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 ‘Snails + Clams + Nudibranchs’
Oct 7, 14 Comments Off on Rough Fileclam, Lima scabra, Caribbean Bivalves
Good morning from the Dutch Caribbean. I have a crazy beautiful clam for you all today called a Flame Scallop or Rough Fileclam, “Lima scabra”. This is hands down one of the most spectacular mollusks in the sea, and you really have to see it to believe it!
This alien looking clam is a marine bivalve mollusc in the family Limidae. Although their name would suggest otherwise, flame scallops have no relation to scallops, besides their exterior. The flame scallop is found in the Caribbean Sea. It is similar in appearance to the Indo-Pacific electric flame scallop (Ctenoides ales).
Flame scallops have a rough outer shell with a red mantle. Surrounding the mantle are red and white tentacles. The flame scallop’s vibrant red color is due to the large amount of carotenoids found within their body. Flame scallops can reach 3 in long. The gills are used for respiration and filtration.
Flame scallops rest in their own nests made of small coral and rocks. Because flame scallops have no photosynthetic properties, the herbivorous flame scallops eat only phytoplankton. During the consumption process, flame scallops sift and sort through the phytoplankton with their gills to determine what is appropriate for ingestion.
To escape predators or harm, like crabs and shrimps the flame scallopâ€™s valves are used. Flame scallops push their valves together to propel themselves away from dangerous situations. YES folks they can swim!!!
We have a submersible dive at 11:00 and I was told our live underwater camera is working again, try it and let me know, www.seesubmarine.com
Have a wonderful day all!!
Oct 2, 13 Comments Off on Lettuce Sea Slug, Elysia crispata, Sea Mollusk
Hi all, I have a beautiful little Lettuce Sea Slug, Elysia crispata for your viewing pleasure today. These gentle little sea creatures are only about 2-inches in length and are very common on the reefs in Curacao. This one here was found at Playa Piskado (means fish) next to Playa Forti and we found them in numbers all the way down to 70 feet! This is a new color I have never seen before and of course I had to stop and take it’s photo! As I swam around I noticed more and more of these and was not only shocked by the shear numbers but also by how many different colors I saw, may be going back there on Sunday so I will for sure get more photo examples!
The Lettuce Sea Slug, Elysia crispata is typically green with white spots, however, individuals with other colors can be found like you see above. Some have a rainbow of blues and yellows decorating their frilled bodies. The elongated visceral mass of Elysia crispata lies dorsally on top of the foot of the animal. The parapodia, dorsal to the visceral mass, form the distinctly ruffled, lettuce-like appearance on the dorsal surface of the body. This characteristic is responsible for the common name of the species, the lettuce sea slug. Although Elysia crispata is a mollusk, it does not have a mantle cavity, gills, or an osphradium, but does have a foot and radula.
The hermaphroditic organ, the ovatestes, is located throughout the parapodia. The hermaphroditic duct allows eggs and sperm to leave the ovatestes. Ventral to the parapodia, the hermaphroditic duct splits into tubes leading to distinct male and female reproductive parts. The oviduct is the female portion of the hermaphroditic duct, leading to the female gland and the female pore. The seminal receptacle is attached to the female gland. The male potion of the hermaphroditic duct is the sperm duct, which leads to the male atrium, which contains the penis. The seminal vesicle is located under the atrium. The atrium has a small pore called the male pore. During sexual reproduction, the penis comes through the male pore and into its mate’s female pore. Sperm are ejected from the seminal vesicle of the male organs into the seminal vesicle of the mate. The sperm then internally fertilizes the eggs in the female gland.
I attempted to go mountain bike riding last night but was just too tired after about 8 days of late night dives but will try again tonight.
Hope all is well out there, have a wonderful day!!
Sep 3, 13 Comments Off on Giant African Land Snail In Curacao? Achatina fulica
Good evening friends and family, how is your week treating you?? We had one full day of rain and now everything is muddy and soon everything will be green again!
Well just when I thought I had seen it all we find something else, but like the invasive lionfish this animal should not be in Curacao either!! This is aÂ Giant African Land Snail, Achatina fulica and what it’s doing here is anyones guess!! These are being found all over the Jan Thiel area right now and I bet even more show up after this big rain we just had! This one here was about 9 inches in length and can get much bigger. If you look carefully at the last photo you will see one of our normal sized half inch snails walking around on top of the African snail’s head, that kind of gives you a size reference!Â
The East African land snail, or giant African land snail, scientific name Achatina fulica, is a species of large, air-breathing land snail, a terrestrial pulmonate gastropod mollusk in the family Achatinidae.Â Because they develop so rapidly and produce large numbers of offspring, this mollusc is now listed as one of the top 100 invasive species in the world. It is a voracious feeder, and recognized as a serious pest organism affecting agriculture, natural ecosystems, commerce, and also human health. Because of these threats, this snail species has been given top national quarantine significance in the United States. In the past, quarantine officials have been able to successfully intercept and eradicate incipient invasions on the mainland USA.
In the wild, this species often harbors the parasitic nematode Angiostrongylus cantonensis, which can cause a very serious meningitis in humans. Human cases of this meningitis usually result from a person having eaten the raw or undercooked snail, but even handling live wild snails of this species can infect a person with the nematode and cause a life-threatening infection.
Be warned that not only can the the Giant African Land Snail can grow to the size of a large rat it’s numbers will explode in seven weeks when the snails emerge from underground hibernation for the start of the upcoming rainy season.
If they are released into the environment where they donâ€™t have any natural enemies, they thrive and the species devours everything green and leafy in its path and there are currently 500 plants that it readily consumes!!Â
These snails are hermaphrodites, having male and female sex organs. Each snail lays up to 1,200 eggs per year and can live up to a decade, experts say.
Like other land snails, these have intriguing mating behaviour, including petting their heads and front parts against each other. Courtship can last up to half an hour, and the actual transfer of gametes can last for two hours. Transferred sperm can be stored within the body for up to two years. The number of eggs per clutch averages around 200. A snail may lay 5-6 clutches per year with a hatching viability of about 90%.
Adult size is reached in about six months; after which growth slows but does not ever cease. Life expectancy is commonly five or six years in captivity, but the snails may live for up to ten years. They are active at night and spend the day buried underground.
Have a great day tomorrow all, be back soon, Barry
Sep 24, 12 Comments Off on Queen Conch, Strombus gigas, The Last Queen Conch
Good morning friends, what a crazy weekend!! I left for Bonaire at 7:00am Friday morning and spent the whole day with my buddies from Ikelite, it was GREAT!! We first went out to the North side of Lac Cai Bay and there we were quickly reminded why the Queen Conch is on the endangered list!! Here you will find mountains of old discarded Queen Conchs that have been harvested almost to the brink of extintion! In Bonaire and Curacao they are supposed to be protected but we saw evidence that they are still catching and selling them on a daily basis. In the top photo is a newly caught Queen Conch that was recently discarded and in the bottom photo if you look closely you will see dozens of fresh kills mixed in the old pile, look for the yellow shells. I found some interesting facts below from the US Fish and wildlife site, here is the link;Â http://www.fws.gov/international/dma_dsa/cites/animals/conch_facts.html
Our next stop was at a wonderful resort called SOROBON located on the South side of Lac Cai.Â http://www.sorobonbeachresort.com/en/ This is the hands down most beautiful place to stay in Bonaire and has some of the best food on the island second only to Cactus Blue in downtown Bonaire! Here we all sat on the beach and had a wonderful lunch and just watched the waves and listened to the birds, if you want relaxation this is where you need to be! After lunch I did a quick photo shoot with everyone in the group posing them on this long fantastic pier that takes you quite far out into the bay.
We then loaded up and took off back into town and went in search of caves that I had been to a few years back while on my assignment from Sport Diver. The first cave I found easily but we needed a rope to get in so off we went to find the next one. The next one is really cool and has a ladder that you climb down and once at the bottom you can explore till your hearts content. These caves are still very active and most of the Stalagtights are still dripping water and slowly forming new Stalagmights, it’s such a cool place to explore. The downside is how HOT it is inside so if you go bring extra clothes or carry a hand towel and please watch were you walk and remeber to never touch anything in a cave.
That was about it for my day in Bonaire, I was delivered back out the airport at 6:00 and by 7:00 I was back in the air for my 14 minute flight back to Curacao!
The rest of my weekend was filled with trail building and beach glass collecting.
Have a great day!!
May 28, 12 Comments Off on Baby Perotrochus Gouyanus Slit shell, Rare Sea Shells
GoodÂ morning friends,Â Here’s something really cool that the scientists from the Smithsonian found this week in the Curasub at around 600 feet. This is a really rareÂ adult and a little babyÂ Perotrochus Gouyanus (Fischer & Bernardi, 1856)Â Â that wasÂ successfully brought up alive!Â To our knowledge this is the smallest live slit shell ever found and when I say small he’s smaller than a dime and cute as can be! This is by far one of the most rare and sought after mollusks on planet Earth, just his shell can fetch thousands of dollars to the right buyer or collector.Â The adult shellÂ is only around three inches wide by two inches tall. So once again you lucky folks get to see something that only a handful of scientists have ever seen and would probably kill to get to observe, itâ€™s really one super cool animal!
The superfamily of Pleurotomariacae Swainson, 1840, are among the oldest surviving mollusca on Earth, having first appeared in the late upper Cambrian period over 500 million years ago. The Pleurotomariidae family includes all recent slit-shell species, first appeared in the Triassic period, some 200 million years ago. Since the discovery of the first living plearotomariid species, all have been commonly referred to as â€œliving fossilsâ€ having previously thought to be extinct since the Tertiary. The slit-shell was first illustrated by a Japanese naturalist named Kimura Kenkado in 1755. The slit-shell family consists of top shaped shells characterized by a slit in the edge of the outer whorl. When threatened as you see here, the animal is capable of discharging a very toxic white solution! These mollusks like others do have a cool little circular operculum but it is not visible in this photo. The operculum is like a shield and uses it as a last defense to block entry into itâ€™s delicate mantle area. Sixteen species are known to exist and all are found deep. Most extant species are in the genus Perotrochus and Entemnotrochus. TheÂ slit-shell is evolutionarily primitive and lives as a grazer. Sponges form the staple diet, although other food residues have been found in the esophagus and rectum of preserved animals. It is found in tropical and subtropical waters, typically at 300-3000 foot depths. Few people have actually observed a living slit-shell in itâ€™s natural habitat, which can be easily explained by the nature of the habitat it is found in. The uniqueness and sheer beauty of these magnificent shells make them one of the classic rarities of the shell world.
I have been so busy this week photographing all the new deep-water speciamens that have been found by the Smithsonian and have lots of new cool photos to send after we get them named.
Saturday wasÂ so busy!! I first took the dogs for a two hour walk and did some much needed trail work on the Calabash trail and while there replaced a Geocache container that had been robbed again? After that I raced to work to do a dive with a friend who just bought myÂ old/newÂ Nikon D-300s andÂ since she bought the housing and camera I am going to teach her how to use it all underwater as well. Our dive turned out to be a bit frustrating for both of us as we had quite the strong current and trying to take photos in current is about as hard as it gets. So needless to say we picked the wrong day to start photo class underwater but we did have a good time just the same. After that andÂ I mean directly after that I met the ladies from the Smithsonian and took them collecting sea-glass for an hour, that’s always a great time! I then raced home, grabbed my camera and tripod and met a friend out in front of my house who picked me up in his car. We ended up picking up more of his friends and drove to a very out of the way secluded beach to film a short commercial for a new pair of bamboo sunglasses that my friend has just designed and will be selling in the near future. The glasses are really cool and when he gets the footage put together I will post the link, it’s one of those Earth friendly items that everyone should own!! I ended up getting home close to 9:00 in the evening and was starved, I ateÂ and went to bed, what a day!
Yesterday I took the dogs to Saint Joris and went mounting biking, it was a much more relaxed day and was nice to just notÂ do anything!
That’s it, all the dolphin babies are doing great, we haven’t heard much aboutÂ Lola the puppy but last word was all is going well, we sure miss her around here.Â Â Have a great Monday, see you tonight or tomorrow morning, Barry
Mar 20, 12 Comments Off on Sea Slugs, Apricot Sidegill Slug, Berthellina engeli
Good morning from Curacao. The wind has finally stopped! Sunday was the first day in a long time that we had calm seas and no wind, it was great! The weekend was busy as usual, Saturday I first took the dogs for an hour and a half walk then took off on a 42 mile, four hour mountain bike ride along our windy North coast! I finally found the time to catch up on some needed training and had a great time in the process minus the crazy blowing wind. On Sunday I did a dive helping to move some endangered Elkhorn corals at a site where a big hotel is soon to be built, talk about a big, crazy project. After that I got the dogs and camera equipment ready and waited for Aimee to get off work, we then all went to Saint Joris Bay for a fun evening walk and finally got some photos of the new puppy. The downside to our evening was finding a rare endangered Hawksbill turtle that the locals caught and killed, it’s like we say here;Â “if it moves they will eat it”!!
Here is a cool Caribbean creature, it’s called an Apricot Sidegill Slug, Berthellina engeli. Aimee found this while moving rocks out of one of the dolphin pools and like a good girl brought it directly to yours truly so it could be photographed. What we do is just put them in a container in a cool dark area while I run a get my gear ready. I then get a smaller cup with holes in it andÂ carefully place our new found creatures inÂ there and then it’s off we go out onto the reef for a photo shoot. After every photo session I then find a nice new area for them to call home somewhere on the reef and let them go and I never leave till I know they are safe. This slug here was around two inches in length and usually spend their days hiding under reef rubble, especially flat slabs of coral. When disturbed they may secrete sulphuric acid in defense.
It’s time to make the coffee, hope all is well out there, be back soon. Barry
Feb 20, 12 Comments Off on Succinia gyrata, Caribbean Snails, Curacao Snails
Hi friends, I had the day off because of Carnival but Aimee had to work, just doesn’t seem fair does it?? So since Aimee had work, Emily and I loaded the dogs in the car at 7:00am and drove a few miles away to an area called Jan Theil. We ended up doing a pretty long walk and getting some trails cleaned up with a big push broom along the way. Why a push broom you ask?? It’s the only way to get the millions of tire-popping thorns off the trail that constantly fall from the trees above, it’s either sweep or stop and fix a flat tire every 10 minutes! After the walk, Emily went to the aquarium to spend the day with Aimee and our vet and I went diving again with Stijn and another friend. Our dive wasn’t so great as the waves were really churning up the sea and soon after entering we started noticing large amounts of jellyfish! It started with just one or two but within minutes the sea was full of them so we all agreed to get the heck out of the water immediately, no need to visit the hospital on such a beautiful day! So since the dive was cancelled we did the next best thing and went collecting sea-glass! Because of the high waves the glass collecting has been great this week and as usual Stijn was the winner with his reds and multi-colored green pieces. Stijn is pretty clever, the second we pull up he takes off and quickly walks the shoreline in front of me picking up the best of the best before I get there and heck I don’t care just as long as it’s found!!
Here is a new snail I found in our yard last month during all the rain, it’s called Succinia gyrata. Let me tell you, trying to find some information on this species is almost impossible, it may be a water snail and not a land snail but I couldn’t find that out for sure. The snailâ€™s mouth is on the bottom of the head right up by the short tentacles. Inside the mouth is a specialized eating tool, the radula. The radula is a muscular structure covered by thousands of tiny, sharp teeth. The snail eats by pressing the radula against a leaf or other desirable bit of vegetation and rasping it to scrape away small particles. Most other interesting snail structures are hidden inside the shell, but some can be observed with patience and perhaps a flashlight. Snails breathe by taking air into a visceral cavity that is richly supplied with blood vessels, the snailâ€™s version of a lung. When the snail extends from the shell, the access pore can be seen opening and closing just below the margin of the shell on one side. Also, the snailâ€™s heart can be seen pumping blood by placing a snail on the lens of a flashlight and carefully looking through the translucent shell. The shell itself is an excellent piece of work. The colors and patterns are lovely, and the coil is a masterpiece of efficient construction. Snails grow by laying down new material around the edge of the roughly circular opening. By extending the length and diameter of the living quarters, the snail can grow and still retreat into its shell as needed. The shell is rich in calcium, so snails need a continual supply in their diet. Most of you already know I am turning into a snail freak, they are just so cool!
I smell hot fresh brownies, I’m outta here, Barry
Feb 9, 12 Comments Off on Leech Headshield Slug, Chelidonura hirundinina, Slugs
Hi friends, we have another first for you all tonight and thanks to our friend Ellen in Bonaire we even have a name!Â This is a Leech Headshield Slug, Chelidonura hirundinina and it’s only 3/4th of an inch in length. Believe it or not this wasn’t found out on the reef or even in the lagoons that surround the park, it was found inside the Curacao Sea Aquarium. The crew was busy cleaning one of the tanks that hold some our coral specimens and there it was stuck to the side of the window. This little guy could have been stuck to anything that was brought in from the ocean or it came in as an egg.Chelidonura hirundininaÂ is a species of small and colorful aglajid sea slug, a shell-less opisthobranch gastropod mollusk in the family Aglajidae. Despite its colorful appearance, this is not a species of nudibranch, it is a cephalaspidean, a headshield slug. This is a tropical species which lives in the western Indo-Pacific, and also in the Caribbean Sea. This species has a maximum size of 40 mm, but is often smaller than that. The background color can be red, orange, dark brown, or black. There are blue, black, and orange stripes on the body, and there is a white marking towards the posterior end of the animal. The two rather long “tails” at the end of the animal are characteristic of the genus Chelidonura. The specific epithet hirundinina is Latin, meaning “little swallow”, in reference to this swallow-tailed appearance. What do they eat you ask?? Well one book I found said they eat other Headsheild Slugs or each other, yeah kind of creepy!
I was in and out of the water all day today, I did three dives. For one of the dives I took this slug down to 80 feet and photographed him in his natural setting as you see here, it was like taking the dog out for a walk except it was a slug!
I have a crazy wave/surfing video for you all this evening www.video.mpora.com/watch/5Pgs2slxu/hd/ and even if you could care less about surfing then just watch the waves, they are some of the biggest ever!
I’m out, have a great evening, Barry
Feb 3, 12 Comments Off on Land Snails, Neosubulina harterti, Curacao Land Snails
Good morning friends, here is one of the new Land Snails, Neosubulina harterti that is now calling our house, home. This particular species of snail has just appeared out of nowhere and after any given rain the driveway is just full of them. These are very small snails, this one here was less than half an inch in length with his body extended. My daily routine has been to get up early and carefully go outside with a flashlight and pick them all up and remove them from our walking areas and take them to a safer area away from foot traffic and the car. Land snails are gastropods, whose members also include aquatic snails (including marine snails) and slugs. The name means stomach-foot. This makes a degree of sense as the whole clan gets about by gliding on a muscular structure on the bottom of the abdomen, called the foot. The action that produces motion is a well-coordinated, wavelike contraction of muscles on the bottom of the foot that propels the gastropod smoothly forward over just about any surface. The action is not fast by human mobility standards butÂ a determined snail can easily cover a meter in 5 minutes, so in the course of an evening a snail can travel the length of a football field and back. Land snails have several characteristics that make them easily identifiable. They have a single shell, usually coiled, that is a combination shield and humidor. The hard shell resists the efforts of predators and provides a haven during dry times. Snails are a moist gang, and if a snail cannot find a watering hole to renew its water supply, it will retreat to a protected nook, withdraw into its shell, and seal its shell to a solid surface. The snail will lapse into dormancy until rain, dew, or a garden sprinkler once again moistens the environment. This passive state, rather like hibernation but initiated by dry rather than cold, is called estivation. One indication that snails have been active is the telltale slime trail. Garden snails produce a layer of mucus on which they slide. This makes it easy to track their movement, but also saddles them with a reputation for being yucky. Most land snails have interesting projections on the fronts of their heads.Â Technically they are tentacles, but â€œfeelerâ€ is a pretty good description of their function because they are touch sensitive. The two longer ones have light-sensitive organs at their tips, making them the snailâ€™s version of eyes, although their function is limited to light perception rather than image generation. The shorter tentacles feel, taste, and smell the environment in the never-ending search for food and water, and in constant vigilance against dangers.
Yesterday my mountain bike broke down, the rear shock completely blew apart and was leaking oil everywhere. I rushed it to the bike shop but of course living here in Curacao there is nothing they could do so off the part went via DHL to America for repair. I sent it to a place I have used before called Suspension Experts in North Carolina, they are fast and do great work but I still will be without the bike for a few weeks.
The wind was really blowing here yesterday which kept us from doing our coral moving project, none of us dared to get into the ocean with the big waves coming in. I am planning on diving the whole weekend moving the corals so if anyone wants to help please let me know today.
Aimee spent most of the day yesterday and the day before helping stray dogs on the island and one in particular is the worst we have ever seen. This dog has no hairÂ and it’s whole body is bleeding from a skin infection, it’s enough to make you sick! Aimee was able to get it to the vet with the assistance of a local lady and there they started to give it shots and treatment, if I send you a photo you would cry! I will keep you posted.
That’s about it, off to work, Barry
Oct 11, 11 Comments Off on Blue Lettuce Sea Slug, Elysia crispata, Mollusks
Hi all, I recently found another blue Lettuce Sea Slug, Elysia crispata out on the reef in front of the Sea Aquarium. These beautiful little mollusks are incredibly common in the Caribbean but finding a blue one is something special,Â most of themÂ are white or shades of light green. These are NOT nudibranches, they are Sea Slugs, they do not have external gills like the nudibranches, just a pair of rolled rhinophores and skin ruffles. And for the record, they are not poisonous at all, I hear so many divers telling other divers that they are toxic and not to touch them but this is not true. I would honestly have to say that theseÂ sea slugsÂ are the single most gentle creature on the reef, they just want to be left alone and eat their algae.
I wish I had something exciting for you today but there is just nothing going on! We will be underwater with the sub at 12:15 and 2:15 today, give or take a few minutes, tune in if you can. www.seesubmarine.com
Off to the ocean, have a wonderful day, Barry
Oct 5, 11 Comments Off on Live Slit-Shell, Perotrochus Quoyanus, Alive Slit-Shell
Good evening friends, here’s a real treat for you all tonight. This is MEGA RARE Slit-Shell, Perotrochus Quoyanus (Fischer & Bernardi, 1856) that was found by the Curasub at around 600 feet and successfully brought up alive! To our knowledge this is the first and or longest surviving slit-shell in captivity to date! We have had him in the Curacao Sea Aquarium under professional care now for almost two weeks and he is still doing great! This is by far one of the most rare and sought after mollusks on planet Earth, just his shell can fetch thousands of dollars to the right buyer or collector. I made a little arrow so you can easily see his little black eye on the right side of his head, the left eye is harder to see but it is there. The white stuff you see is poison that he is excreting as he was a bit alarmed and thought he was in danger. His shell is only around three inches wide by two inches tall. On my dive today I brought up more little rocks with encrusting sponges stuck to them for him to eat, we are still not 100% sure what he likes so we are trying everything! So once again you lucky folks get to see something that only a handful of scientists have ever seen and would probably kill to get to observe, it’s really one super cool animal!
The superfamily of Pleurotomariacae Swainson, 1840, are among the oldest surviving mollusca on Earth, having first appeared in the late upper Cambrian period over 500 million years ago. The Pleurotomariidae family includes all recent slit-shell species, first appeared in the Triassic period, some 200 million years ago. Since the discovery of the first living plearotomariid species, all have been commonly referred to as â€œliving fossilsâ€ having previously thought to be extinct since the Tertiary. The slit-shell was first illustrated by a Japanese naturalist named Kimura Kenkado in 1755. The slit-shell family consists of top shaped shells characterized by a slit in the edge of the outer whorl. When threatened as you see here, the animal is capable of discharging a very toxic white solution! These mollusks like others do have a cool little circular operculum but it is not visible in this photo. The operculum is like a shield and uses it as a last defense to block entry into it’s delicate mantle area. Sixteen species are known to exist and all are found deep. Most extant species are in the genus Perotrochus and Entemnotrochus. TheÂ slit-shell is evolutionarily primitive and lives as a grazer. Sponges form the staple diet, although other food residues have been found in the esophagus and rectum of preserved animals. It is found in tropical and subtropical waters, typically at 300-3000 foot depths. Few people have actually observed a living slit-shell in it’s natural habitat, which can be easily explained by the nature of the habitat it is found in. The uniqueness and sheer beauty of these magnificent shells make them one of the classic rarities of the shell world.
Off to bed, have a great day tomorrow, Barry
Sep 9, 11 Comments Off on Graysby Grouper and the Bubble-Snail, Curacao
Hi friends, remember I did a dive the other day photographingÂ the new Bubble-Snail I had just found?? Well after the shoot I found what I thought was a nice home and let him go. But, before swimming off and saying “have a nice life” I always stick around and make sure whatever it is I let go is doing well and adapting to it’s new home and environment. I released the beautiful bubble-snail onto a patch of sand around some rocks as that was where I had originally found him but after around ten minutes of watching he slowly crawled up onto this rock filled with algae’s and corals. Now all of a sudden he was the center of attention and the first fish in to greet him or “eat him” was a big Squirrelfish which immediately tasted the side of him but immediately pulled back in disgust. Then fish by fish came to investigate, some just watched while others put their mouths right up to it but all seemed to sense this was not for eating! Finally as I was about to pick him up again and take him to a better location this Graysby grouper swam in with all the intention in the World to eat him (which I never would have let happen) and did what some of the others did and just lightly tasted it or smelled it. I honestly could not get this fish to go away and for the first time ever I was able to touch a live fish! This grouper was so intent on the moving bubble-snail that he let me pet the side of him?? Yeah, talk about the Twilight Zone?? You can call me the “Grouper Whisperer” if you like, it was pretty cool! For me the strangest thing about the wholeÂ ordeal was that normally these fish are ultra shy, heck most days I am lucky to even get a photo of one but this one was in some kind of bubble-snail trance?? So after around five minutes of letting this go on I finally picked the bubble-snail up again and found an even better home nestled in the big rocks with nothing but sand and darkness. I again watched as he slowly crawled over the sand leaving a slime trail the whole way and then just like that he was gone, he went far into a rock cave where I could no longer go. Honestly that is one of the coolest creatures ever, and they really seem to love the sand, I originally found this almost completely buried, most likely why we have never seen them before!
Our little island got hit with quite a rain storm yesterday morning, the Salina area was flooded!! Both dives we did with the sub were dark and it was raining the whole time. For those of you tuning in to the live video camera please be patient as we still are not getting out there on time! Yesterday we should have been out there at 11:15 but didn’t get out till 11:35 due to a way to long briefing inside. I would say just keep checking in everyday if you can at 9:15, 11:15, 1:15 and some days at 3:15 I will try and give you advance notice. I was going to go riding as well last night but there was just too much standing water on the trails.Â Instead IÂ came home and finished a big driftwood standing shelve unit that I have been working on for a long time, I will send a photo or better yet add it to the “Driftwood Creations” link on my www.coralreefphotos.com site.
Have a great day, Barry
Aug 24, 11 Comments Off on Baby Blue-Ring Sea Hare, Stylocheilus longicauda
Hi friends, I found two mega cool, super small new creatures today! I left on a deep dive at around 12:00 with my wide angle lens and took off down to 130 feet in search of a certain kind of sea whip, butÂ once there found out that their polyps were closed, maybe due to the still water and poor visibility. So here I had thisÂ massiveÂ 10.5 mm lens and nothing to shoot?? Yeah really how is that even possible?? I guess I am finally just getting too picky about what I shoot, I think that’s a good thing. So as I called it a dive and was stopped at 30 feet playing with my favorite little damselfish and I see something tiny move out of the corner of my eye. I was stopped along a rock wall and was just inches from the rocks when I spot what I thought was a tiny little nudibranch but later found out it’s a just born, baby Blue Ring Sea Hare! I quickly opened my BC pocket and found my “little creature collecting jar” and gently set it down in front of him with the lid off and in he crawled! Since I had my wide angle lens I knew if I didn’tÂ collect him now I would never find him again and that’s a fact! I placed him in my underwater holding area in his little white cup, exited the water and first called Aimee. I asked her if she could come help me photograph my new find as he is way to small for me to handle and try to photograph at the same time. How small are we talking? Look at your fingernail on your little “pinky” finger, he was smaller than that!! Yeah how I ever found him to begin with was a complete miracle! So Aimee showed up around an hour later and off we went! When Aimee first saw this tiny thing in the jar she just couldn’t believe her eyes at how small it wasÂ and kept looking at me with the “how did you ever find this look”?? We spent around an hour underwater following him with a camera and once finished released him back to the exact spot I found him! While we were letting him go I was playing with a patch of sargassum on a rock and it moved??Â As I looked closer it was a tiny little decorator crab with sargassum attached to his body. I again pulled out my handy dandy collecting jar and he crawled right in, IÂ still have himÂ underwater in a safe place for the night and will take him back out to the reef in the morning and shoot him as well. It was so funny when I pointed to the crab, Aimee couldn’t even see it and when you see the photo yourself you will see why as well, he really blends in! If you look close at the photo below youÂ can even see his two little black eyes, what a cool little tiny creature!
That’s about it, another very hot no wind day!! See ya, Barry
Jun 4, 11 Comments Off on Atlantic Deer Cowrie, Cowrie Species, Cypraea cervus
Good morning friends, boy am I ever tired today! I went from a busy, fun filledÂ dayÂ which included two dives straight to a graduation party till 1:00 in the morning!! A few weeks back a friend of mine set me up with this really fun job of photographing this private party at the new Renaissance Hotel in Outrabanda. The daughter of the hotel is graduating so the family set up this mega party atmosphere in the sand along side the pool, with live music, food that was out of this World and decorations to die for, it was amazing!! I do what I usually do at these events, let everyone have a few drinks first then I start walking around and shooting, I even took people from their tables and posed them on the beach, or in a nicer spot, it turned out to be a great time. As the night progressed one by one they moved out onto a dance floor with live singers, that turned out to be the “Kodak Moment” I was looking for.Â I love doing events like this when everyone is so nice and easy going, at the end they all dressed up in Carnival Decorations and I shot like there was no tomorrow, really fun night!
Here is the new Atlantic Deer Cowrie, Cypraea cervusÂ I found the other day and that Ron and I had so much fun with. These cowries which are in the Gastropod family are Mollusks and this particular one can grow to a length of 5 inches long. The research I found this morning says that they are normally only found in depths of 1-40 feet but this is incorrect as I have photos of a big one we found on a night dive at the Superior Producer and that was around 100 plus feet. These beauties inhabit reefs often on the underside of a ledge overhangÂ or in deep dark recesses and ONLY can be found at night unless you get lucky like myself and find where one is hiding during the day. As you see here it is trying to camouflage itself by extending it’sÂ mantle over the entire shell and I made an arrow for you all pointing to it’s cute little eye, there is one on each side. The shell’s lustrous finish is produced by this fleshy mantle which as you see here is covering the entire surface. The shell itself which you can’t see is dark brown and mocha chocolate colors covered with white spots and is prized by shell collectors the World over. So again, sorry Mr. Octopus, but your not getting this one!!
I need to get moving, have to walk the dogs and than get to work for a Saturday sub dive, have a wonderful weekend!! Bye, Barry
May 19, 11 Comments Off on Hydatina physis, Bubble Snail, Bubble Shell, Aplustridae
Good morning readers, look what we found yesterday, a beautiful Bubble Shell, Hydatina physis, and it was found in just 15 feet of water!Â This shell goes by many common names such as; striped paper bubble shell, green-lined paper bubble shell, brown-lined paper bubble shell, bubble snail, bubble shell or rose petal bubble shell, I will let you pick the one you like the most. This species lives in shallow water, crawling and burrowing into the sand. It feeds on polychaete worms of the family Cirratulidae,Â mussels and slugs. Its color can vary from very dark to a pale pinkish white. The shell is thin, globose and fragile. The last whorl covers the rest of the whorls. There is no operculum. The large foot has lateral parapodia (fleshy winglike flaps). The large body cannot be fully retracted into its shell. The sensory mechanisms are well-developed. The egg mass is gathered on theÂ mantle before being attached to the sand by a mucous thread. The shell coloration is translucent white with transverse brown lines. The shell height is up to 57 mm, and the width is up to 46 mm.
The morning started out with me following the sub down to 50 feet to take some photos of the guests inside but half way down to meet them the whole reefÂ turned completely dark as a major tropical storm began to unleash it’s fury on the land above. At 30 feet I could hear the rain pounding the oceans surface and for the first time ever had to turn on both lights that are built inside my strobes to even see the mini-sub, it was that dark!! The passengers inside noticed I was having a hard time and we all began to laugh about how dark it was all because of this huge downpour above!! So while I was trying to photograph the sub Jonny was feeding some of his little fish above me that had been brought up from the deep days ago and on his way back into our protected lagoon he found this new creature! Like a good boy Jonny gentle collected it and set it inside my underwater holding area so I could then come back later and do a better photo shoot. When we exited the water it was raining so hard that I left my mask on the whole way back to the building, it was crazy!! It poured for around 30 minutes leaving Curacao soaked to the bone and I heard even did some flooding in low lying areas.
Later in the afternoon the skies turned blue and it was so hot outside, there was almost zero wind!! Curacao has been locked in this no-wind, calm sea, humid, overcast weather system for the past week, almost like the calm before the storm! I did my last dive of the day yesterday at around 2:30 taking this new find back out to the reef and letting it do it’s thing and taking all kinds of photos. While out there I found another cool shot that I will send out tonight.
Later in the evening Aimee and I went back to the Substation for a BBQ which was in honor of the school from Willington that has been here all week playing in the sub, diving and in general learning marine biology all around the island, “do great things kids”, the World is in your hands!!
Ok, off to do a walk with the dogs in the rain!! See you soon, Barry