Avid outdoorsman and underwater photographer, Barry Brown has spent the last seven years documenting life above and below water in Curacao, Netherlands Antilles. Focusing on the island's coral reefs, he has worked hand-in-hand with several businesses and environmental groups, including SECORE, a marine conservation organization based in the Netherlands. His image of a research submersible was recently featured on the cover of DIVER magazine.
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Archive for the ‘Bony Fish’
Sep 23, 13 Comments Off
Good morning all, how was your weekend?? As promised weeks ago, I have a rarely seen, pelagic baby flounder for you all day, talk about cool!! This was discovered by the Smithsonian using a state of the art “light trap” that was placed out in the ocean and left there overnight. For those of you wondering what a light trap is, it’s a long floating net with very fine mesh with a waterproof light attached to one end. Light traps float at the surface and attract new-born pelagic fish and creatures and really without a device like this scientists would never know what baby fish look like. So the evening we were parked at Playa Forti with the “Chapman Research Vessel” and our mini-submersible called the “Curasub” Carole Baldwin of the Smithsonian took the light trap out and tied it to a floating buoy which was about 100 feet above the reef. The next morning I was one of the first awake and saw the light trap way out at the edge of the reef with the light still on and wondered what was inside?? As soon as Carole woke she jumped in our small boat and took off to collect the trap which only took a few minutes. Inside was this beautiful, one inch translucent flounder as you see above and without the black background that I placed under him you would have never seen it, I tell you he was almost invisible!! The blueish color you see on his body was not visble to the naked eye, this was brought out by the flashes, cool huh?? Along with this flounder, there was also a see-thru pelagic shrimp, a pelagic flying gurnard, lots of baby sharpnose puffers (which I set free) and many assorted pelagic reef fish but I did not get photos of everything. For the flounder I took him up to my room on the ship and photographed him on a piece of glass that was submerged in an 8th inch of water. I then slid a piece of black velvet under that and shot away, the hardest thing was getting him to sit still, if he moved I couldn’t find him, he was that translucent!!
Peacock flounders swim close to shore in the late winter and early spring to breed. The females lay two to three million eggs each year. After the females lay the eggs, the males fertilize them. Flounders are pelagic spawners, which means they gather in groups in areas where the fertilized eggs will be taken by the currents. The eggs float in the epipelagic zone or the zone in the open ocean near the surface. The fertilized eggs float, but as the young develop, the eggs sink. It takes 15 days for the eggs to hatch. For the next four to six months, the larvae or the newly hatched fish float free in the pelagic or open ocean environment. The larvae may even float hundreds of miles from where they were laid. It’s during this time that the eye on the right side of the body begins to move so that both eyes settle on the left side.
The peacock flounder changes its color and the pattern on its skin to exactly match the sea floor. One of the eyes recognizes the pattern of its surroundings. If this eye is covered by sand, the peacock flounder can’t camouflage itself. Each eye can move independently, seeing forward and back at the same timePeacock flounders are covered in spots. The dorsal or back side is trimmed in dark flower-like spots on the dorsal surface that have blue borders. Because of their spots, the peacock flounder is also called the flower flounder. This flounder can be 20 inches (50 cm) long.
The eyes stick up from just the dorsal side of the body and there is a wide space between them. One of the eyes is closer to the mouth than the other. The eyes are raised up on short stumps to give the peacock flounder a good view of its surroundings from the ocean floor. Each eye moves on its own, meaning each one can look in one direction while the other looks in the other direction. This not only helps the flounder watch out for predators, but it also helps the flounder look for a quick snack.
Like other animals, a baby flounder has an eye on each side of its face. But as the fish grows, one eye moves until both eyes sit together on the same side of its head. The mouth doesn’t move though, giving this fish a crooked-looking face. Flounders even swim upright like most other fish until they mature. Then flounders swim sideways, making it easier to lay flat on the bottom.
The side of the body that is left eyeless doesn’t ever get the coloration of the wildly patterned and colored topside. It is a uniform tan colorIn shallow waters, peacock flounders live on sandy bottoms of coastal coral reefs and lagoons. Sometimes, these fish take a break on smooth rocks. This flounder will even bury itself under the sand, leaving only its eyes sticking out from the sand.
I raced in the Dutch Championships on Sunday but sadly did not finish!! This was a 5 lap, 20 mile race that started at 8:00 and I was still going at 9:30 and man was it HOT!? I did well the first three laps and had the winner in sight, but on lap number four crashed into a big rock and landed in a cactus all thanks to a novice ridder in front of me who was unable to stay on his bike on a sharp corner. Stijn ended up winning and I can’t even tell you how proud we all are of him, this was a hard race!! I had ice on my elbow all day and in the evening Aimee helped dig thorn after thorn out of my arm, boy is it swollen today!!
Have a great week all, Barry
Sep 20, 13 Comments Off
Good morning from Curacao!! Sorry about my tardiness again today, there is again just way too much going on!! I ripped my rear derailleur off my mountain bike on Tuesdays ride with the boys and have been trying hard to get the bike fixed. My normal bike mechanic is on vacation so today at 2:00 I will take it over to Stijn at Vista Bike and hopefully get my machine running again before the weekend! There is a race on Saturday but not sure if I will be joining or not due to the bike problems and very little training this week.
I have another Lionfish photo for you all today that I snapped at 125 feet out in front of our very own Substation. It’s hard to believe that such a beautiful creature has caused so much chaos around the Caribbean and there seems to be no end in sight!! On our last night dive we saw at least a dozen and those were just the ones in our direct path, imagine if you went out and only looked for them how many you would find?? As I have said before these fish are eating machines and unfortunately have bottomless stomaches! The single greatest threat to them being here in the Caribbean is that they consume large amounts of baby fish and no baby fish means, no big fish!!
Sorry so short, it’s very quiet here this week!!
Hope you are all well out there, Barry
Sep 10, 13 Comments Off
Good evening from Curacao!!! I found another big beautiful Peacock Flounder today and couldn’t resist sending him out to you all. This is our resident flounder who is always laying on the same rocks when I go out to shoot the submersible. 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.
Tomorrow we have Jack Hannah with us all day!! Fun, fun, fun!!
Be well, Barry
Aug 28, 13 Comments Off
Good evening readers, I have a delicious fried lionfish for your viewing pleasure tonight and I figured since we are on the topic AGAIN why not share with you the top 5 myths about lionfish, compliments of our friends at National Geographic.
Myth #1: Lionfish are poisonous.
Truth: Lionfish are venomous, not poisonous– there is a difference. Although both venomous and poisonous animals produce a toxin that can be harmful to other organisms, the method of delivery is different. Venomous organisms use a specific apparatus like spines or teeth to inject their toxin. Poisonous organisms, on the other hand, require their victim to ingest or absorb the toxin. Lionfish possess venomous dorsal, pelvic, and anal spines that deliver toxin through an unpleasant puncture wound. Each spine is surrounded by a loose sheath that is pushed down during envonemation, compressing two venom glands located down then length of the spine. Neurotoxic venom then travels through two parallel grooves up the spine and into an unhappy victim. On the bright side, this means that as long as you stay away from the spines, you’re good to go!
Myth #2: Lionfish were released in the Atlantic when an aquarium flooded during Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
Truth: Lionfish were first spotted near Dania, Florida in 1985, years before Hurricane Andrew. The initial source of the invasion can be pinpointed to personal aquarium releases, probably by people who’s lionfish were getting too big for the tank or eating the other fish. A recent study suggests that the invasion can be narrowed to just eight or twelve individuals who interbred. Over time, larvae dispersed up the east coast of the United States and the Caribbean through oceanic currents, bringing the lionfish invasion to its current size and severity.
Myth #3: Predators can be trained to hunt lionfish on their own.
Truth: There have been numerous instances of predators such as sharks, eels, and grouper feasting on lionfish – but typically only after a diver has offered the lionfish to them first. This raises concerns due to the inherent risks involved with teaching wild animals to see humans and expect a free meal. There have even been reports of sharks, eels, and barracuda becoming aggressive towards lionfish hunters in anticipation of handouts. Additionally, a recently released study that examined lionfish/predator abundance throughout the Caribbean over the course of three years determined that there was no correlation between native predator densities and lionfish densities, suggesting that native predators do not influence the successful invasion of lionfish. As great as it would be to have native predators feasting on these invaders, it looks like humans are really the only true lionfish predators in their invasive territory.
Myth #4: You can’t eat lionfish.
Truth: Because lionfish are venomous, not poisonous (see above!), there is no harm in eating the lionfish meat. Once you dispose of the spines, there is no risk of envenomation, and you’re free to prepare your lionfish as you choose. Fortunately for the eco-friendly fish lovers out there, lionfish are delicious. Their white, buttery meat lends itself to any number of different recipes. In fact, there are many restaurants throughout the Caribbean and southern United States that are featuring lionfish on their menus to promote awareness while satisfying customers. Check out last week’s blog post for a few of my favorite lionfish recipes.
Myth #5: There’s nothing we can do.
Truth: They may be excellent invaders, but locals throughout the non-native range have developed some pretty ingenious solutions—and it’s working. Dive operations remove lionfish regularly, meaning you’ll be hard pressed to find lionfish on most of the popular dive sites. Lionfish derbies, or fishing competitions that award prizes for the largest, smallest, and most lionfish captured, are becoming more popular and are an excellent way to clean the reef and spread awareness. From 2009-2012, derbies run by the Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF) removed a grand total 0f 10,231 lionfish, and that number is rising. Additionally, a mini-industry has arisen around these spiny invaders as individuals develop increasingly more effective tools for removal. Although many researchers agree that complete eradication of lionfish is impossible, there are certainly ways to keep the population in check and protect the native marine ecosystems of the Western Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean.
I also found these two cool links below for you!
Watch a video on Lionfish preperation, http://www.deathtolionfish.org/recipes.html or try one of these tasty recipes, http://www.lionfishhunter.com/lionfish-recipes.html
Have a wonderful day tomorrow, Barry
Aug 27, 13 Comments Off
Hi gang, yesterday after doing three dives with the submersible and clients I came home as tired as a man can be and I didn’t even have the energy to go riding! For the past few days I have done a bunch of deep-dives and we have all been fighting some heavy current, this a many of my fellow divers know can really wipe a person out! Then on top of all of that throw in some blistering hot sun and crazy humidity and you will feel just like I do this morning, drained and in need of coffee!
My intern Laila is leaving back to Germany this weekend so I only have a few more days to teach her as much as I can about general photography. She seems to enjoy photographing people the most so everyday I tried to arrange for her to shoot a different person, will be great for her portfolio.
That’s about it other than this large school of Blue Tangs we saw when out diving with Jeff Corwin on Monday and for once I had the right lens!
Sorry short, have a great day, Barry
Aug 7, 13 Comments Off
Hello gang, is this week flying by or what??? The scientists from the Smithsonian continue to be our major focus at Substation this week. One of their many goals this week has been to find and collect the different species of Golden Basslets and a certain species of deep water Wrasses. They said; it’s looking like there may be more than one species in these groups based on previous collected specimens. We also took these black boxes/traps down to different depths last year and next week we will be bringing those up as well to see what has moved inside. These containers are about the size of a plastic milk crate and will only catch tiny things like worms, little crabs etc.. and then new boxes will be put out as well for another year with the deepest down to 1000 foot. I told you about the weird looking flounder they had found at 750 feet on Monday, well Tuesday they found another cool looking species of flounder at 850 feet and yesterday Wednesday they brought up a new Squirrelfish that has never been recorded, if and when I get permission I will post some photos. Next week Wednesday we will be taking the sub back to our small island of Klein Curacao with the Smithsonian and doing a full day of exploring there again. I will again prepare while they are gone by setting up my aquariums so I can quickly photograph anything new and cool they find, so stay tuned.
The crazy winds are gone, but now it’s too still, I guess it’s a case of be careful what you ask for around here!! Without some wind on this hot, tropical island, life would be very difficult!! I did a solo hour and a half mountain bike ride last night that turned out to be very uneventful!! My ride took me from the Sea Aquarium over to the salt pond at Jan Thiel. This is the area where I ride by the flamingoes and usually stop to check out the newly formed salt crystals that grow around the edge of the pond as the water level decreases.
Not much else for you all today other than a very curious French Angelfish that swam right up to me to see what I was doing, talk about a curious reef fish!!!
Off to the aquarium to shoot a sargassum frogfish they found yesterday floating by out front, if I get a photo I will send it tomoroow.
See ya, Barry
Jul 31, 13 Comments Off
Hi friends, sorry about the late start but here we go!! So what I have for you today is three pictures showing the amazing way fish can change colors. Yeah I know it sounds weird, fish changing colors?? But it’s so true and it’s such a cool thing to see. Most of you already know that octopus and squids have the ability to change colors in the blink of an eye but many folks don’t know that fish are capable of the same thing. Above is a baby lizardfish, around two inches in length I found laying on the sand at around 40 feet and as you can see he is a fairly light color. These fish believe they are well camouflaged and think you can not see them, this is why they will remain motionless unless disturbed and why a photographer can get in very close. With that said, the second I took the photo he blasted off like a rocket in a cloud of sandy dust as my double-flashes scared him to death! I then had to look for him all over again which wasn’t an easy task as he had moved about three feet away from his initial spot. Once I found him the second time I again moved in very slowly for the kill and again once the flashes fired he was gone and this time went much farther away and was even harder to find again. Each time he moved and stopped he got darker and darker, it’s such a cool thing that fish can do! I mean heck it takes days or even weeks for us to get a tan but these animals change colors in just seconds! So once I found him for the third time I knew the trust factor was gone and this last shot was going to be hard and I was right. No sooner did I shoot the last photo and he just vanished!! I looked and looked but apparently he had enough and wasn’t going to let me scare him a 4th time with my flashes. Many times on the reef you will see these fish laying in the sand and they are even a lighter color then the top photo, they really can blend in! These are also some of the top predators on our reef and can move at speeds other fish just dream about, it’s a case of, “now you see the lizardfish, now you don’t”!!
Had another great mountain bike ride last night with our sub pilot Bruce who recently got his bike stolen but found enough parts to build an even better one. There is a time-trial here on Thursday that I might enter, it’s one lap of the worst, most difficult, technical riding we have, it’s just what I love!!
Better get moving, see you soon, Barry
Jul 26, 13 Comments Off
Good morning Earth people, it’s finally Friday!!! I pretty much wore myself out yesterday with two deep dives and a mountain bike ride in the evening, biking and diving do not mix!! Stijn leaves tonight for the island of Aruba where he will be representing Curacao in the Caribbean Cycling Championships! He will have a time trial on saturday and the big race on Sunday, he is gonna kick some butts!
This is my pet porcupinefish of sorts that lives out in front of the Substation and is always there to greet me with a smile as I enter the reef on any given day!!
Porcupine fish are part of a family of fish that are called Diodontidae, and are quite often more commonly called the puffer-fish, or the blow fish. They are not in reality puffer-fish, but are related to them. The Porcupine fish sports on its body a wide array of spines that stand erect when the fish inflates and are very often mistaken for puffer-fish. The Porcupine fish has the unique ability of being a fish that can blow up their bodies, or inflate them. They do this by swallowing air or water and will become literally as rounds as a basket ball. The porcupine fish can enlarge himself almost double the size that he was. Scientists think this is another method of self defense for the porcupine fish. He does this to lower the predators who can prey on him to about half what they normally would be if he did not have this ability. His second and probably best defense is that he bears many rows of very sharp spines, and when the porcupine fish blows himself up to full volume, they become erect, and stand straight up and out. Some species of Porcupine fish also bear a venom, or poison that is emitted from the spines. They have what is called a Tetrodoxin within the skin as well as or in addition to in their intestines which means you take your life into your own hands if you want to eat one and preparation should only be done by an expert. As a result of their great methods of self defense the porcupine fish has very few predators that will take them for food. Adult porcupine fish are sometimes a meal for larger fish such as the shark and the Orca, or whale, although this is only rare in occurrence. The younger or juvenile porcupine fish may sometimes be taken and eaten by larger tuna or by dolphins.
A few of my photos of our sub are on the front page of a newspaper in Holland this morning called the “de Volkskrant” (this means “the peoples paper”), you can see the photos above.
Have a great day and a wonderful weekend, Barry
Jul 22, 13 Comments Off
Good morning friends, I want to apologize again for the poor lack of communication as of late but I have been sooooo busy!! Yesterday I left the house at 6:20 in the morning and got in a nice fast-paced three hour mountain bike ride to our scenic North coast and back. After that I went shopping, then Stijn and I went diving, then we went to the beach and at 4:30 left with the dogs for another three hour adventure which included hiking and trail work. So to say I get the most out of every day here would be an understatement!! On Saturday I met a local artist and photographed a collection of wine bottles that had been painted by her students, your gonna love this fun shot! I am still waiting to photograph the kids painting the bottles which will take place place in two weeks, after that I will send you the story and pictures. During my free time, (yeah, that is funny) I have been diving and for the first time ever shooting video. I started out shooting with a 16mm lens and a small video light but the light didn’t show up at all so all my video’s are kind of one color tone, which I am not real fond of. On my second and third dive I used a 24mm lens but again the light didn’t light up anything so it’s back to square one?? Anyone out there know about how much light it will take to shoot wide angle scenes?? I am guessing a lot and a lot of $$$$$! What I did shoot is cool it just lacks the beautiful colors. On my Sunday dive with Stiyn we found a big hawksbill turtle and followed him for about a minute shooting video until he took off to the surface for air. Then later towards the end of the dive we found a big school of Caribbean reef squids but trying to get close to them is close to impossible but what a sight to see!!
Here is a colorful photo of a big school of Blue Tangs cruising through the reef. 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.
Busy Monday here today with lots of diving!!
Jul 16, 13 Comments Off
Hello gang, we are starting our Curacao Wednesday off with overcast skies and high winds which could interfere with our planned 1:00 dive. I did post a sad, “last photo” of how the grooved brain coral looks out on the reef today, dead as dead gets, here is the link, Coral Bleaching, Before and After Photos, Brain Coral (it’s the last photo).
Here is one of the hands down coolest and most sleek looking fish on the reef, it’s called the Scrawled Filefish or Aluterus scriptus. There are approximately 107 species of filefish found in the Atlantic, Pacific and the Indian Ocean, each very unique in it’s own way. The Scrawled Filefish seen here is the largest of all the know filefish species which can reach a length of 110 centimeters while most others are below 60 centimeters in length. 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 found this guy out on our reef the other day after shooting the sub and within seconds I was in hot pursuit. I find these fish are either very curious or they don’t want anything at all to do with you and like this one here, it was “catch me if you can humanoid”!!
I had an interesting mountain bike ride last night that started out with just wanting to go back home but then turned into an all out race!! It’s safe to say that if you build the trails you have an unfair advantage and boy oh boy what an advantage it was, I came home with a smile glued to my face!
I have to get ready to lead a reef dive with some friends that are visiting from the States and Holland, have a great day!!
I’m out, Barry
Jul 15, 13 Comments Off
Hi gang, our photo tonight is of a Honeycomb Cowfish, Acanthostracion polygonia just peacefully hanging out on the reef. These odd looking fish can change to shades of blue to green and yellow in a matter of seconds depending on their mood. If they feel they are in danger or if you move into their territory while they are courting they will change into this crazy electric blue-purple color, inflate their bodies and fins and race at full speed all around you, it’s such a crazy sight. These fish are easily identified by their two sharp spines above each eye and in front of the anal fin. These fish usually rely on their camouflage to blend into the reef but really, what kind of fish would mess with them anyways?? Most of the time they are extremely wary and remain motionless but when aware of detection quickly retreat. I have observed them eating algae from the sides of rocks or dead corals and occasionally we see them blowing air into the sand to uncover other little morsels of food like little crabs and such. At night is the best time to photograph these animals as they are either fast asleep or just waiting out the night in some very protected area.
So how was your Monday???? Mine started out with a fun reef dive in search of a certain crinoid I had seen days ago which I did find, but ended up spending most of my time parked in front of a giant sea-fan instead. I was passing this sea-fan when something very small moved and caught my eye. As I looked closer it was a tiny slender filefish that you would have never seen if it hadn’t moved and it was exactly the same color as the sea-fan, talk about cool! While shooting the filefish another tiny something moved and with closer examination I discovered it was some kind of see-thru goby or blenny and with this find ended up staying till my air was gone!
That’s all I have for today, it’s late and time for bed!
See you soon, Barry
Jul 11, 13 Comments Off
Hey, hey, remember me?? Sorry that I didn’t get around to posting on Friday but I ended up taking the day off and getting some much needed work done on my “honey do list”, and we all know the list I’m talking about! So before getting to work I first took the dogs out to Saint Joris for a fun two hour walk and of course I threw in a little trail maintenance while I was out there. On the way home we stopped and picked up Stijn who had just gotten back from a 10 day cruise around the Caribbean with his family and couldn’t stop talking about all the food that was aboard the ship, he said it was non-stop eating!! Once home we put the dogs to bed and proceeded to hang all the pictures that had been sitting in a big box waiting to be hung which took us about 6 hours as the walls here are all concrete!! At 5:00 I took off on a very hot, very dusty, hour and a half ride through the Curacao wilds, it was fun but very exhausting. So that was pretty much my Friday.
Saturday morning I went into work and later in the day went over to Stijn’s house where we have our driftwood pile stashed and pulled out a bunch of wood to build a new shelf unit for our bathroom. While there I couldn’t help but notice the yard was filled with rotting mangos and the smell was not nice!! This is mango season here now and they are literally covering the ground everywhere you look, one can only eat so many mangos!! Today we brought buckets of them back to my house and dumped them into the desert near our house for the iguanas, rabbits, lizards and birds, nothing will go to waste!
Today, Sunday, I left the house at 6:00am for my weekly 3 hour ride but 25 minutes into it had a major blow-out from an old rear tire and was covered in latex! I immediately called Aimee and she came to my rescue, I only had to walk about a mile to meet her. Later, I went and picked up Stijn again and we ended up working on my stupid bike for hours. The main problem was the new DT skewer was frozen inside the hub covered in salt and corrosion!! This is by far the worst thing about living in salt air and riding around and along the coast all the time, nothing escapes corrosion! We took the bike over to a top mechanic and he had to use a sledge hammer to get the skewer out??? Yeah, my poor bike! After all day of fighting with it and getting a new tire and new latex in I was ready to go and at 4:20 took off for a fast paced 2 hour ride around the salt pans and the bike worked great!
Above is a super cute Balloonfish, Diodon holocnthus that I found the other day on our Substation reef and just had to stop for a photo. These fish have so many different facial expressions, some look super grumpy or mean while others look lost or almost sad but my favorites like this here, have a beautiful smile!! Puffers have the unique ability to draw in water to greatly inflate their bodies as a defense. They have fused teeth and powerful jaws which are used to crush hard-shelled invertebrates. The skin of pufferfishes can be rough, granular in texture like shark-skin, or relatively smooth.
Hope you all had a wonderful weekend, Barry
Jul 10, 13 Comments Off
Hey gang, sorry so late today, way too much going on. First off I went for a dive and went in search of a Giant Sea Anemone that we could use as our main subject on a blue-light dive but believe it or not I never found one?? Yeah whats up with that?? My dive was suddenly cut short by what I thought were just a few pieces of trash floating in the water but as I collected them I almost chocked on my regulator as I saw what was coming! I kid you not when I say it looked like a cloud of jellyfish approaching and as I got closer you cold see they were plastic grocery store bags of every shape and color?? Man do I detest plastic bags and this was reason #1!!! I swam around for the next hour like there was no tomorrow trying my hardest to collect them all, it was one of the craziest things I had ever seen! I am guessing some ship dumped all their trash in the sea because Curacao no longer has these types of bags in their stores, we have to take our own bags shopping. I ended up collecting so many bags that I couldn’t carry another one back, it was insane! When I returned to shore and looked back out to sea you could still see bags all over the surface, talk about depressing!! This was a major case of “do the best you can do” and hope others will jump in and collect the rest.
A while back I had sent you a photo of a spotted moray eel and I told you this was the animal I fear most, well this is my second. I have watched these Lizardfish come out from under the sand at a million miles an hour and completely destroy a poor unsuspecting fish, I have never seen any creature underwater move that fast!! Fish-eating species are divided into two groups according to their hunting technique. The first is the “roving predators” like barracudas and the other as you see above is classified as the “lie in wait predators” which include frogfishes, lizardfishes and scorpionfish who ambush prey from concealed locations. Under normal circumstances reef fishes are virtually impossible to capture. However, a predators capture rate increases dramatically when it takes advantage of abnormal situations or is able to conceal itself into it’s surroundings. These lizardfish are masters of the ‘lie in wait” and can usually be found buried in the sand with just their scary eyes and razor sharp teeth showing, it’s so clever but so unfair!! They also have the ability to lighten or darken their skin like so many other fish giving them even more advantage over the rest. For you photographer this is an easy fish to photograph as long as you come in real slow, they truly believe you can’t see them and will stay still until your almost on top of them. If they swim off and they probably will, they will only go a short distance giving you many more opportunities for a great shot, so be patient.
Well, we have to walk the dogs, have a great remainder of the day!!
See ya, Barry
Jul 8, 13 Comments Off
Good morning all, I woke this morning to a big wrapped present and a delicious chocolate cake which was then followed by a short chorus of “Happy Birthday”, what a great way to start the day! What was in the present?? I am the proud recipient of a new BUNN coffee maker which she found on the island of St. Martin, our last one died months ago and they are not available here on Curacao.
So first off, here is a killer video you have to see about Seahorses, please take time to watch it. You can also watch this on www.reefs.com, this has become my new favorite place for all breaking news about our Worldwide reefs, check it out. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xXLu6vEyCBk&feature=player_embedded
You photo today is a Stoplight Parrotfish (bottom) and a Trumpetfish caught in a behavior called “Shadowing”. Trumpetfish are carnivores, feeding on small fish and invertebrates. While most of the fish trumpetfish eat are quite small, like gobies and blennies, they have been known to consume fish as large as smaller grunts and surgeonfish. Rather than using sheer speed or agility to catch prey, trumpetfish have developed several specialized feeding techniques. One is to camouflage themselves using their chromatophores vertically amongst sea whips or sea fans and either remain stationary or slowly drift with the current around the bases of these gorgonians. When a prey item presents itself, the fish opens its mouth wider than the diameter of its own body, facilitated by elastic mouth tissues, creating a vacuum that sucks the prey into the trumpetfishes mouth (flmnh.ufl.edu). Another specialized hunting technique involves the trumpetfish slowly swimming behind 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: 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. Various larger grouper, snapper, and moray eels are known predators of trumpetfish.
I am off to the sea for a fun dive, have a wonderful day!!
Jul 1, 13 Comments Off
Good morning fellow lovers of the sea, how was your weekend??? I had a crazy dive on Friday and almost flooded my camera again!! Yes, water in the housings is not uncommon, it’s the downside to underwater photography. I tell everyone, be alert and buy a $35 leak detector, the camera you save may be your own! On this particular dive, because of the crazy winds we had huge waves rolling into our entry/exit area and in order to get out onto the reef you had to swim under them. Sounds easy right? Well unfortunately there is only a meter (3 feet) between the rocks and the surface which means if you don’t time it just right you will get slammed into the rocks, which is what happened to me. I made it through the first two big waves but the third was much bigger and before I knew it I was being tossed around like a sock in the dryer and for a brief moment I couldn’t even tell which way was up! During this whole time I was holding onto my camera for dear life but when you can’t see anything but foam it’s kind of useless! I ended up slamming the camera into the rocks with all the force on the side of my dome port and remember thinking “nothing good will come from this”, I was right. Once through the shallow entry I finally popped out onto the reef and immediately was looking at my camera to get a damage report but other than the obvious ding in the side of the port everything else looked good and the leak detector was not flashing!! So after about two minutes of watching the camera I decided that everything is alright and took off out to deeper water in search of something to photograph. The first thing I saw was this beautiful Stoplight Parrotfish (above) feeding not on the reef but high in the water column, kind of a strange thing for these fish who spend all day scraping algae off rocks. I immediately swam up off the reef and got one shot off as the fish darted back down to the safety of the reef. As I went to preview the photo I noticed my leak detector was now flashing and let me tell you this is something we underwater photographers fear the most!! We are taught as divers never to “panic” but when you see drops of water entering your $3000 camera it can make one swim very fast and that is what I did!! I watched as water was coming in through the dome but thankfully it was just a tiny bit at a time so I kicked those fins into overtime and made a dash for the exit! I think it took me about three minutes to get back and thank goodness I had a strong current behind me but I still had to get through that entry/exit area again. When I got to the exit the waves overhead were still rolling in hard and at times I couldn’t see the hole I had to go through, I was not happy to say the least! So with a silent countdown and just plain guessing about the waves overhead I swam into the exit area with everything I had and just by chance timed it perfectly!! I think I set a new record for climbing the entry/exit ladder and before even doing anything I opened one of the housing clips and drained the small amount of water! At least now I could get it back to Substation without having to worry about the water inside hurting the camera. All ended up well, I rinsed the inside of the camera housing with fresh water and cleaned everything, I will make another dive soon to check the housing without the camera inside before making another photo dive.
The Stoplight Parrotfish (Sparisoma viride) is a sex-changing fish inhabiting coral reefs in Florida, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, Bermuda and as far south as Brazil. Its typical length is between 1 and 1.5 ft (30 and 46 cm), but it can reach 2 ft (61 cm) at times. It is normally found during the day at depths between 15 and 80 ft (4.6 and 24 m).
The colors of the stoplight parrotfish in the initial phase, when it could be either a male or a female, are dramatically different from those in the terminal phase, when it is definitely a male.
The common name, stoplight, comes from the marked yellow spot near the pectoral fin, which is clearly visible only in specimens in the terminal phase.
I’m calling Saturday my “exercise day” which consisted of a three hour mountain bike ride in the morning and a three and a half hour walk along the coast with the dogs in the afternoon, I went to bed early that night!
I’m off to the sea, have a wonderful day!!