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’
Jun 25, 15 Comments Off on Blue Light Underwater Images, Lionfish
Good morning friends, for the past three weeks on wednesdays evenings Aimee and I have been working on a big blue-light fireworm project that I should have done for you to see in the next few days. What we have been doing is collecting fireworms during the day under our floating platform (there are tons) putting them in little cups with lids, dropping in some food and then putting the cups in a mesh bag and attaching it to our down line where it stays until darkness. I collect the worms during the day because at night they are harder to find, they tend to hide under rocks and if you went looking for them at night you wouldn’t find as many. Then at around 6:30, we jump in with the camera that is all set up for blue-light photos, untie the fireworms (who are eating away) and down we go to around 65 feet to a selected vase sponge and dump them in. Good thing for me fireworms are slow moving, this gives me plenty of time to shoot them all and Aimee is next to me with a long zip-tie making sure they stay in the sponge until I tell her we are good to go. Every fireworm glows a different color under blue-light, so we thought why not create a fun collage with them all, it’s something you won’t see anywhere else. Normally we have been taking around 15-20 fireworms down at a time (last night only seven) and once finished with them they are free to go out onto the reef, we actually have way to many under the platform because our fisherman toss dead fish into that area all the time creating a fireworm paradise of sorts! Our dive last week was super crazy from start to finish…. It started the second we dumped the fireworms into the vase sponge, Aimee started screaming underwater and grabbed my BC and pulled me away from the sponge which later proved to be a very smart move! I looked up at her and she pointed down to a giant six foot spotted moray eel that must have smelled the little pieces of fish that where in the fireworm containers, he was super aggressive and very hungry! We couldn’t get rid of him and Aimee was still screaming but had now gone higher off the reef to safety while I instead decided to defend my ground and my fireworms, I mean heck I didn’t go through all this work to get chased off by a crazy eel! The eel was now on the sponge and smelling the fish, I put my camera between me and him and tried to scare him away but this only made things worse! He grabbed my camera in his mouth and shook it violently but I held on, he’s wasn’t about to get away with this! He finally let go and I used my fins to fan him away but all he did was swim about eight feet away to where he thought it was safe and parked himself there for the whole dive making my woman crazy with fear the whole time. Yep, the things we do for these photos, most of you will never know! The rest of the dive was pretty much complete chaos, I would be trying to shoot the worms and then Aimee would either scream or turn my body away from the eel that was apparently trying to swim up off the reef and bite my legs when I was shooting, good thing Aimee was there to keep an eye out. He did come back over to us multiple times and we did toss the fish pieces down to him in hopes of getting rid of him but feeding him had the opposite effect. In the end I got a few good shots of the worms but not what I needed that’s why we went again last night. Then after all this excitment I looked at my air guage and noticed I was pretty much out of air and still at 60 feet, again thank-God Aimee was there! So last night we again had a eel problem but minor compared to the last dive. This time it was a giant six foot plus green moray eel that was parked at our sponge. These eels are not as aggressive and I gently used my fins to scare him away but not before noticing he had a black brotula swimming in and out of his mouth and cleaning his face, man was that ever cool, talk about your RARE fish sightings! We had already released two fireworms into the vase when I noticed out of the corner of my eye, way down deep on the reef a giant southern stingray swimming under us, he was amazing! We both left the worms and swam out over the reef and watched him hunting for food on the reef below us, I think he was at around 110 feet. I can’t even tell you how bad I wished I was holding a camera with a wide angle lens, I would have loved to have photographed that stingray, it was hands down the biggest one I have ever seen! After watching him slip into the darkness we both went back to work shooting our seven worms which takes longer than one would think. On our way up the reef we ran into your photo of the day, a big lionfish out hunting and as you can tell blue-lights don’t really react to these fish that much but it’s kind of a cool effect.
Myth #1: Lionfish are poisonous.
Truth: Lionfish are venomous, not poisonousâ€“ 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, youâ€™re good to go!
I have a sub dive soon that I need to prepare for, have a wonderful day all!
Jun 23, 15 Comments Off on Fish Eyes, Trumpetfish Eye, Fish Faces
Good morning all, we are getting the submersible ready for a dive this morning and should be underway at around 11:15. If your lucky you can see us pass by at around 50 feet on our live online camera at www.seesubmarine.com Â remember there is a one hour delay so what your seeing actually happened one hour ago.
We have been under cloudy skies these past few days but still zero rain, I would do just about anything for a little rain right now, the island needs it so badly. Aimee and I continue to get up early every morning and haul as much water and bird seed out to our multiple water feeding stations in the desert, it’s such an easy thing to do and the animals are loving it!
I have a close-up shot of the eye of a giant red trumpetfish for you all today that I took a few weeks ago while out trying to get more “fish faces” with my macro lens. These fish are not shy at all and you can get very close to them especially if they are in hunting mode. They spend their days hanging upside down waiting for some poor fish to pass by, they are really quite the hunters and have an amazing amount of patience, kind of like a waiting scorpionfish.
Trumpetfish occur in waters between 0.5 and 30 meters (1.6 and appr. 100 feet) deep and can grow to 40 to 80 cm (appr. 15 to 31+ inches) in length. They are sometimes locally abundant over coral atoll reefs or in lagoons, where they may be caught even in areas of severe wave action. The spawning habits of the trumpetfish are unknown, but in the region around Madeira, it is known that the females have mature eggs from March to JuneTrumpetfish are closely related to cornetfish. Trumpetfish can be a bit more than 36 inches (3 ft) long and have greatly elongated bodies with small jaws at the front end of a long, tubular snout. The gills are pectinate, resembling the teeth of a comb, and a soft dorsal fin is found near the tail fin. A series of spines occurs in front of the dorsal fin. Trumpetfish vary in color from dark brown to greenish but also yellow in some areas. A black streak, sometimes reduced to a dark spot, occurs along the jaw, and a pair of dark spots is sometimes found on the base of the tail fin.
Trumpetfish swim slowly, sneaking up on unsuspecting prey, or lying motionless like a floating stick, swaying back and forth with the wave action of the water. They are adept at camouflaging themselves and often swim in alignment with other larger fishes. They feed almost exclusively on small fish, such as wrasses and atheriniformes,by sucking them suddenly into their small mouths.
There is another fish similar to a Trumpetfish called a Cornetfish often mistaken for a trumpetfish. The key visible difference is the tail, pointed â€œTâ€ in a cornetfish and rounded fan-shaped in a trumpetfish. In the years I have been here in Curacao I have only seen two cornetfish, they are so hard to find and very scared of their own shadows!!
I have to get ready to dive…
Have a wonderful day.
Jun 22, 15 Comments Off on Scrawled Filefish, Aluterus scriptus, Filefishes
Good afternoon one and all, I have another Scrawled Filefish photo for your viewing pleasure today that I snapped last week while out playing with our 2.5 million dollar submersible. Most of you have seen this exact fish before, he or she is one of my “locals” and has gotten more or less used to me and my big scary camera over the years which as you can imagine is a big plus if your an underwater photographer. Have I named him you ask?? No but now that I think about it, designating a few fish names to my “regulars” might be a great idea, just need some fun fish names now, I can’t just call him Mike or Steve.
We started out the day with our car getting dropped off to our local mechanic and hopefully it will be ready for us later this afternoon, it’s in desperate need of a new starter. I had a whole list of photo projects that had to be done this morning before I could start on this blog like sending pictures for consideration to Ranger Rick kids magazine. Every few months Ranger Rick sends out a “want list” to all the top photographers and we try as hard as we can to produce these wanted images. Today I sent in about 40 jumping dolphin photos, if I’m lucky they will pick one, cross your fingers.
My weekend went by so fast! Yesterday for example I left the house a little after 6:00 and got in a fast paced 22 mile mountain bike ride which was three loops around the salt ponds, it was bone dry but super fun! I then went beach combing for a few hours gathering everything from driftwood to beach glass all which will be kept for more fun craft projects down the road. After checking on the dogs and dropping off my finds I drove out to the place where our turtles are living and dug a deep hole and planted a big frangipani tree. Aimee and I have a yard full of potted frangipani trees that are all in need of homes, (we rescued them) if you live here and you want one come by and pick one up, please…. After getting back home and letting dogs out I agin went for a few more hours to the beach and then later at 4:00 met Aimee and we took all three dogs for a fun walk to the shaded area (the forest) at the salt ponds, I did trail cleaning while the dogs played and Aimee took photos. Then last but not least we went to a big Fathers Day party out at Stijn’s grandparents and ate like kings, it was so much fun and was a perfect ending to a fun filled day!!
We are still an island without rain and the wind is still blowing full blast, what a strange year!
I have to run…
Jun 3, 15 Comments Off on French Angelfish, Colorful Reef Fish, Curacao
Good morning friends, I know long time no blog, sorry about that! We have been crazy busy with our family members and yesterday we had submersible runs here at Substation Curacao all day long! On monday we took the family to a place called Porto Marie which is one of the most beautiful beaches in Curacao, equipped with a dive shop, restaurant and hundreds of beach chairs. I mostly hung out in the shade taking pictures of a three year old and a five year old playing in the sand while the parents got in the water with Aimee and explored the shallows with fins and masks.Â
Here is a big beautiful French Angelfish, Pomacanthus paru that lives out in front of the Substation, I see him and his or her mate almost every day. These fish can grow to be around 18 inches in length and can be found anywhere on the reef in 15-80 feet of water. Unlike the Queen Angelfish who are afraid of their own shadows these French Angels are as curious as they come! Most times if I am photographing something they will usually come over in a pair and slowly swim around me in circles, they are so beautiful!
Tomorrow we have to be aboard a ship called the Mermaid at 6:20am and off we go to the small island of Klein Curacao for a full day of fun in the sun! The island is about 15 miles away and takes about 2 hours to get to, I am praying we don’t have rough seas and maybe we will see wild dolphins along the way. I’m planning on taking all my photo equipment to shoot the 2 beautiful girls playing in the sand and maybe even a little video action in the water, it should be a fun day!!
Sorry so short, I just wanted to touch base!
May 29, 15 Comments Off on Juvenile Spotted Drum Video, Black & White Fish
Hi friends, as a reminder, watch this in 720p HD and not the standard 360p. To do this click PLAY, then click on the little gear at the bottom right corner of the video, itâ€™s in between a clock and a frame, click on the gear and change to 720pHD.
This is a juvenile Spotted Drum that has been in this same little spot for almost a month now, they are so cute and very territorial. This little black and white fish is only about two inches in length and spends the whole day just swimming in circles, talk about an easy life! What I find amazing is, this drum lives at the entrance to where my giant moray eel lives, he’s four foot long , the eel completely ignores the drum who swims in front of his face all day and the drum seems to just not care, that’s one brave little fish!
Our family members arrived in perfect shape last night, they are currently touring downtown Curacao with Aimee and then going to a big grocery store, that alone will be a crazy adventure!
Sorry so short…
May 28, 15 Comments Off on School of Caribbean Reef Fish, Live Aquarium
Hi friends, I have another fun video for you all but should to be watched in 720p HD and not the standard 360p, like all the rest of my video’s. To do this you have to either go to Youtube via this link Â https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aYA-5Ty4vyE Â and click on the little gear at the bottom right corner of the video, it’s in between a clock and a frame OR just click on the little gear on my blog page after the video starts and change to 720pHD. The downside to the blog page is your watching it so small, on Youtube you can view in two different sizes.
Our family members are in route and arrive tonight, to say we are excitted is an understatement! Be warned I may be busy this next week but will try my best to log on and toss some underwater entertainment your way!
Be well out there..
May 27, 15 Comments Off on Scorpionfish Eye, Fish Eyes, Macro Eye Photo
Good morning from one of the driest places on the planet! I would have never dreamed in a million years that islands in the Caribbean go for so long without rain but unbelievably it’s true! Our once beautiful forest is now a desert and it’s bone dry! My poor trails are like mountain biking on powdered sugar and if the wind is blowing… well, it’s just not a good time, not even the dogs want to go out any more! We continue to take water and food out to the desert everyday and the animals are of course loving it! This morning I had a little hermit crab problem and once again brought home 2 hermits without shells?? Yeah, they won’t live long without those. I had some spares here at work and will take them home to them right after doing this.
I have a close-up shot of a scorpionfish eye for you all today, thought I would give you a little break on the video’s.
Scorpaenidae, the scorpionfish, are a family of mostly marine fish that includes many of the worldâ€™s most venomous species. As the name suggests, scorpionfish have a type of â€œstingâ€ in the form of sharp spines coated with venomous mucus. The family is a large one, with hundreds of members. They are widespread in tropical and temperate seas, but mostly found in the Indo-Pacific. They should not be confused with the cabezones, of the genus Scorpaenichthys, which belong to a separate, though related family, Cottidae.
Most species are bottom-dwellers that feed on crustaceans and smaller fish. Many inhabit shallow waters, but a few live as deep as 2,200 metres (7,200 ft). Most Scorpionfish, such as the stonefish, wait in disguise for prey to pass them by before swallowing, while lionfish often ambush their prey. When not ambushing, lionfish may herd the fish, shrimp, or crab in to a corner before swallowing. Like many perciform fishes, scorpionfish are suction feeders that capture prey by rapidly projecting a suction field generated by expansion of the fishâ€™s buccal cavity.
I have a long training ride tonight with two of my students who have a race out here next weekend on all my trails, I may or may not enter.
We have Aimee’s sister and family arriving tomorrow night for 10 days so I Â may be away from the computer at times, we have lots of fun activities already planned!
Have a wonderful day..
May 26, 15 Comments Off on Beautiful Red Lionfish Floating on a Curacao Reef
Good morning friends, on yesterdays dive with Stijn we found or should I say he found the hands down most carefree lionfish I have ever seen!! This beautiful redish color lionfish was over a foot long and just hanging out on in the middle of the reef like he owned the place, maybe that’s because he knows he does?? As most of you know by now the east coast of America, the Bahamas and the Caribbean are under attack by a species of fish that is not supposed to be here, these are called lionfish and are some of the most spectacular creatures you will ever see!
Lionfish or Pterois volitans, which makes up approximately 93% of the invasive lionfish population, is also commonly called â€œred lionfishâ€ and Pterois miles is often called the â€œcommon lionfishâ€ or â€œdevil firefish.â€ However, their common names do not match the origins of their scientific names. The genus name, Pterois, pronounced (tare-oh-eese) is defined in modern dictionaries as simply â€œlionfishâ€, however the word Pterois comes from the Greek word â€œpteroeisâ€ meaning â€œfeatheredâ€ or â€œwingedâ€ and the Ancient Greek word, â€œÏ€Ï„ÎµÏÏŒÎ½â€ (pteron), meaning â€œfeatherâ€ or â€œwingâ€. The species name, volitans, pronounced (vole-ee-tahnz), is Latin for â€œflyingâ€ or â€œhoveringâ€ and the present participle of the Latin word â€œvolitÅ,â€ which means â€œto flyâ€ or â€œto hover. â€The species name, miles, pronounced (mee-layz), is Latin for â€œsoldieringâ€ and the present participle of the Latin word â€œmÄ«litÅâ€, which means â€œto soldier.
No one is quite sure where the name â€œlionfishâ€ really came from but it would be a logical guess that when both pectoral fins are completely extended and fanned out a head-on view of the lionfish might resemble a male lionâ€™s mane. Others have also suggested that it might be a tip of the hat to the lionfish as a ferocious predator.
Pterois fish in the Atlantic range from 5 to 45 cm (2.0 to 17.7 in) in length, weighing from 0.025 to 1.3 kg (0.055 to 2.866 lb). They are well known for their ornate beauty, venomous spines, and unique tentacles. Juvenile lionfish have a unique tentacle located above their eye sockets that varies in phenotype between species. The evolution of this tentacle is suggested to serve to continually attract new prey; studies also suggest it plays a role in sexual selection.
Pterois species can live from five to 15 years and have complex courtship and mating behaviors. Females release two mucus-filled egg clusters frequently, which can contain as many as 15,000 eggs. Studies on Pterois reproductive habits have increased significantly in the past decade. All the species are aposematic: they have conspicuous coloration with boldly contrasting stripes and wide fans of projecting spines, advertising their ability to defend themselves.
According to a study that involved the dissection of over 1,400 lionfish stomachs from Bahamian to North Carolinian waters, Pterois fish prey mostly on small fish, invertebrates, and mollusks in large amounts, with some specimensâ€™ stomachs containing up to six different species of prey. The amount of prey in lionfish stomachs over the course of the day suggests lionfish feed most actively from 7:00â€“11:00 am, with decreased feeding throughout the afternoon. Lionfish are skilled hunters, using specialized bilateral swim bladder muscles to provide exquisite control of location in the water column, allowing the fish to alter its center of gravity to better attack prey. The lionfish then spreads its large pectoral fins and swallows its prey in a single motion. They blow jets of water while approaching prey, apparently to disorient them.
The red lionfish is found off the East Coast of the United States and the Caribbean Sea, and was likely first introduced off the Florida coast by the early to mid-1990s. This introduction may have occurred in 1992 when Hurricane Andrew destroyed an aquarium in southern Florida, releasing six lionfish into Biscayne Bay. However, a lionfish was discovered off the coast of Dania Beach, south Florida, as early as 1985, prior to Hurricane Andrew. The lionfish resemble those of the Philippines, implicating the aquarium trade. The lionfish may have been purposefully discarded by unsatisfied aquarium enthusiasts. In 2001, NOAA documented several sightings of lionfish off the coast of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Bermuda, and as far north now as Delaware. In August 2014, when the Gulf Stream was discharging into the mouth of the Delaware Bay, two lionfish were caught by a surf fisherman off the ocean side shore of Cape Henlopen State Park: one red one that weighed 1 pound 4.5 ounces and one common one that weighed 1 pound 2 ounces. Three days later a 1 pound 3 ounce red lionfish was caught off the shore of Broadkill Beach which is in the Delaware Bay approximately 15 miles north of Cape Henlopen State Park. Lionfish were first detected in the Bahamas in 2004. Recently they have been discovered as far east as Barbados, and as far south as the Los Roques Archipelago and many Venezuelan continental beaches.
If you can change your viewing settings put it at 720, then you will see these in HD.
Have a wonderful all…..
May 25, 15 Comments Off on Large Aggregation of Colorful Blue Tangs
Good morning friends, I’ve been posting photos of blue tang aggregation for years and finally have a little video clip (watch in 720) that better explains this crazy underwater sight. I have two parts to this video as I followed them a long time, it’s just such a cool thing to witness!
We see these large groups called â€œaggregationsâ€ 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 damselfishâ€™s territory, there is little that the damselfish can do. Â When this occurs, the damselfish frantically, but ultimately fruitlessly, attempts to chase away their more numerous attackers while the school consumes all of the algae in their territories.
Blue tangs are active during the day, hiding in crevices on the reef at night to avoid predators.
Juvenile blue tangs are solitary and occupy home ranges that increase with body size. Juveniles aggressively defend their home ranges from juvenile ocean surgeonfish. Juveniles also avoid damselfishes that overlap in range with them.
How was your weekend?? Still no rain here in Curacao, it’s scary dry and not so beautiful to look at! I did a 35 mile mountain bike ride yesterday morning which took two hours and forty five minutes and got home just as the crazy winds started up again, talk about not fun to be out in! This morning Stijn is coming over to go out diving with me, he just arrived for the states and will be here for a few months during his summer break.
Have a great day all…..
May 22, 15 Comments Off on Scrawled Filefish Video, Odd Shaped Reef Fish
Hi boys and girls, I have a short but fun clip for you all today of a beautiful 16 inch scrawled filefish that I found out on the reef a few hours ago. You may have to watch this on Youtube as it’s so small, here is the linkâ€¦.
Check out the sharp spine on top of it’s head, this can be raised or lowered depending on how worried he or she is and as you can see he or she is a bit concerned. This ultra cool fish like so many others can change colors in the blink of eye, it’s truly one of the top coolest fish in the Caribbean sea.
Have a great day..
May 21, 15 Comments Off on Smooth Trunkfish Searching for Breakfast in Curacao
Hi gang, sorry about the lazy blogs this week but I am having a weird week. I have a super cool, medium sized smooth trunkfish for you all today that I found yesterday at around 45 feet on the Sea Aquarium house reef. As I followed I noticed all he or she wanted to do was to eat but as you can see the reef is full of crazy little damselfish that guard every inch of property out there and hate trespassers!Â
Rhinesomus triqueter, the smooth trunkfish, is a species of boxfish found on and near reefs in the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and subtropical parts of the Western Atlantic Ocean. It is the only known member of its genus.
The smooth trunkfish has an angular body sheathed in plate-like scales, growing to a maximum length of 47 centimetres (19 in), though 20 cm (8 in) is a more normal size. The body is enclosed in a bony carapace and, when viewed from the front, is triangular in shape with a narrow top and wide base. The fish has a pointed snout with protuberant lips encircling a small mouth. The tail is shaped like a brush. The general background colour is dark with a pattern of small white spots, often in hexagonal groups giving a honeycomb-like appearance in the middle area of the body. The tip of the snout and the area round the pectoral fins are dark with few spots and the eyes are black. The fins are usually yellowish with a dark base and tips. They have only soft rays with no spines.
The juveniles have dark colored bodies covered in large yellow spots. As they get older, they develop a pale area where the honeycomb markings will later appear.
The smooth trunkfish is found down to a depth of about 50 m (164 ft) on coral reefs and over sandy seabeds in the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and the western Atlantic Ocean. The range extends from Canada and the Gulf of Maine southwards to Brazil.
The smooth trunkfish is normally solitary but sometimes moves around in small groups. It uses its protuberant lips to expel a jet of water which disturbs the sandy seabed and reveals any shallowly buried benthic invertebrates. It feeds on small molluscs, polychaete worms, acorn worms, peanut worms, small crustaceans, sponges and tunicates.
Our submersible is on the way up the reef with Carole Baldwin inside so I better get out there and see if they found anything…
Have a great day.
May 19, 15 Comments Off on Female Sergeant Major Guarding Her Eggs
Good afternoon friends, about a week ago I sent you some photos of a Sergeant Major guarding his eggs, you can either just scroll down to see it or click on this link to refresh your memory.
So this morning while I was under the sea I thought why not try and get a little video-clip that better shows how these fish constantly fan their eggs and how dedicated they are to ensuring their survival. If you look closely you will see a one foot square area of lavender colored eggs all glued to the side of this rock, these are about a week old now. When freshly laid the eggs are a beautiful dark purple color and as time passes and the little ones start to grow they start turning a much lighter almost grey color. In the beginning of the film you will see a little black fish with a yellow tail pass by, that’s a little sea bass called a Yellowtail Hamlet. The Sergeant Major knows that this little bass is not after her or her eggs and therefor is left unbothered. With that said, any other fish that passes to close to her eggs will be chased off and folks this little six inch fish can be very aggressive! Now normally it’s the job of the male Sergeant Major to guard the eggs so I’m not quite sure what is going on here, maybe a lunch break?? The male is usually a very dark blue or purple color and doesn’t have these very noticeable yellow stripes. Can you imagine laying your eggs (thousands of them) on the side of a rock out in plain site and having to defend it from an ocean full of hungry fish??? At least at night she can chill and go to sleep, what a life!!! For those of interested, I found this fantastic information on why fish fan their eggs…..Check it out!!
I had a fun weekend and got to spend all day Sunday with Carole Baldwin from the Smithsonian Institution, you know her, the Worlds leading authority on Caribbean reef fish! Her and I spent a good part of the day beach combing and chillin on the beach and then at 4:00 took off on a 33 mile, three hour mountain bike ride, I was done and it was game over by 8:00! Oh yeah, this is funny… I locked my keys in my car while at the beach but luckily left the window down about 3 inches. At first we both just looked at each other in disbelief and tried a few things that didn’t work. So as a last resort, I was holding a full size garden rake (don’t ask why) and to my complete astonishment it fit in through the window! I put the metal part in first and then since the handle was so long was able to hook my keys that were in the ignition and pull them out, it really could not have been easier and took less than a minute, I’m now thinking everyone should carry a rake!!!
Have a wonderful day!!
May 13, 15 Comments Off on School of Caribbean Reef Fish in Curacao
Good afternoon friends, I have a short but fun clip of some of our local residents swimming in circles in around 15-20 feet of crystal clear Caribbean water. Most of the yellow striped fish you see are Smallmouth Grunts with a few French Grunts mixed in there as well. These fish are all around 7-9 inches in length and are rarely found deeper than 60 foot. Looking more closely you will also see different species of parrotfish, blue tangs, sergeant majors, wrasses and on an on, this is an everyday “quick look” into what we see every time we head out for a dive.
Super busy today, I hope all is well out there!!
May 12, 15 Comments Off on Spotted Trunkfish, Lactophrys bicaudalis
Good morning from the windy, dry Caribbean! I have a cuteÂ Spotted Trunkfish, Lactophrys bicaudalis for your viewing pleasure today that I found a few days ago hiding inside a big cave. Here in the Curacao we have three species of trunkfish, the Buffalo Trunkfish, Lactophrys trigonus, the Smooth Trunkfish, Lactophrys triqueter and the Spotted Trunkfish, Lactophrys bicaudalis as seen above. Of these three, the buffalo trunkfish is by far the hardest to find and I think if memory serves me right I have only ever seen one and yes I did get a photo. The second hardest to find is the spotted trunkfish, (above) they are so shy and seemingly scared of their own shadows?? And last is the smooth trunkfish that can be found in great numbers all over the reef and for some reason are not afraid of anything?
Spotted trunkfish are shy but curious fish that swim slowly above reefs, often hovering under ledges or over small holes. They prefer warm temperatures between 22 and 26 degrees C (72 and 79 F) and depths between 4.5 and 18 meters (15 and 60 ft). Trunkfish are protected by a bony outer surface that acts as body armor and includes two sharp spines guarding their rear fins. The rigid outer structure helps protect spotted trunkfish from predators, but they are poor swimmers because of their rigidity and bulky shape. At maturity they average 15 to 30 cm (6 to 12 in) in length.
These fish are very weary of divers unlike the more common Smooth Trunkfish that you can almost pet. These guys spend their days hiding in the reef and unless your really looking for them you probably wonâ€™t see one. The Smooth Trunkfish on the other hand is out in the open all day and those can be found everywhere on the reef either digging in the sand looking for food or eating algae off rocks. Since we have been here we have only seen 3 or 4 juvenile Spotted Trunkfishes, those are so hard to find and are on our â€œHoly Grailâ€ fish finding list.
Have a great day out there…
May 5, 15 Comments Off on Sergeant Major Eggs, Abudefduf saxatillis
Good morning friends, the winds here in Curacao are pushing 38 knots this morning, that’s around 43 mph not including the 60 mph wind gusts, not a fun place to be right now!
I have two different, very aggressive, male Sergeant Major’s for you all today that I photographed a few days ago guarding their eggs which you can see in the last photo.Â Sergeant Majors earn their name from their brightly striped sides, known as bars, which are reminiscent of the insignia of a military sergeant major. This is a very common reef fish growing to a maximum size of about 7 inches and found in the 1-40 foot zone. The female willÂ lay her eggs in patches on a firm substrate and the male will guard them vigorously until they hatch. The males will turn a sky blue color during this period. These poor males work so hard at chasing off any passing fish or diver that they think may want to eat their eggs, they have to defend the eggs all day long! Like all other damselfish these Sergeant majors are aggressive beyond belief and will go to great efforts to defend the nest, I can’t even count the number of times I have been chased away by a damselfish or bitten on the ear! When the eggs are freshly laid they are a bright purple color as you see in the background of photo 3 on the left side. During the “egg guarding process” the male will constantly fan the eggs with his peck fins as you see in photo 2 which aids in better water circulation, meaning healthy babies! Later when they are just about ready to hatch the eggs turn a clear color (photo 1 and 2) and you can see each individual fish inside each little egg, which means two big well developed eyes and a clear body all looking up at you!
Individuals of this species form aggregations of about several hundreds of individuals. Sometines, they get cleaned of parasites by fish species such as gobies in the genus Gobiosoma, Bodianus rufus, Elacatinus figaro, and Thalassoma noronhanum. Sergeant majors also clean green sea turtles with Acanthurus chirurgus and Acanthurus coeruleus.
Have a wonderful day…