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’
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…
Mar 11, 16 Comments Off on Two Sharpnose Puffers, Caribbean Puffer Fish
Good morning friends, I bet your glad it’s friday!! I told you all yesterday about our wonderful little rain shower that helped all the nature and animals on this island get a much needed bath and drink, it was wonderful! I went riding last night with one of my students and we got stuck in some of the worst mud I have ever been in down around the salt pond, maybe even worse than last years extreme race! It was so bad we had to carry and push our bikes through it and then make a detour to the aquarium to rinse off, it was horrible!! Our mud here consists of 100% salt and bird poop, could be the smelliest stuff I have ever had the pleasure of dealing with. Once our bikes were rinsed we continued our ride but found due to the rains everything was soft and difficult to ride on.
I have two super cute, male (on the right) and female Sharpnose Puffers for you all today that I found hanging out deep down inside a colony of sponges. From a distance it looked like some kind of pre-mating ritual as they gently swam around each other and the male gently kissed the female and if fish could talk they would have asked me for a little privacy!! These little puffers are only a few inches in length, they are super colorful with their neon striping and are by far some of the most gentle creatures on the reef, I really love them…
Have a great weekend out there.
Mar 2, 16 Comments Off on Lizardfish/Sand-Diver Buried in the Sand
Good morning from one of the driest places on the planet! Yesterday morning I took the dogs and re-opened a small piece of single-track that has been closed for around 9 years. I had originally built this little section of trail to help keep traffic i.e. walkers, cyclists and motorcycles away from the poor flamingos which tend to feed right along the shores. This was a fairly easy task as the trail was already there, it just needed to be swept to clear all the thorns and I had to cut a few long branches. We rode the trail then last night, I was amazed that an hour and a half of work equaled about 30 seconds of riding, still not sure that was a good use of my time.
I have a very colorful Lizardfish for you all today that I found partially buried in the sand waiting for some poor unsuspecting prey to pass by. This is usually the way I see them except most of the time they are completely buried with only their eyes and mouth sticking out of the sand.
Lizardfishes are benthic marine and estuarine bony fishes that comprise the aulopiform fish family Synodontidae. They are found in tropical and subtropical marine waters throughout the world.
Lizardfishes are generally small, although the largest species measures about 60 cm (24 in) in length. They have slender, somewhat cylindrical bodies, and heads that superficially resemble those of lizards. The dorsal fin is located in the middle of the back, and accompanied by a small adipose fin placed closer to the tail. They have mouths full of sharp teeth, even on the tongue.
Lizardfishes are benthic animals that live in shallow coastal waters; even the deepest-dwelling species of lizardfish live in waters no more than 400 m (1,300 ft) deep. Some species in the subfamily Harpadontinae live in brackish estuaries. They prefer sandy environments, and typically have body colors that help to camouflage them in such environments.
The larvae of lizardfishes are free-swimming. They are distinguished by the presence of black blotches in their guts, clearly visible through their transparent, scaleless, skin.
Have a wonderful day out there….
Feb 25, 16 Comments Off on Honeycomb Cowfish, Odd Shaped Reef Fish
Good morning from Curacao…. We continue to have high winds and zero rain which is quickly creating a not so beautiful Caribbean landscape. Aimee and I are still taking out water and food to the desert everyday to our secluded little oasis which as can imagine is a big hit for the local wildlife. I have been trying hard to get some diving done this week but because of the high winds creating big swells the visibility is awful.
I have a Curacao favorite for you all today called a Honeycomb Cowfish, one of our all time favorites. This unusual reef fish has an armor of heavy hexagonal scales covering much of it’s body, and an elongated caudal peduncle (tail stem) with rounded fins. It has a small, puckered mouth and tiny horns over it’s eyes with a sloped face and pronounced forehead, resembling a cowfish. Despite being somewhat rare and shy, this is a popular fish for divers and public aquariums.
Off to the sea…
Feb 24, 16 Comments Off on Juvenile Rock Beauty, Colorful Baby Reef Fish
Good morning friends, I have a super cute, two inch long juvenile Rock Beauty for you all today that I found under the pier at Caracas Baai and YES fish can be cute!! Over the years this little fish has been very illusive and we have only seen these babies a handful of times. Like most tiny newborn fish these Rock Beauties find a safe home and will stay there in the same place until they are older only coming out to socialize and feed. Photographing these fish can be very difficult as they usually won’t come out until it’s safe so I usually have to wait in the same place for an extended amount of time, sometimes for the whole dive.
When this fish becomes older it will be mostly yellow, turning blue toward the tail. The tail itself is yellow. The pectoral fins and ventral fins are yellow, and the lips and the edges of their dorsal fins and anal fins are dark blue. The adult measures up to 10 inches (25 cm).
The rock beauty feeds primarily on sponges. It may also eat tunicates, jellyfish, and corals, as well as plankton and algae.
Have a great day…
Feb 17, 16 Comments Off on Bicolored Coney, Cephalopholis fulva, Sea Bass
Good morning friends, we had a little “fake rain” last night that barely wet the ground and did nothing for the plants. We are really seeing a pattern of less and less rain here each year and a major increase in the wind which is great if you are into flying kites and wind surfing! We have another very busy day underway with a large group of kids from Bonaire so yours truly is in and out of the water most of the day.
I have a super colorful little sea bass for you all today called a Bicolored Coney or Cephalopholis fulva for you masters of fish out there. The coney (Cephalopholis fulva) is a relatively small grouper species which occurs in three main colour forms: a red or dark brown form, commonly found in deep water; an orange-brown or bicoloured form, orangey-brown above and pale below, which usually occurs in shallow water; and a yellow (‘xanthic’) form, found in both deep and shallow water. In the first two forms, the head and body are covered in small, dark-edged blue spots, while in the yellow form the spots are fewer and are confined to the front part of the head and body. In all colour forms, there are two prominent black spots on the tip of the lower jaw, and also two prominent black spots near the tail. Like many groupers, the coney is able to change colour, and at night may take on a pale colouration, with irregular vertical bars and blotches. Individuals can also apparently change between the all-red or all-brown form and the bicoloured form, whereas yellow individuals do not appear to change. The coney may change to the bicoloured pattern in response to excitement, or the pattern may aid in concealing the fish at certain times of day.
Thanks to www.arkive.org for that wonderful hard to find info….
Lots to do.
Feb 5, 16 Comments Off on Blue Tang, Acanthurus coeruleus, Blue Fish
Good morning all, what a week!! So much diving in freezing cold water, it really wears you out! Aimee and I have been packing like crazy to get ready for our Washington trip which is now only days away. We have a friend staying at our house and all the neighbors will be helping walk the dogs throughout the day, that alone is a big relief! I have been so busy this week that I wasn’t able to go biking at all but tomorrow morning I will be making up for lost time in the saddle and picking up a friend at 7:30.
I have a beautiful Blue Tang for you all today that I found swimming under a pier up against a beautiful sponge encrusted wall!
I have to be underwater AGAIN in 15 minutes, sorry but I have to run!!
Have a great weekend and I will try to post from Washington…
Feb 2, 16 Comments Off on Lionfish Face Photo, Colorful Invasive Reef Fish
Good morning all, I have a fun Lionfish portrait for you all today that I shot yesterday with my trusty 105 macro. We still see these beautiful invasive fish on every dive but on some reefs they are really doing a good job at keeping the numbers down. We ended up doing three dives yesterday, two of them were with my intern trying to teach him something about the difficulties of underwater photography, he’s finding out it’s not so easy….
Pretty much everything about the venomous lionfish—its red-and-white zebra stripes, long, showy pectoral fins, and generally cantankerous demeanor—says, “Don’t touch!”
The venom of the lionfish, delivered via an array of up to 18 needle-like dorsal fins, is purely defensive. It relies on camouflage and lightning-fast reflexes to capture prey, mainly fish and shrimp. A sting from a lionfish is extremely painful to humans and can cause nausea and breathing difficulties, but is rarely fatal.
Lionfish, also called turkey fish, dragon fish and scorpion fish, are native to the reefs and rocky crevices of the Indo-Pacific, although they’ve found their way to warm ocean habitats worldwide.
The largest of lionfish can grow to about 15 inches (0.4 meters) in length, but the average is closer to 1 foot (0.3 meters).
Lionfish are popular in some parts of the world as food, but are far more prized in the aquarium trade. Their population numbers are healthy and their distribution is growing, causing some concerned in the United States, where some feel the success of this non-indigenous species presents human and environmental dangers.
Lots to do….
Jan 29, 16 Comments Off on Spotted Scorpionfish Photo, Scorpaena plumieri
Good morning out there, check out this outrageous Scorpionfish that we found on a night dive, he or she has the biggest lips I have ever seen on one of these fish, I think he could swallow just about anything! Besides the big mouth check out all the exotic plumage this fish has as well, it really helps him blend into the reef. These fish are so patient and will just sit there all day waiting for some poor unsuspecting prey to swim by.
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. Like many perciform fishes, scorpionfish are suction feeders that capture prey by rapidly projecting a suction field generated by expansion of the fish’s buccal cavity.
I have to get back out under the sea, have a wonderful day…
Jan 28, 16 Comments Off on Balloonfish, Diodon holocanthus, Porcupinefish
Good morning friends, Curacao is having some crazy high winds right now which is very unusual for this time of year. We also appear to be heading into another major drought, this could be the worst start of a year I have seen to date.
I have a very cute Balloonfish for you all today that I found at dusk heading out one night for a night dive.
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.
I have to get ready for a sub dive, see you soon…
Jan 26, 16 Comments Off on Three Spotted Drums, Black and White Reef Fish
Good morning all, so what’s better than finding one Spotted Drum?? That’s right, finding two, and what’s better than finding two Spotted Drums, the answer would be finding THREE!!! Some of my underwater photo friends out there know not only how cool it is to find these fish in numbers but to have the chance to get them all in one photo, it just plain doesn’t happen every day!! These are for sure some of the coolest fish in the sea and for sure the most graceful and gentle. These odd shaped fish are normally found by themselves and tend to pick an area of the reef and stay there for an extended amount of time, they don’t seem to move around much. These cool fish are frequently observed during the day under ledges or near the opening of small caves, at depths between 3 and 30 metres (98 ft), where it swims in repetitive patterns. A nocturnal feeder, it leaves the protection of its daily shelter at night to feed mainly on small crustaceans and Polychaete worms.
I have to be underwater with the sub in 10 minutes, have a wonderful day all….
Jan 20, 16 Comments Off on Two Smooth Trunkfish, Lactophrys triqueter
Good morning amigo’s, how is your week treating you??? I’m still coughing and trying to get over this crazy bug but let me tell you, it’s really hanging on for dear life!! Our submersible just took off into the deep abis with two guests from the States and won’t be back for at least an hour giving me a little time to post a blog.
I have two cute as can be, fun loving Smooth Trunkfish for you all today that I found on a night dive chilling out inside a little sandy bottomed cave. Both of these odd shaped swimmers were around four inches in length and really didn’t move around much while I was photographing them. As you can see the water was crystal clear, in fact, it was crazy clear on this particular dive making my job a whole easier and much more fun. 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.
Have a great day my friends, the sub is returning…
Jan 19, 16 Comments Off on Two Banded Butterflyfish, Chaetodon striatus
Good morning, we have an overcast day on tap and it looks like it wants to rain but I think it just forgot how. We continue to do our early morning “save the wildlife” by bringing in water and bird food every morning to our two big feeding areas out in the desert. This morning I brought home a very sad looking hermit crab in a broken shell, it’s one of the worst homes I have seen. I have him now in a big bucket with other new shells so he should figure that out soon and discard the old nasty one, I will then take him back to where we found him.
I have a pair of beautiful Banded Butterflyfish for you all today that were found parked up against a monster sized barrel sponge in around 70 feet of clear Caribbean H2O.
Banded butterflyfish adults are most often seen in male-female pairs and may be monogamous throughout life. Courtship between the two is drawn out and energetic; the fish circle each other, head to tail, then chase each other around the nearest coral reef, shooing away other fish that dare to approach. Spawning takes place at dusk as the female releases 3,000 to 4,000 small, pelagic eggs. The larvae , which hatch within a day, are characteristic only to the butterflyfish family, with the head encased in bony armor and bony plates extending backwards from their heads. The larvae are gray and almost transparent, useful adaptations for any species growing up in the water column. Butterflyfish spend weeks as pelagic larvae before undergoing final settlement to the reef and attaining juvenile coloration. Juveniles look different from adults; they have a large, ringed black spot at the base of their dorsal fins that acts as a false eye, confusing predators as to which end is the front of the fish. Juveniles may retain this spot up to a size of 5 centimeters, after which it begins to fade away. The overall body color of juveniles is brownish-yellow instead of white and may serve as camouflage, as banded butterflyfish juveniles often inhabit sea grass beds.
Have a great day out there….
Jan 11, 16 Comments Off on Curacao Reef Scene, Scrawled Filefish Photo
Good morning gang, I came into work today but am still sick with the Curacao crud!! As of tomorrow it will be a week of coughing, aching and nose blowing and YES for those of you asking I did go to a doctor but even those pills don’t seem to be doing much.
I wish I had some kind of exciting story to tell but I have been inside for a week, if there is any up-side to this it’s given me lots of time to prepare for our up and coming talks at the Smithsonian next month, I am going through old photos night and day…
Your above photo was shot about a week ago on my last dive out in front of the Substation lagoon. This is my little buddy again that follows me everywhere, one of the coolest Scrawled Filefish I have ever seen!
Hope you all are doing better than yours truly…
Dec 31, 15 Comments Off on Whitespotted Filefish, Cantherhines macrocerus
Good morning all, it’s the last day of 2015, that really doesn’t even compute…. I’m sitting here in my wetsuit getting ready to head out underwater with our submersible for one last customer run of the year, then after I can spend the rest of the day with Aimee, the dogs and our two visiting guests. Tonight will be insane with fireworks to say the least, we will have to have the t.v. volume up as high as it will go, turn on the fans and air-co’s and sit with the dogs till way after midnight, I’m guessing till 2 or 3 in the morning. Two of our dogs are super scared of fireworks while our dog Indi would prefer to just be outside watching, what a major character…
I have a full size adult Whitespotted Filefish for you all today that I shot yesterday while out photographing the sub at 50 feet in front of the Substation entrance. These fish are super calm and very curious, one of the few easy fish for new underwater photographer to shoot.
The American whitespotted filefish typically has a brown or olive colored body, although it may also be grey. These fish can rapidly change appearance to a high contrast color pattern with a much darker background and many light colored spots. With a maximum length of around 18 inches, they are smaller than the scrawled filefish which is also found in their range. The American whitespotted filefish is often seen in pairs. These fish are omnivorous; although they eat animals like sponges, stinging coral and gorgonians, and algae.
Happy New Year one and all, another year of blogging has ended, thanks for all the support!!!!!!!