ABOUT

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.

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Mar 6, 11     Comments Off

Good morning all, I found this little 3-inch baby Queen Conch the other day out in front of the Substation and ended up watching him for quite awhile. Conch’s are mollusks, the Latin name Mollusca means soft body, which appropriately describes these animals because they lack a true skeleton. They are also considered snails, and snails are by far, the largest class of mollusks, containing more than 35, 000 species! That’s why shell collecting is so popular! This Queen here will grow up to be 12 inches in length and could end up weighing five pounds. Unlike the large Queen Conchs that can easily be found walking around on top of the sand these juveniles have a better way of surviving, they live under the sand. For this photo I first found and gently dug him up, then cleaned his shell with my hand and finally laid him on his side as you see here which they really don’t like. When they are laying like this on top of the sand they know they are now vulnerable to prey, mostly octopus and so where else better to hide but under the sand. I laid quietly and watched as he slowly moved his whole body out of the shell and first looked around with his two beautiful eyes. Seeing that the coast was clear he or she then used it’s cool looking Operculum/claw to turn it’s shell so it was no longer exposed to prey and now the body was laying on the sand again. That claw is long, they jab it deep down into the sand and then use the power of their body muscle to turn their whole shell into the desired position, it’s so cool. Once he was turned over in the right position he then once again stuck he two eyes out from under the shell to check if it was safe to continue the process of burying himself. It only took five more jabs with the claw and he was gone, he had successfully managed to bury himself (shell included), it was like he was never there! He then ever so slowly moves under the sand filtering sand and eating non-stop, these guys are great for keeping waste off the bottom and sandy areas clean! Like everything on planet earth we have almost eaten these things to extinction, they are or have been over-harvested for years! While in Bonaire I noticed on the menu at a local restaurant they had conch soup but I thought everything was protected on the island?? I was told they are getting it from Venezuela although that would be hard to believe as it would be so easy for locals to steal it as they do here. Be aware of what your eating these days and help in not making yet another animal become extinct right before our very eyes, it’s always your choice what to order.
 
I had a great morning of trail building yesterday, we stayed out for three and a half hours getting an old piece of single-track along the coast re-opened and ready for business once again, will try it out sometime today. The puppy is still fighting a terrible case of Demodex Mange, we feel so sorry for her as she can’t stop scratching herself, it must be awful!
 
Better go, have a great Sunday, Barry

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