Hot wheels, puzzles, necklaces and fun socks for us to give to the kids, it will be Christmas in April!
I had a request for a photo showing the beak of a parrotfish and found this one that I took a few days ago.
Have a great rest of the day!!
Apr 11, 14 Comments Off
Good morning friends, it’s finally Friday!! Aimee and I have been super busy getting stuff ready for our Peru trip which is now less than 2 weeks away! We are having friends stay at the house who will look after the dogs and turtles and continue to put water out for the birds in the desert on a daily basis as the island is dry beyond belief!! The wind is blowing so hard these days making the diving and mountain biking not so fun, I really wish it would calm down a bit!
This is one of our large resident Peacock Flounders laying on a giant boulder right out in front of our little submersible lagoon. I always get a kick out of watching other divers or friends swim right over him and they never see it laying there, he is the king of camouflage! I have noticed that over time this flounder has gotten very used to me swimming over him and now instead of swimming off he will just lay there with his body still and only his eyes moving, each in different directions!! This flounder is around 18 inches in length and can change colors in the blink of an eye, talk about a fantastic animal!!
The peacock flounder is also called flowery flounder because it is covered in superficially flower-like bluish spots. As suggested by the family name, lefteye flounders have both eyes on top of the left hand side of their heads. The eyes are raised up on short stumps like radar dishes, and can move in any direction independent of each other. That feature provides flounders with a wide range of view. One eye can look forward while the other looks backward at the same time. The baby flounders have one eye on each side of their bodies like ordinary fish, and swim like other fishes do, but later on, as they are becoming adult, the right eye moves to the left side, and flounders start to swim sideways, which gives them the ability to settle down flat on the bottom. The maximum length of this flounder is about 45 centimetres (18 in).
Peacock flounders are mostly found in shallow water on sandy bottoms. Sometimes they rest over piles of dead corals or bare rock. They may be found as deep as 150 meters (490 ft).
As most flounders, the peacock flounder is mainly nocturnal,but is sometimes also active during the day. It hunts for small fishes, crabs and shrimps.
Like all flounders, peacock flounders are masters of camouflage. They use cryptic coloration to avoid being detected by both prey and predators. Whenever possible rather than swim they crawl on their fins along the bottom while constantly changing colors and patterns. In a study, peacock flounders demonstrated the ability to change colors in just eight seconds. They were even able to match the pattern of a checkerboard they were placed on. The changing of the colors is an extremely complex and not well understood process. It involves the flounder’s vision and hormones. The flounders match the colors of the surface by releasing different pigments to the surface of the skin cells while leaving some of the cells white by suppressing those pigments. If one of the flounder’s eyes is damaged or covered by sand, the flounders have difficulties in matching their colors to their surroundings. Whenever hunting or hiding from predators, the flounders bury themselves into the sand leaving only the eyes protruding.
I’m off on a 4-hour mountain bike ride in the morning and pray the winds chill out a bit or my 4 hour ride may turn into 5! Have a great weekend!!
Apr 3, 14 Comments Off
Good morning guys and gals, we are super busy here at Substation Curacao today and I just finished my first of two dives. On my way back I ran into our little 6-foot long green buddy (above) and it kind of caught me off guard! This giant lives here in our little lagoon but I rarely see him out swimming during the day like he was here, maybe he was coming back from a long night out on the reef, who knows!! I got off a few shots and then he took off down into the darkness of the reef.
Moray eels are cosmopolitan eels of the family Muraenidae. The approximately 200 species in 15 genera are almost exclusively marine, but several species are regularly seen in brackish water, and a few, for example the freshwater moray (Gymnothorax polyuranodon), can sometimes be found in fresh water. With a maximum length of 11.5 cm (4.5 in), the smallest moray is likely Snyder’s moray (Anarchias leucurus),while the longest species, the slender giant moray (Strophidon sathete) reaches up to 4 m (13 ft). The largest in terms of total mass is the giant moray (Gymnothorax javanicus), which reaches 3 m (9.8 ft) in length and 30 kg (66 lb) in weight.
Reef-associated roving coralgroupers (Plectropomus pessuliferus) have been observed to recruit morays to join them in hunting for food. The invitation to hunt is initiated by head-shaking. The rationale for this joining of forces is the ability of morays to enter narrow crevices and flush prey from niches not accessible to groupers. This is the only known instance of interspecies cooperative hunting among fish. Cooperation on other levels, such as at cleaning stations, is well-known.
Morays are frequently thought of as particularly vicious or ill-tempered animals. In truth, morays hide from humans in crevices and would rather flee than fight. They are shy and secretive, and attack humans only in self defense or mistaken identity. Most attacks stem from disruption of a moray’s burrow (to which they do react strongly), but an increasing number also occur during hand feeding of morays by divers, an activity often used by dive companies to attract tourists. Morays have poor vision and rely mostly on their acute sense of smell, making distinguishing between fingers and held food difficult; numerous divers have lost fingers while attempting hand feedings, so the hand feeding of moray eels has been banned in some locations, including the Great Barrier Reef. The moray’s rear-hooked teeth and primitive but strong bite mechanism also makes bites on humans more severe, as the eel cannot release its grip, even in death, and must be manually pried off. While the majority are not believed to be venomous, circumstantial evidence suggests a few species may be.
Eels that have eaten certain types of toxic algae, or more frequently that have eaten fish that have eaten some of these algae, can cause ciguatera fish poisoning if eaten. The evolutionary advantages created by their elongated bodies are unknown.
Back to the water, see you soon!!