Avid outdoorsman and underwater photographer, Barry Brown has spent the last 12 years documenting life above and below water in Curacao, Netherlands Antilles. He is currently working with the Smithsonian Institution documenting new Caribbean deep-water species and building a one of a kind database. His underwater images can regularly be seen in Sport Diver, Scuba Diver and on the Ikelite website. His image of a "Collage of Corals" seen under blue-light at night recently placed in the TOP 10 images for the 2014 NANPA (North American Nature Photographers Association) photo contest.
Archive for the ‘Bony Fish’
Apr 11, 16 Comments Off on Solitary Balloonfish, Diodon holocanthus, Puffers
Good morning friends, I placed 2nd in Masters and 8th overall yesterday in the annual 45k Montana/Ennia mountain bike race. The race started in Montana (sounds like mon-ton-ya not like the state of Montana) at 3:00 in the afternoon and went to Playa Kanoa and back! For me it wasn’t the distance it was the heat and wind, who starts a race at three on the island of Curacao??? I am sure it was close to 100 degrees when we started and wasn’t much cooler at 4:30 when I finished! I had packed some food to eat at the half-way point like banana’s but apparently they fell out of my pack early on?? Luckily I still had a jell-pack stuck away and liquid food in one of my bottles otherwise I would still be out there walking!
I have a very gentle, uninflated balloonfish/pufferfish for you all today that I found in a super beautiful section of the reef.
There are more than 120 species of pufferfish worldwide. Most are found in tropical and subtropical ocean waters, but some species live in brackish and even fresh water. They have long, tapered bodies with bulbous heads. Some wear wild markings and colors to advertise their toxicity, while others have more muted or cryptic coloring to blend in with their environment.
They range in size from the 1-inch-long (2.5-centimeter-long) dwarf or pygmy puffer to the freshwater giant puffer, which can grow to more than 2 feet (61 centimeters) in length. They are scaleless fish and usually have rough to spiky skin. All have four teeth that are fused together into a beak-like form.
The diet of the pufferfish includes mostly invertebrates and algae. Large specimens will even crack open and eat clams, mussels, and shellfish with their hard beaks. Poisonous puffers are believed to synthesize their deadly toxin from the bacteria in the animals they eat.
Some species of pufferfish are considered vulnerable due to pollution, habitat loss, and overfishing, but most populations are considered stable.
Have a great day all!!
Apr 8, 16 Comments Off on Scorpionfish at Night, Scorpaena plumieri
Hello friends, I have a scorpionfish for you all today with his classic grumpy face, big mouth and ornate decorations that we found late at night out on the reef. I’ve been searching high and low looking for scorpionfish with our blue-lights at night but am not finding any, it’s a case of when you don’t want them they are everywhere and when you need one you can’t find one to save your life!
Most species of scorpionfish are bottom-dwellers that feed on crustaceans and smaller fish. Many inhabit shallow waters, but a few live as deep as 2,200 m (7,200 ft). Most scorpionfish, such as the stonefish, wait in disguise for prey to pass them by before swallowing, while lionfish often ambush their prey. Like many perciform fishes, scorpionfish are suction feeders that capture prey by rapidly projecting a suction field generated by expansion of the fish’s buccal cavity.
For those of you who said you sent rain down here I’m sad to say it never arrived, so please re-send as soon as possible please!
Have a great day and weekend!
Apr 6, 16 Comments Off on School of Blackbar Soldierfish Inside Sunken Ship
Good morning folks, we have a slight cloud cover this morning and a few drops of magical rain have fallen but so far nothing major! I was up early as usual and took the hounds for a long walk before work, got the bird feeders filled and the water bowls for the birds all ready. Tonight we are doing a 1st ever blue-light night dive under one of the big piers at Caracasbaai, it will be me, Stijn and our best friend Tina who used to work for the Smithsonian.
I have a beautiful school of Blackbar Soldierfish that I found hiding inside the sunken tugboat at Caracasbaai, this is what I call safety in numbers! The Blackbar Soldierfish, Myripristis jacobus can be located in a marine environment within a subtropical climate. They live in reef-associated waters. The Myripitis jacobus is recorded to be found in the Western Atlantic, Bahamas, Northern Gulf of Mexico, West Indies, the Caribbean Sea, Cape Verde, Principe, Ascension, and St. Helena islands. The biology of this species states that they can be found in coral reefs within deep waters. They are a nocturnal species. They mainly eat plankton. This species is occasionally marketed, but it is not popularly bought as a fish to eat. The Myripistis jacobus is also known as a Blackbar Soldierfish. It is a bright red color along with a black bar behind its head. It also is trimmed with white lines on its fins. This species is also found swimming upside-down at times.
Lots to do around here today…
Mar 31, 16 Comments Off on Trumpetfish Shadowing Behavior w/Different Fish
Good morning from Curacao!
I have two photos for you today showing a behavior we see quite often called “Shadowing or Shadow Hunting”. This is a unique hunting technique that usually involves a trumpetfish (the long fish) slowly swimming behind or on top of a large herbivorous fish, using the larger fish as camouflage, then coiling its body into an s-shape and rapidly lunging at prey when an opportune moment to strike presents itself. Trumpetfish seem to select a shadowing fish based on color but this doesn’t always hold true as you can see from the photos above: red-brown trumpetfish tend to shadow brownish fish like grouper, blue-grey trumpetfish shadow schools of blue fish like blue tang, and occasionally even scuba divers.
Trumpetfish are carnivores that feed on fish and crustaceans. They are ambush predators so they rely on camouflage and stealth to allow them to get close to potential prey. They often assume a head down position among the branches of soft rods or sea whips and their bodies sway back and forth in the current with the flexible branches in an attempt to hide from their prey. This vertical posture allows them to blend in with sea pens, sea rods and pipe sponges, providing useful camouflage. Trumpetfish capture their prey by quickly opening their large mouth to create suction that pulls in their prey. Because they are capable of opening their mouths as wide as the diameter of their bodies, they are capable of capturing large prey.
Have a wonderful day and again please send some rain down here!!
Mar 29, 16 Comments Off on Trumpetfish, Aulostomus maculatus, Long fish
Good morning friends, did you all have a wonderful Easter vacation??? I had a four day holiday and was busy from sun-up till down-down every single day with watering my baby agaves, dog walks, diving and mountain biking, that seems to my World in a nutshell!! Stijn and I did fun night dive Sunday evening, he went in search of lionfish while I worked on more blue-light images. Near the end of the dive Stijn franticly signaled me to come over and help him with a seven foot long green moray eel that was wrapped around his lionfish bucket. These eels have such an incredible sense of smell, you think sharks can smell blood, heck I think eels can smell it even better! I ended up chasing him off with my light and using my fins to create a surge of sorts that he felt immediately.
I have a dark colored Trumpetfish for you all today pretending he is part of the gorgonian. This is one of the most common hiding/resting places for these long fish, if you don’t see them swimming around on the reef start looking inside the soft corals, this is home sweet home for them!!
Have a great day and please send some rain down here!!
Mar 16, 16 Comments Off on Bandtail Puffer Camouflaged in Sand, Pufferfish
Hi all, off to a late start. I’m getting the underwater camera ready once again for another attempt at a blue-light dive and this time I do have the +4 filter screwed onto the front of the lens.
I have a little four inch Bandtail Puffer for your viewing pleasure today that I found buried in the sand on one of our many night dives. So many people ask me “what happens to the reef fish at night”? Well, from my observations each species does it’s own thing but for the most part they all find a safe place to hide. For instance the parrotfish sleep everywhere sometimes very hidden and sometimes right out in the open while wrasses and other fish wedge themselves deep down into the coral crevasses and fire corals. During the day these Bandtails swim around without a care in the World but at night they bury themselves like the lizardfish and flounders, pretty smart if you ask me.
Sphoeroides spengleri is widely distributed in the western Atlantic from Massachusetts (USA) southward to Santa Catarina (Brazil), including the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean, at depths ranging from very shallow waters to 45 meters. It is found in a variety of coastal and island habitats including reefs, seagrass beds and turbid waters with low visibility. Sphoeroides spengleri is considered common, however not abundant, as they are generally solitary fish and considered to be highly toxic.
I had a fun, very fast bike ride with my neighbor last night, it was only 10 miles but was a great way to end the day.
See you soon…
Mar 15, 16 Comments Off on Adult Spotted Trunkfish. Lactophrys bicaudalis
Hi all, we had a failed blue-light photo night dive due to yours truly forgetting to put the very important “+4 magnifying filter” over the the front of the 28-70 zoom lens, without this little piece of glass the lens can not focus underwater. We were about 10 minutes out last night when I realized something was wrong with the lens, I thought the auto-focus was just broken on the lens and never even realized it was the dumb little filter until this morning, what a drag! That’s kind of the down-side to blue-light photos, there is so much preparation and so much stuff one needs to carry to get good shots and it is for sure a two person job. Now a days when I see something I want to shoot Aimee will help light it up with a hand-held blue-light attached to a VEGA this way I can better see what I am shooting and the camera doesn’t have to work as hard trying to focus. Once we realized the mistake we called it a night and swam right back in, will try again tomorrow evening.
I have a super gentle, Spotted Trunkfish for you all today that we found a few years back under the pier at Caracas baai. I post pictures of the Smooth Trunkfish all the time and those are common and fairly un-shy but these are the complete opposite. We rarely see this species out free swimming like it’s cousin and doing it’s own thing, they just want to be left alone and watch the reef pass by from the safely of their little caves.
The Spotted Trunkfish is a member of the family Ostraciidae. It can be found in reefs throughout the Caribbean, as well as the south eastern Atlantic Ocean. The species gets its name from the black spots it has covered over its yellowish golden body.
The spotted trunkfish, like all trunkfish of the Genus Lactophrys, secretes a colorless toxin from glands on its skin when touched. The toxin is only dangerous when ingested, so there’s no immediate harm to divers. Predators however, as large as nurse sharks, can die as a result of eating a trunkfish.
Hope you all are well…
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…