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 ‘Scientific Research’
Mar 7, 17 Comments Off on Possible New Species found by Smithsonian Institution
Jan 27, 17 Comments Off on Ogcocephalidae, Batfish, Deep Sea fish, Odd Looking Fish
Good morning friends, I have a wild looking deep-sea creature for you al today called a Batfish, for sure one of the oddest animals on the planet! This was again found deep off the coast of Bonaire by the scientists from the Smithsonian Institution in collaboration with Substation Curacao who have the mini-submersible that dives to 1000 feet.
Batfish consist of about 60 species of fishes of the family Ogcocephalidae (order Lophiiformes), found in warm and temperate seas. Batfishes have broad, flat heads and slim bodies and are covered with hard lumps and spines. Some species have an elongated, upturned snout. Batfishes grow at most about 36 cm (14 inches) long. They are poor swimmers and usually walk on the bottom on thickened, limblike pectoral and pelvic fins. Most live in the deep sea, but some inhabit shallow water.
Batfishes are members of the group known as anglerfish and are equipped with a “fishing pole,” tipped with a fleshy “bait” to lure prey close enough to be eaten. The apparatus is located above the small mouth and, unlike that of other anglers, can be drawn into recess when not in use.
Hope all everyone is ding well out there, have a wonderful weekend!
Jan 26, 17 Comments Off on Decodon, Deep Sea Fish, Rare Fish, Deep Wrasses
Good morning Amigo’s, I have another Insane colored deep-sea fish for you all today that was found in Bonaire hundreds of feet below the surface by the folks from the Smithsonian Institution using a mini-submersible owned by Substation Curacao. This is a Decodon sp. which is a genus of wrasses found in the western Atlantic, the western Indian and the Pacific Oceans. Because of the rareness of this fish there is very little know about it, in fact you may be looking at a brand new species never before seen by man. The Smithsonian will now do DNA testing to see if this and others are either a known species or if they have something new, stay tuned for that answer…
Wrasses have protractile mouths, usually with separate jaw teeth that jut outwards. Many species can be readily recognized by their thick lips, the inside of which is sometimes curiously folded, a peculiarity which gave rise the German name of “lip-fishes” (Lippfische.) and the Dutch name of “lipvissen”. The dorsal fin has eight to 21 spines and six to 21 soft rays, usually running most of the length of the back. Wrasse are sexually dimorphic. Many species are capable of changing sex. Juveniles are a mix of males and females (known as initial phase individuals), but the largest adults become territory-holding (terminal phase) males.
The wrasses have become a primary study species in fish-feeding biomechanics due to their jaw structures. The nasal and mandibular bones are connected at their posterior ends to the rigid neurocranium, and the superior and inferior articulations of the maxilla are joined to the anterior tips of these two bones, respectively, creating a loop of four rigid bones connected by moving joints. This “four-bar linkage” has the property of allowing numerous arrangements to achieve a given mechanical result (fast jaw protrusion or a forceful bite), thus decoupling morphology from function. The actual morphology of wrasses reflects this, with many lineages displaying different jaw morphology that results in the same functional output in a similar or identical ecological niche.
Have a wonderful day, it’s almost Friday!!
Jan 23, 17 Comments Off on New Species, New Fish, Deep Sea Fish, New Goby
Good morning friends, I am back from Bonaire! In short, I was picked up from the airport a week ago by Carole Baldwin from the Smithsonian, jumped onto a waiting research vessel called the Chapman from Curacao and spent the week photographing new and exciting finds discovered by the Smithsonian scientists and Substation Curacao. Substation has a mini-submersible that can be loaded and unloaded into the water from the ship by way of a giant crane and it can dive to a depth of 1000 feet. Most days the submersible did two, 3-4 hour dives and brought goodies up for me to photograph each dive, I was one busy hombre!! Above is just one of the hundreds of insane beautiful finds, this is a possible new species of goby seen for the 1st time right here on this little o’l blog, how cool is that?? I have so many photos to clean up and get ready in Photoshop and once ready I will get them on here for you to see. Bonaire’s weather was a mixture of off and on rain and many days of giant swells creating not so good diving conditions meaning, I only was able to get in the water twice with the camera. On my last day, after we packed up and called it quits, our good friends Sal and patty collected me and my piles of luggage at the docks and took me to their beautiful Bonaire condo. I offered up a suggestion to head out and try to photograph all the yellow “dive rocks” which are located at the entrance to each and every dive site, a project I have wanted to do for years and Sal and Patty were game for anything. So we took off with camera in hand and raced to just about every dive site on the island getting most of them photographed before dropping me off at the airport at 2:00, it was such a fun day and I will post some of those shots in the near future.
That’s it in a very small nutshell, I will write more soon when I catch up…
Jan 6, 17 Comments Off on Godzilla Goby, Science in the News, Rare, Deep Sea Fish
Good morning all, my photo of the now famous Godzilla Goby is in the 2017 issue of Science in the News. This was one of the many new finds by the Smithsonian Institution in collaboration with Substation Curacao using a mini-submersible that can go to depths of a 1000 feet. Luke Tornabene and Carole Baldwin were the two scientists working on describing this beautiful new fish species which I believe was found off the coast of Curacao.
Oct 13, 16 Comments Off on Golden Bass, Liopropoma olneyi, Deep-Sea Fish
Good morning, I have a crazy beautiful, ultra rare deep-sea fish for you today that was found yesterday at around 600 feet! The common name for this little 3 inch jewel is Golden Bass or Liopropoma olneyi. This was named after Dr. John Olney who passed away several years ago and was one of the top marine larval fish experts in the world. Through DNA, Carole Baldwin and Dave Johnson were able to match a spectacular larval fish caught off the coast of Florida to adults of Liopropoma olneyi from the deep reefs of Curacao, a true mother and chid reunion.
Super busy with the Smithsonian…
Oct 12, 16 Comments Off on Deep-Sea Bellator sp. Found by the Smithsonian Inst.
Oct 7, 16 Comments Off on 1mm Polylepion sp. Found by the Smithsonian & Substation
Oct 7, 16 Comments Off on 3-inch Scorpionfish found at 675 Feet by Smithsonian
Sep 13, 16 Comments Off on CIEE Bonaire, Scientific Programs for School Kids
Good afternoon all, we just finished with the kids from the CIEE Research Station in Bonaire, we had 12 kids total meaning we did two submersible runs yesterday and one this morning. For years you have heard me me say “we have the kids from Bonaire coming today” well finally I have time to throw a short post out there for you all. So what does CIEE mean?? I actually had to look it up as my guess didn’t even come close.. It means “Council on International Educational Exchange” and folks this is a big organization, here is the link… www.ciee.org
CIEE is a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization, CIEE is the country’s oldest and largest nonprofit study abroad and intercultural exchange organization. Since 1947, CIEE has helped thousands of people gain the knowledge and skills necessary to live and work in a globally interdependent and culturally diverse world by offering the most comprehensive, relevant, and valuable exchange programs available. They began nearly 70 years ago with a mission to help people gain understanding, acquire knowledge, and develop skills for living in a globally interdependent and culturally diverse world. It’s an undertaking they have been proud to pursue for seven decades. Today, they serve more than 340 U.S. colleges and universities, 1,000 U.S. high schools, and 35,000-plus international exchange students each year and claim “We change lives; our alumni change the world”.
The CIEE mission is to provide outstanding educational opportunities to students in Tropical Marine Ecology and Conservation. We strive to provide interdisciplinary marine research opportunities for CIEE students as well as visiting scientists and their students from around the world. Collaboration with ongoing local research and conservation efforts is basic to our mission as is our commitment to provide scientific data, analysis and support to Bonaire’s environmental, educational and governmental entities.
The two girls above, Haley and Danielle were part of the 12 LUCKY kids that got to jump in our 2.5 million dollar submersible this week and take a ride deep into the deep Curacao abyss. I personally love having these kids visit and enjoy photographing them in the sub, they always bring a much needed breath of fresh air into our lives and end up re-charging our whole group with their fun, positive energy! Keep in mind, these are the kids that we hope will be able to fix, repair or heal the oceans with new ideas and ways to save our fragile liquid environment, we are all counting on them…
Have a great day, check out their website.
Jul 22, 16 Comments Off on NEW Species of Scorpionfish named after ME!
Good morning, or should I say GREAT morning, I got a fish named after me today!! Is that super cool or what?? For years I have been photographing all the new finds made by the Smithsonian, many I have posted for you all to see. Most of the fish and creatures that come up from the deep are new species meaning yours truly was the 1st to take their photos, it’s a honor beyond belief! Below is one of the many press releases that came out today, read on….
LIVE SPECIMEN OF THE NEW SCORPIONFISH (SCORPAENODES BARRYBROWNI)
Discovered by scientists using the manned submersible Curasub in the deep-reef waters of the Caribbean island of Curaçao, a new scorpionfish species is the latest one captured with the help of the sub’s two robotic arms.
Found by Dr. Carole C. Baldwin, lead scientist of the Smithsonian’s Deep Reef Observation Project (DROP) and based at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, Ms. Diane Pitassy, also affiliated with the Smithsonian in Washington, and Dr. Ross Robertson, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama, the new species is described in the open access journal ZooKeys. In their paper, the authors also discuss the depth distributions and relationships of western Atlantic members of its genus.
The new scorpionfish is distinguished from other similar scorpionfishes by a number of physical traits, including its distinctive bright orange-red colors, more elongated fin rays, and DNA. Inhabiting depths between 95 m and 160 m, it is also the deepest-living member of its genus in the western Atlantic Ocean.
The new scorpionfish is officially called Scorpaenodes barrybrowni in honor of Substation Curaçao and freelance photographer Barry Brown, who “has patiently, diligently, and expertly taken photographs of hundreds of fishes and invertebrates captured alive by DROP Investigators,” explain the authors. “He has generously shared his photographs, and they have enhanced numerous scientific and educational publications. It is an honor to recognize Barry Brown’s contributions to science through his photography.”
“Fish specimens that are brought up from deep reefs only occasionally surface alive,” explains Baldwin. When DROP scientists return to the surface in the Curasub with a living fish, Barry races it to his aquarium and begins to work his photographic magic.”
The new fish already has a common name as well. For the public, it will be known as the Stellate Scorpionfish, deriving from its star-shaped yellowish spots and the radiating pigment markings accentuating its eyes.
The manned submersible Curasub reaches depths up to 300 m and is used by DROP and other marine scientists to search for tropical marine fishes and invertebrates, while conventional SCUBA divers are unable to reach deeper than 30 – 50 metres below the water surface.
“The 50-300 m tropical ocean zone is poorly studied – too deep for conventional SCUBA and too shallow to be of much interest to really deep-diving submersibles,” notes Baldwin. “The Curasub is providing scientists with the technology needed to remedy this gap in our knowledge of Caribbean reef biodiversity.”
The sub relies on two hydraulic arms, one equipped with a suction hose, and the other designed to immobilize the fish with an anaesthetizing chemical. Once anesthetized, the individuals are collected with the suction hose, which empties into a vented plexiglass cylinder attached to the outside of the sub.
In January, the team of Drs. Luke Tornabene, Robertson and Baldwin discovered the Godzilla goby. About a year ago, Baldwin and Robertson stumbled upon another new goby species, which amazed the scientists with its love for the depths so much that they named it after the Curasub. In 2013, the authors recognized the DROP research program in the name of a beautiful new species of small blenny fish, Haptoclinus dropi.
“Stay tuned for more new discoveries,” suggests Baldwin. “We have only scratched the surface of our understanding of the biodiversity of tropical deep reefs.”
I have a photo-shoot on the beach in an hour, lots to prepare for!!
Have a great day!
Jul 18, 16 Comments Off on Removing Deadly Gill Nets from a Live Coral Reef
Good morning faithful readers of the blog, how was your Monday??? Mine started out normal and quiet until my friend Jonathan Klarich walked in and and asked if I had seen the new gill net that was at 100 feet out in front of the Sea Aquarium? I looked at him with a blank expression and said “what are you talking about”?? He said there was a dropped or abandoned gill net at 100 feet for the past few days and asked if I wanted to help get rid of it, my answer was… yes of course. Upon hearing that John set out to organize a major “gill net retrieval dive” which included calling in the Dutch Coast Guard and a bunch of our top divers from the Sea Aquarium. We all met at around 10:30 and by 11:15 once the Coast Guard showed up we jumped in and headed out equipped with knifes and mesh bags, I of course had just the camera. John led the way straight down to 100 feet, it was a quick decent with no time to enjoy the surroundings, we were on a mission with the Coast Guard waiting above us in their boat. The Coast Guard was there just for support, here in Curacao you don’t remove a net of any kind without going through the proper channels first. When I first saw the net glooming in the distance covered in dead fish I felt overwhelmed with what a major task this was as it was much larger than I had imagined! I immediately started shooting and the boys went to work slicing and dicing (bottom photo) as fast as they could and then trying their hardest to get that nasty net into those small mesh bags (middle photo), this was no easy task but to my surprise they got it done! Because of the deep depth the net was at we all ended up having to decompress a bit longer, this means we stop at 60, 30 and 15 feet for around five minutes each, it’s better to be safe than sorry. I ended up being the first one to the surface thus getting to shoot the top photo of the boys bringing up the bags and bags of net and lead weights and giving it all to the Coast Guard, a job well done and this section of the reef is once again safe for all sea creatures.
Here’s a small bio from John and some of the things he’s working on…
Have a wonderful day out there…
Jul 14, 16 Comments Off on Micro-Plastics, Microplastics, Ocean Microplastics
Good morning, good news, we got rain!! It started at around 4:15 and went for close to an hour, it was fantastic, a big thanks to the man upstairs!
I have something for you that is really causing quite a stir in the world right now, it’s called Microplastics! I found this mess on the shores of Saint Joris bay and it would take a miracle to clean it all up as it is so small! We are going there this weekend to try to get some of it off the shore and do some mangrove clean-up as well, contact me if you want to help. For those of you new to the word “micro plastic” here is a little information for you…
Microplastics are small plastic particles in the environment that are generally smaller than 1 mm (0.039 in) down to the micrometer range. They can come from a variety of sources, including cosmetics, clothing, and industrial processes. Two classifications of microplastics currently exist: primary microplastics are manufactured and are a direct result of human material and product use, and secondary microplastics are microscopic plastic fragments derived from the breakdown of larger plastic debris like the macroscopic parts that make up the bulk of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Both types are recognized to persist in the environment at high levels, particularly in aquatic and marine ecosystems. Because plastics do not break down for many years, they can be ingested and incorporated into and accumulated in the bodies and tissues of many organisms. The entire cycle and movement of microplastics in the environment is not yet known, but research is currently underway to investigate this issue.
Microplastics often become embedded in animals’ tissue through ingestion or respiration. Various fish species, such as deposit-feeding lugworms (Arenicola marina), have been shown to have microplastics embedded in their gastrointestinal tracts. Many crustaceans, like the shore crab Carcinus maenas have been seen to integrate microplastics into both their respiratory and digestive tracts.
Additionally, bottom feeders like benthic sea cucumbers, who are non-selective scavengers that feed on debris on the ocean floor, ingest large amounts of sediment. It has been shown that four species of sea cucumber (Thyonella gemmate, Holothuria floridana, H. grisea and Cucumaria frondosa) ingested between 2- and 20-fold more PVC fragments and between 2- and 138-fold more nylon line fragments (as much as 517 fibers per organism) based on plastic to sand grain ratios from each sediment treatment. These results suggest that individuals may be selectively ingesting plastic particles. Since this suggestion opposes the previously determined indiscriminate feeding strategy of sea cucumbers, this trend may be something which could potentially occur in all non-selective feeders when presented with microplastics.
Not only fish and free-living organisms can ingest microplastics. Scleractinian corals, which are primary reef-builders, have been shown to ingest microplastics under laboratory conditions. While the effects of ingestion on these corals has not been studied, corals can easily become stressed and bleach. It was also noted that microplastics were present stuck to the exterior of the corals after exposure in the laboratory. The adherence to the outside of corals can potentially be harmful, because corals cannot handle sediment or any particulate matter on their exterior and slough it off by secreting mucus, and they expend a large amount of energy in the process and increasing the chances of mortality.
It can take at least 14 days for the microplastics to pass from the animal (as compared to a normal digestion periods of 2 days), but enmeshment of the particles in animals’ gills can cause a prolonged presence. When these microplastic-laden animals are consumed by predators, the microplastics are then incorporated into the bodies of higher trophic-level feeders. For example, scientists have reported plastic accumulation in the stomachs of lantern fish which are small filter feeders and are the main prey for commercial fish like tuna and swordfish. Furthermore, small animals are at risk of reduced food intake due to false satiation and resulting starvation or other physical harm from the microplastics. Thus, the known effects of microplastics on marine organisms after ingestion are threefold:
physical blockage or damage of feeding appendages or digestive tract,
Busy day ahead, headed out to shoot some more beautiful corals!
Jun 29, 16 Comments Off on Turquoise Sponges Attached to Mangrove Roots
Good morning friends, I have one of the hands down most colorful sponges I have ever found for you today and it was found attached to mangrove roots in Fuik Bay! Yesterday morning at around 8:30 I joined the scientists from Sirenas on a boat ride to Fuik Bay. We were loaded with cameras and dive gear for a fun morning of diving in shallow water along the mangrove roots in search of sponges for medical research. The boat ride there was rough but fun and only took around 20 minutes and once there I immediately jumped in with my tank and camera and went in search of sponges. The first thing I found on the sand was an upside down jellyfish called Cassiopeia xamachana and they were everywhere! As I swam around shooting them I was shocked at just how many colors they came in, the blue ones were out of this world! I then spent the rest of the dive in about three feet of water at the base of the mangrove roots ( trying not to stir up silt) photographing all the different species of colorful sponges that were growing on or around the roots, talk about your rarely seen ecosystems!!! I have a bunch more cool sponge shots that I will get out, I really want to get back there soon and do some more exploring.
Hope all is well out there…
Jun 27, 16 Comments Off on Fabien Cousteau, Sirenas Sponge Research Curacao
Good morning friends, first I have the best news ever… It Rained!!! Yes you read that correctly, we didn’t get a ton but it was rain and it left real puddles, it was fantasic!
Aimee was home sick with a cold wednesday, thursday and friday and I tried hard to avoid catching it but came down with it as well on thursday meaning, I ended up not being able to race this weekend because of feeling so bad, what a major drag!
So as promised I have a few photos of Fabien Cousteau who is the grandson to the world famous Jacques Cousteau, a name that pretty much speeks for itself and needs no introduction. Fabien arrived last tuesday and left saturday, he was here to learn more about deep-water submersibles and what it takes to pilot one. He spent days with Bruce (our head pilot and technician) inside and around the sub learning as much as he could in these few short days and leaving with around 8-10 hours of open ocean stick time. He did a bunch of combo-dives with the scientists from SIRENAS (bottom Photo), they are here collecting sponges and using them for medical research trying to finds cures for some of the worst diseases on the planet. When the sub returns with the sponge specimens the scientists dive down to around 50 feet and meet the sub and unload the sponges and rush them to the lab.
Fabien Cousteau is an aquanaut, just like his father and grandfather before him. But more than just exploring the oceans to unlock their mysteries, Fabien went the extra mile by launching his “Plant a Fish” organization. It aims to educate the youth about the importance of protecting our waters and, as its name suggests, inspire them to do their share to create sustainable habitats for fishing. To honor his late grandfather’s 100th birthday, he directs “Mission 31,” and he and his research team will stay under the Florida Keys for 31 days to thoroughly study the current state of our waters.
Here’s a few Extraordinary facts about Fabien I dug up, talk about “been there done that”…..
He is the founder of “Plant a Fish,” an organization that aims to replenish aquatic resources and educate people about the issue.
He is the man behind the documentary, “Shark: Mind of a Demon.”
He partnered with his father and sister to produce “Ocean Adventures.”
He is the Program Director of “Mission 31,” the first underwater exploration which plans to stay underwater for 31 days.
He is the grandson of revered oceanographer Jaques-Yves Cousteau.
He owns a production company, “Bonnet Rouge” (Red Hat).
He has partnered with National Geographic, Discovery, CBS, and PBS to produce environmental documentaries.
He supports New York Harbor School.
He has spoken at Bloomberg, BLUE, Google Zeitgeist, Sundance, Tribeca Film Festival, DLD, Rio+20, BiF and TEDx (Los Angeles/ New York/ Rio).
He was included in The Daily Muse’s list of “50 Fearless Minds.”
Have a wonderful day….