In 2004 Barry and Aimee Brown left the comforts of their South Dakota home and moved to a small island in the Caribbean called Curacao. Twelve years and thousands of dives later Barry is now an internationally published underwater photographer and Aimee is one of the top animal trainers on the planet. In the spring of 2016 Barry and Aimee were invited to travel to Washington, DC, and speak at the Smithsonian Institution where Barry gave multiple presentations to the resident scientists on “Curacao Life Above and Below”, displaying the diversity of animal life around Curacao on land and under the sea. Aimee gave a presentation on “Dolphin Training: A Baby’s First Years”, covering the early interaction and fundamental learning of young dolphins. They also spent time in the museum as special guests of: “The Expert Is In” set up at tables answering questions and showing photos, plus doing hands on demonstrations.
Transitioning to underwater photography was fairly natural for Barry, although he had only logged 35 dives when he arrived in Curacao, as he’d done a lot of nature photography back in the States. Thinking back to his first night dive, he states: “I remember it like it was yesterday, we were so scared but completely hooked!” Thanks to Curacao’s year-round warm temperatures and crystal clear water, Barry is able to spend a lot of time diving, whether taking photos, testing products or just having a good time.
Outside of photography, Barry is one of the top commercial paleontologists in the world and continues to collect new fossils every year. His fossils are on display all over the world, and can be seen locally at the Denver Museum of Natural History in Colorado. Barry is also an ex-mountain bike racer who recently traveled to Tucson to help test mountain bikes for Outside Magazine. Upon moving to Curacao, and recognizing that it was lacking in single-track trails, Barry made it his mission to begin building hiking and biking trails throughout the desert areas. Thanks to his efforts, participants of the 2006 (UCI) World Cup Mountain Bike Race, which was held in Curacao, raced on the very trails he had made. Barry also trains elite local youth in mountain biking, and was proud to see his students win the recent Caribbean Championships and earn scholarships to America.
Barry’s work is regularly seen in Sport Diver, Scuba Diver, and Ranger Rick magazines. His deep sea images are on display at the Smithsonian Institution and have been used by the Curacao Post office as exclusive stamps avaiable in two different series, Deep Sea fish and Deep Sea Creatures.
One of their greatest creations has been the making of the first ever compete set of all natural coral letters which were recently displayed at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. This project took hundreds of dives and countless hours of searching the reef for Brain Corals and staring at them in hopes of finding the next letter, the end result was not one but two complete sets which are now for sale.
Aimee Brown has been a profesional animal trainer for more than 25 years, beginning her career with marine mammals in Florida working with bottlenose dolphins, sea lions, seals, otters and exotic birds. She went on to work with dolphins in several Caribbean countries including Cancun, Mexico and Roatan, Honduras where she was first exposed to the possibility of training dolphins for open ocean programs. Aimee and her husband Barry have been living and working on the Caribbean island of Curacao for the last 12 years, where she has worked for both the Curacao Dolphin Therapy and Research Center, and Dolphin Academy. While working at CDTC and Dolphin Academy she has had the opportunity to train in many different venues, including the d0lphin assisted therapy and rehabilitation program, research projects, public education programs, and continues to train dolphins for their open water program.
For many years, Aimee has been teaching a dolphin education course to guests who would like to know more about the anatomy, behavior, social structure and training of one of earth’s most facinating creatures. Teaching this course gives Aimee the chance to not only share her knowledge, but hopefully to inspire others to learn more about dolphins and the other animals we share this planet with.
When Aimee is not working with the dolphins, she volunteers at a local street dogs rescue organization CARF (Curacao Animal Rights Foundation), helping to teach positive reinforcement training to both dogs and volunteers. Through the years, she and Barry have fostered and adopted out numerous “Curacao West-pointers”, as the local mixed breeds are known. For more information about her dog training, visit her website at TrainingFido.com. Aimee has also been a volunteer at Rancho Harmonia with their equine therapy program which centers on disabled local children and their interactions with horses. In her free time, she also enjoys hunting for sea glass, making jewelry, mountain biking, swimming and just about anything involving being outside in nature.
Below is a list of educational programs that Barry and Aimee offer. They are very flexible and can cater to the needs of your school or organization.