ABOUT

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.

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Archive for the ‘Worms + Other Sea Creatures’

Nov 24, 16     Comments Off on Christmas Tree Worm, Night Diving, Macro Image

x-mas-tree-worm

Good morning friends, sorry about the lack of blogs as of late but I am way too busy these days to post. My last day of work was on the 11th and we leave Curacao on the 16th on December so as you can image we are busy! I have a long list of last minute photos that I am trying to get done but it seems like I have taken on more than I can chew. The rainy season has finally hit and this alone is making it very hard to get my topside shots finished because of the lack of sun these past few days but I am trying. I have been doing a lot of cycling getting ready for the 80k Curacao Extreme race which happens on the 4th of next month “weather permitting”. I’ve been taking my bike and camera gear into Punda these past days shooting as much architecture as possible to use for Curacao slide-shows back in the States, this has been a fun project but super exhausting. Getting around on the bike is so easy compared to walking or driving, I can photograph so much more in a short amount of time. I am also doing a ton of diving as many of you have seen on my Twitter account, if your interested just go to Twitter and put SquidLover3 in the search box. The dogs are fine, Inca has good days and bad, her hip is really starting to bother her but all in all she is doing well.

I have a super beautiful Christmas tree worm for your Thanksgiving viewing pleasure today that I shot on last nights super fun night dive.

Spirobranchus giganteus, commonly known as Christmas tree worms, are tube-building polychaete worms belonging to the family Serpulidae.worm is aptly named, both its common and Latin names refer to the two chromatically hued spiral structures, the most common feature seen by divers. The multicolored spirals are highly derived structures for feeding and respiration.

Spirobranchus Gianteius Peniez is similar to most tube-building polychaetes. It has a tubular, segmented body lined with chaeta, small appendages that aid the worm’s mobility. Because it does not move outside its tube, this worm does not have any specialized appendages for movement or swimming.

The worms’ most distinct features are two “crowns” shaped like Christmas trees. These are highly modified prostomial palps, which are specialized mouth appendages. Each spiral is composed of feather-like tentacles called radioles, which are heavily ciliated and cause any prey trapped in them to be transported to the worm’s mouth. While they are primarily feeding structures, S. giganteus also uses its radioles for respiration; hence, the structures commonly are called “gills.”

One major difference between Christmas tree worms and the closely related sabellida fan worms is that the latter do not have any specialized body structures to plug their tube holes when they withdraw into them. S. giganteus, like other members of its family, possess a modified radiole, usually called the operculum, that it uses to secure its hole when withdrawn into its tube.

As an annelid, S. giganteus possesses a complete digestive system and has a well-developed closed circulatory system. Like other annelids, these worms possess well-developed nervous systems with a central brain and many supporting ganglia, including pedal ganglia, unique to the Polychaeta. Like other polychaetes, S. giganteus excrete with fully developed nephridia. When they reproduce, they simply shed their gametes straight into the water where the eggs (and spermatozoa) become part of the zooplankton to be carried by the currents.

Have a great holiday!!

Barry

Nov 20, 15     Comments Off on Christmas Tree Worm, Open and Closed
Nov 5, 15     Comments Off on Giant Tube-Dwelling Anemone, Cnidarians
May 15, 15     Comments Off on Opening and Closing Magnificent Feather Dusters

Good afternoon friends, I have three Magnificent Feather Dusters, Sabellastarte magnifica for you today that I shot a few hours ago at around 50 feet. Watch as they open one by one and then quickly close, talk about cool animals! These animals have to be one of the coolest creatures on the reef and can be found almost everywhere. Feather duster worms open their feathery plumage to filter plankton and other microscopic nourishment from the ocean and sway back and fourth with each passing wave. Feather duster worms are found sprouting from holes in coral heads like bouquets of flowers. These worms are extremely sensitive to movement and will pull their plumage back into their protective tube in a split second if approached by a fish or diver. These three here have found a wonderful home right in the middle of a field of Finger Coral with a wonderful view of the reef!

Yesterday was another Curacao holiday and we made the most of our free day off! Starting at 6:30 am Aimee and I took off on our mountain bikes on a 25 mile ride, the farthest my dearest has ever pedaled to date. We more or less started near a little town called Montana and did this fantastic loop along the north coast and back taking us around two and a half hours, it was super beautiful! Once home we rushed out to the desert and filled all the bird baths up with water and left a ton of seed, and of course all the animals were there to thank us. We then went beach combing for an hour and then home to bed for a two hour nap with the dogs. At 4:00 we took off on yet another adventure with the dogs to Saint Joris Bay and collected driftwood and beach treasures till dark. Once we got home we washed two dirty and tired dogs and called it “game over”, what a fun day!

Have a super great weekend all..

Later.

Barry

Dec 30, 14     Comments Off on Open and Closed Christmas Tree Worm Photo

Hi friends, I have a fun “now you see it, now you don’t” kind of photo for you all today that I took during my resent search for brain corals. This is a very odd colored (but beautiful) Christmas Tree Worm, Spirobranchus giganteus shown in the top photo as “open” and the bottom photo shown as “closed”. Christmas Tree Worms are of the Class; Polychaeta, Order; Sabellida and Family Serpulidae. Serpulids build hard, calcareous tubes which are often hidden in the rock, coral, or, occasionally sponges. Their extended crown of colorful radioles form spirals and whorls. Like fan worms, the radioles are used to catch food, and will instantly retract when disturbed (bottom photo). A hardened structure, called an operculum, covers the tube opening when the worm withdraws. Horn-like growths that often extend from the operculum are useful in species identification. Christmas Tree Worms grow to about a an inch and a half in height, can be found from 10-100 feet and are one of the most common creatures found in the Caribbean.

We are back to getting rain almost every day which is needed to carry this island through the dry months ahead.

Fireworks went on sale a few days ago which means it has been crazyness starting at around 10:00am every day! Inca (our Dalmatian) is so freaked out now with every explosion that we can hardly get her to go outside to go pee, will be a horrible week for pets and wild animals! Here in Curacao as you can imagine there are NO firework regulations at all! This means China sends fireworks that would be illegal anywhere else on the planet and you don’t need a parent to buy them! Most of these fireworks are like small sticks of dynamite and the noise is insane, I am sure the hospitals will be busy this week!

Hope all is well out there, lots to do!

Barry

Sep 29, 14     Comments Off on Scalloped Fireworm, Chloeia sp, Segmented Worms
Aug 25, 14     Comments Off on Bearded Fireworm, Hermodice carunculata

Good morning from FLAMING HOT Curacao!! I have another fun blue-light photo for your viewing pleasure today that was shot not at night but during the day. Last friday I wanted to see if it was possible to shoot blue-light photos during the day and to my surprise it was!. But in order to do this and really make it work you have to shoot your subjects in the shady part of the reef, not in full sunlight. I found this beautiful bearded fire worm under our floating dock on one of our concrete walls looking for food alongside a little brain coral. Fire worms are one of the best blue-light subjects and to my surprise all the fire worms I found fluoresced a different color.

Bearded fireworms are usually between 5“10 centimetres (1.9“3.9 in) in length, but can reach up to 35 centimetres (13.8 in). They have a group of venomous white bristles on each side, which are flared out when the worm is disturbed.

Bearded fireworms are usually found on reefs, under stones in rocky areas of the sea, and on some mud bottoms. They live throughout the tropical western Atlantic and at Ascension Island in the mid-Atlantic. They can be found near ocean reefs and at depths of up to 150m. They are very common in Caribbean reef systems across the Antilles, where they are often spotted by divers at a wide range of depths. They are also common in the Mediterranean Sea in the coastal waters surrounding Cyprus and the Maltese archipelago.

The bearded fireworm is a slow creature, and is not considered a threat to humans unless touched by a careless swimmer. The bristles, when flared, can penetrate human skin, injecting a powerful neurotoxin and producing intense irritation and a painful burning sensation around the area of contact. The sting can also lead to nausea and dizziness. This sensation lasts up to a few hours, but a painful tingling can continue to be felt around the area of contact. In a case of accidental contact, application and removal of adhesive tape will help remove the spines; applying alcohol to the area will also help alleviate the pain. Cold water and ice soothe the pain of the poison that was injected from the bearded fireworm.

Yesterday was the hands down hottest day of the year and it was awful! I left the house at 6:00 am and headed out on a four hour mountain bike ride and was burnt to a crisp and out of water by 10:00! After getting home I grabbed the water hose and stood under it for at least five minutes and once dried off spent the rest of the day hiding inside from the heat!

Aimee took off this morning to the States for a wedding in Michigan and has to board four different planes just to get there, she will be wiped out tonight!

We have a dive at 2:00 today with our friends from the post office!

Hope your all enjoying your summer!

Barry

Nov 28, 13     Comments Off on Fireworms, Sea Creatures Seen Under Blue Light

Good morning friends, I first want to apologize for the lack of blog information this week but I just don’t have time!! We have had a crazy week here with our super cool little submersible and today again we have three dives scheduled! I just got back from a fast two hour mountain bike training ride and now have to get my gear on and get myself and the camera underwater for the first of the three dives. This Sunday is the “Curacao Extreme Mountain Bike Race”. I’m doing it with my buddy Dorian who is only 13 and I think we have to ride around 65 kilometers which is the short course, Stijn and his team mate have to ride 80-90k which is the normal course.

Above is another fun shot Aimee and I found late at night out on the reef with our blue-lights. This is a little Bearded Fireworm, Hermodice carunculata strolling around in search of a midnight snack on top of some glowing star corals. We normally see these fireworms out mostly during the day and boy do they love eating dead stuff!! Finding them at night is not as common but when searching with a blue-light they are very easy to spot!

Bearded fireworms are usually between 5“10 centimetres (1.9“3.9 in) in length, but can reach up to 35 centimetres (13.8 in). They have a group of venomous white bristles on each side, which are flared out when the worm is disturbed.

Bearded fireworms are usually found on reefs, under stones in rocky areas of the sea, and on some mud bottoms. They live throughout the tropical western Atlantic and at Ascension Island in the mid-Atlantic. They can be found near ocean reefs and at depths of up to 150m. They are very common in Caribbean reef systems across the Antilles, where they are often spotted by divers at a wide range of depths. They are also common in the Mediterranean Sea in the coastal waters surrounding Cyprus and the Maltese archipelago.

The bearded fireworm is a slow creature, and is not considered a threat to humans unless touched by a careless swimmer. The bristles, when flared, can penetrate human skin, injecting a powerful neurotoxin and producing intense irritation and a painful burning sensation around the area of contact. The sting can also lead to nausea and dizziness. This sensation lasts up to a few hours, but a painful tingling can continue to be felt around the area of contact. In a case of accidental contact, application and removal of adhesive tape will help remove the spines; applying alcohol to the area will also help alleviate the pain.

Thanks for tuning in, Barry

Oct 9, 13     Comments Off on Black Spotted Feather Dusters, Open and Closed
Aug 25, 13     Comments Off on Tiger Tail Sea Cucumber, Holothuria thomasi
Jul 10, 13     Comments Off on Red-Spotted Horseshoe Worm, Segmented Worms

I’m back!! Is this week going by fast or is it just me?? We have two sub dives today, one at 9:00 and another at 11:00, both runs are paying customers and yours truly will be underwater with them taking their photos.

This is one of my favorite little reef decorations called a Red-Spotted Horseshoe Worm, Protula sp. Horseshoe worms are know as Calcareous tube worms, class; Polychaeta, order; Sabellida and family; Serpulidae. Serpulids build hard, calcareous tubes which are often hidden in or on rock, coral, or occasionally sponges. Their extended crown of colorful radioles form spirals and whorls. Like Christmas tree worms (fan worms), the radioles are used to catch food, and will instantly retract when disturbed, (like in the movie Avatar). A hardened structure, called an operculum, covers the tube opening when the worm withdraws, Horn-like growths that often extend from the operculum are useful in species identification.

We had some island excitement here today with robbers being chased by the police and the Dutch Navy and it all happened behind the Sea Aquarium. What little I know is two guys robbed a store and used a scooter as a get away vehicle and ended up in the desert behind the aquarium, in fact they found their way to my hiking/biking trails. Then the Navy shows up with a giant helicopter, shots were heard, one guy captured and they spent all day looking for the other guy, that’s all I know.

Do something good for our poor Earth today, it all helps!!

Barry

 

Jul 3, 13     Comments Off on Social Feather Duster, Bispira brunnea, Sabellida

Good morning from Curacao!, We finally got a little rain here this morning and for once the hurricane winds have stopped, I almost forgot what calmness is like! The island is fairly quiet right now but will soon be filled again with tourists on holiday and for those of you wondering the winter months here are by far the busiest.

I have a cool open and closed photo for you today of a cluster of Social Feather Dusters, one of my favorite creatures on the reef. I love to watch these worms sway back and forth with every wave that passes overhead, it’s very relaxing. Also for those of you divers not in a big rush, look very closely at the bases. You will find shrimps and little crabs not to mention the occasional tiny fish hiding from lurking danger. Feather dusters, also known as fan worms, do not appear to be worms at all, because their bodies are hidden inside parchment-like tubes attached to the reef. The flexible tube is constructed of fine sand held together with glue that is secreted by collar glands just below the head. Feather dusters have a highly modified head with a crown of feather-like appendages called radioles that are normally extended from the tube. These work as both gills, and for capturing plankton, which is moved to its mouth at the center of the feathery crown. The dramatic colors and patterns of the radioles are often the keys to visual identification. Feather duster worms are very sensitive to nearby movement and changes in light intensity and, if disturbed, instantly retract the crown as seen in the second photo.

Social Feather-Duster Worms are well named. These worms live in groups, making them social. Their heads look like an old-fashioned feather duster that you might use to sweep dust off of your furniture.

Social Feather-Duster Worms are tiny. If you look closely, you’ll see that each worm lives in its own tube. The tubes are small; about the size of a soda straw and barely 1/4 of an inch across. The worm’s head sticks out of the end of its tube. If danger threatens, it can pull its head down into its tube in the blink of an eye. The worm makes its tube using calcium-based minerals, similar to our bones.

I have lots to do as usual, be back soon, Barry

Mar 28, 13     Comments Off on Giant Fireworm, Bristle Worms, Polychaetes

Last night we went to see “The Croods” and it was fantastic!! This is yet another realistic animated Dream Works movie that will leave you in tears from laughing, it’s really fun!!

That’s about it, have a wonderful fun filled day!!

Barry

Oct 12, 12     Comments Off on Split-Crown Feather Duster, Anamobaea orstedii

Hey guys, I am having a hard time as of late finding time to get these blogs posted, the mornings are just so busy!! We have three sub dives today starting at 9:00. Our 1:00 dive will be really fun as we will have three top BMX Word Champions joining us! The names are as follows, Robin van der Kolk (Word Champion), Raymon van der Biezen (4th in London) and Malyk Byndloss, the American Champion, should be a lot of fun!

Here is a before and after of a beautiful Split-Crown Feather Duster, Anamobaea orstedii. The top photo shows how these cool animals look when open and the bottom photo is what happens when they are disturbed, they retreat deep down inside their tubes for safety!

I just got out of the water from my first dive, that’s one down two to go!! The ocean is dead calm still morning and there is zero wind, you want to talk about HOT!! I was told we had some isolated storms in the area so at least there is a chance for some good rain.

Tomorrow morning I am leaving real early for a much needed long bike ride to the North coast, I need to get at least three hours in to make up for all my days of trail work which I will continue Saturday evening and on Sunday.

Have a wonderful weekend, Barry


Aug 31, 12     Comments Off on Lettuce Sea Slug, Elysia crispata, Opisthobranchia

Good morning, it’s Friday!! We have had a very busy week here at the Substation and today will be no different. Yesterday I did three dives and then at 5:30 met Stijn and my new rider for an hour and a half fast paced ride thru the wilds of Curacao, it was great! This was the first ride I have done with Stijn since we have been back from the USA and let me tell you he has gotten even faster!! He will be helping me tomorrow and Sunday working on the new mountain bike trail which is currently underway. Last night as we all rode by the area I said; “let’s go try the new trail” so we carried our bikes a short way and then did the first test ride ever on the new trail, it’s bound to be a big hit as it rolls so nice! I’m keeping the entrance closed and hidden until the it’s all finished, don’t need the constant interuptions while we are working.

We are getting some on and off rain and it is so wonderful!! I have noticed that even the desert has greened up a bit which means we need to get this trail done fast before the big rains come or we will be in trouble!

Your photo this morning is of a sexy little Lettuce Sea Slug, Elysia crispata that Aimee found a few days ago on our Pipefish dive. These little Mollusks are very common here but I must say to find a blue one is quite difficult, normally they are green and white or white with green and red tints. These are most commonly found in the shallows but occasionly we see them deeper blending in with the reef. I have noticed that many of the blue or purple one’s are usually found on or around corals so maybe this has something to do with the coloration?? Any ways they are super fun to watch and always a joy to see on any given dive.

Thats about it folks, I need to get out underwater! Have a wonderful day!!

Barry

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