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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May 15, 17     Comments Off on Sirenas MD, Collecting Sponges for Medical Research

Good morning readers, did you all have a great weekend out there?? I trust all of you did something for your mothers or at least dropped them a line.

Today I have an exciting photo line-up from underwater of a company named SIRENAS www.sirenasmd.com recently funded by the Bill Gates foundation collecting deep-sea sponges with a submersible owned by Substation Curacao. So first off, who is SIRENAS you ask?? Here’s a little blurb from their home page but please if you have time check their site out; “Sirenas is a company with a validated drug development platform designed to bring unparalleled chemical diversity to high-value therapeutic areas. Our mission is to generate a proprietary and partnered pipeline of breakthrough drug leads. We currently specialize in the discovery and development of new chemical entities that modulate the human immune response in specific ways, with application in oncology and infectious disease”. So in short, very short, they collect sponges “for instance” in hopes of finding a cure for some of the top diseases on the planet. While in St. Eustatius a few weeks ago I spent five days with this company helping them to photograph and video the collected specimens from the deep and the variety and colors of sponges they found were mind blowing! The photos above show part of the retrieval process that happened each day two and a half miles off shore. This particular day I was shuttled out by boat in rough seas and once given the “OK” sign that the sub was directly below (at around 65 feet) I jumped in with camera in hand and joined my buddy Tico seen here collecting and bagging the sponges for transport to the surface. We both dove down into some of the clearest most beautiful water I had ever been in, I bet the visibility was at least 150 foot! Then for the next 10 minutes I photographed and watched as Tico carefully bagged each sponge for transport to the surface which as you can see from the last photo it took many bags. The reason this is done is because if the sponges were left in the basket during the two and half mile trip/tow back they would all float out. Once the sponges seen here were removed the submersible then ascended to the surface and once again was hooked up to a long rope and towed back. During the tow back the scientists are not able to get out so imagine a ride in rough seas being pulled by a small boat and NO you can not see a horizon line or the surface you are looking backwards underwater, this would make me so sick! When the sponges get back to ship, which is an hour before the sub one of the scientists from SIRENAS immediately starts with the process of logging them and bagging them while yours truly was there to photograph each and every one. One of the coolest sponges brought up was an Army green color and had the most beautiful scent in the world! In about a hour the whole ship smelled like flowers or candy, it was like a smell we all knew but no a person could pin-point it, it was truly an unforgettable experience! Once again I love sponges…

Monday, Monday, so much to do so little time…

Have a great day,

Barry

 

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