The Sea-gram
December, 2009
Christmas Tree Worms
        Christmas Tree Worms on Brain Coral, photo by Paul Mila, Cozumel Mexico (c)
Paul in Antigua
Welcome to December's Sea-gram, the monthly newsletter for ocean lovers, divers, and "deep thinkers" everywhere, from 
The headline photo for this holiday edition features a pair of Christmas Tree Worms  growing on brain coral. Appropriate for the season, no?
For camera buffs, I took the shot with my SeaLife 1000, set on macro-focus and macro-flash.
In The Story Behind The Photo, read about one diver's very intimate encounter with a Nassau grouper.

This month's Conservation Corner concerns our rapidly dwindling fish stocks. Will the next generations of divers and snorkelers (our children and grand-children) have any fish to see and enjoy?
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I hope you enjoy Sea-gram !
 Paul J. Mila
The Story Behind The Photo . . .
            The Grouper Kiss,
                   By Teri McDermott, Elgin, Illinois
 Grouper Kiss  

Sea-gram readers might recall Frank Kaufman's Cayman Islands intimate encounter with a grouper in the September Issue. Well fish lovers, as you can see, diver Teri McDermott has taken intimate grouper encounters to a whole new level.
Here is Teri's Story Behind The Photo:

The Grouper Kiss
By Teri J. McDermott

My brother Shawn treated me to a week-long dive trip to San Salvador island, Bahamas a few years ago when his usual buddy had to cancel at the last moment because of a family illness. The water was warm and clear, and the morning wall dives were spectacular.

But it was the shallow dive one day that was the most memorable of that trip. We descended to a sandy bottom and it felt just like floating in a gigantic aquarium, with coral heads scattered here and there decorating the underwater landscape. I had been to this particular site on a night dive the previous evening, and remembered where a beautiful spider shrimp hung out beneath one of the coral heads. So I beckoned Sandi, my buddy that day, down to the bottom to show her where he was. Sure enough, I easily located the shrimp's place of residence.

Sandi suddenly caught my eye and pointed over my right shoulder. To my surprise, there was a gigantic Nassau grouper curiously following my every move, and hanging close to see what I was pointing at. Throughout the rest of the dive, "Mr. G" followed me around like a puppy dog! He seemed to relish my petting him, rolling back and forth on the sandy bottom as I gently stroked his head and sides. I think he was attracted to my pink fingernails! I enjoyed our interaction so much, I took out my regulator and kissed him on the nose! I hoped he might turn into a prince, but no such luck - still a big ol' grouper last time I looked.
[Editor's note: Despite the shallow depth, Teri probably got "narked" (nitrogen narcosis for you non-divers). She forgot if you want a prince you kiss a FROG, not a grouper!]

Luckily one of the other divers I met on the trip had a camera handy, and took the shot. She sent it to me afterwards but we did not keep in touch. Unfortunately, I have no clue what camera she used, or other photo details. But I recall her name was Jodie.

About Teri:
Teri J. McDermott is a self-employed medical illustrator whose home and studio is near Chicago, in Elgin, Illinois. She is a water-aholic, swimming a mile a day in the summertime, and even met her hubby, Tom, scuba diving.
[Editor's question for Teri: Perchance, did hubby Tom start life as a frog . . . or a grouper?]

For additional information about Teri and her work, visit her website:

Conservation Corner . . .
Is Fish-less Diving Our future?
         Overfishing Threatens World-wide Fish Populations

Jamie Pollack, NY Field Rep,
                    PEW Environmental Group
Why It's Important . . . Imagine fish-less reefs!
Snappers & Coral
   Paul Mila photo, Cozumel Mexico

Did you know that over 70% of the world's surface is covered by water?  America's ocean territory (coastal waters 3 to 200 miles off Continental America, Alaska, Hawaii, and our Pacific possessions) covers nearly 4.5 million square miles, which is larger than all of our land territory.

Oceans create more oxygen than all of the forests in the world, influence planetary weather patterns, and absorb massive amounts of carbon dioxide, slowing the destructive forces of global warming.


Life on earth began in the sea. Under the sea, there are forests as diverse and spectacular as any tropical rainforest.  These are some of the last true wilderness areas in the world. Fish are essential to life in the world's oceans.They are the predators or prey of virtually every creature that swims with them or flies above them. 


Fish, in all their forms, are essential to the interconnected cycle of marine life best understood as a food web.  Every species depends on the others to exist.  Fish feed on algae, microscopic phytoplankton and each other. Oceans and fish are important to us.  More than half the world's population lives within 37 miles of a coastline[1], ocean fish feed billions of people, and the ocean is the most popular place people visit for recreation.  Fishing, diving, and just enjoying ocean wildlife play an important role in the United States' culture and economy.  Commercial fishing helped build America and continues to support coastal communities.

 The Crisis:

Unfortunately, many of the world's fish populations are in jeopardy. Overfishing - catching fish faster than nature can replace them - has weakened fish populations and ocean ecosystems, making them more vulnerable to such stressors as pollution, natural disturbances and climate change.

40 federally managed fish populations are currently experiencing overfishing in the U.S. and 46 are depleted to unhealthy levels. Two bills called the Pallone and Schumer would severely weaken the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), which governs America's commercial and recreational ocean fisheries. Schumer's "Flexibility in Rebuilding American Fisheries Act of 2009" would create loopholes in the MSA by extending deadlines for rebuilding depleted fish populations and by allowing fishery managers to put short-term economic gains ahead of healthy fish populations.


While some fishing interests object to efforts to address these problems because of short-term economic costs, the economic benefits of ending overfishing and rebuilding all U.S. fish populations to healthy levels are substantial, and the cost of further delay would be significant. A recent economic study found that rebuilding four Mid-Atlantic fish populations by 2007 would have generated a direct economic benefit of $570 million a year in perpetuity.


What We Can Do:

Please take action to SAVE OUR FISH and protect our coastal communities. U.S. ocean fish populations are a public trust which must be managed for the benefit of all Americans. To sign a petition to end overfishing by 2011, please click on the link: 

End Overfishing

A recent Chicago Tribune story, written by Jeff Wise of the PEW Environmental Group, highlights a related problem involving global warming's negative impact on coral reefs. Click the title link:

Reef Trouble Warns of Disaster

If you would like to learn more, please contact Jamie Pollack, NY Field Rep, Pew Environment Group at

[1] World Resources Institute, "Population Distribution within 100 km of Coastlines." 

About is your home for exciting dive adventure novels, YouTube videos of shark diving in the Bahamas, swimming and free-diving with giant humpback whales in Tonga, hunting for lion fish in Cozumel, and more.

Thanks for visiting. Enjoy your Holiday Season; spike that Christmas eggnog with some coconut rum and watch the fun!

We'll see you next month!
Paul J. Mila 
 Paul in Cozumel
75 Titus Avenue
Carle Place, New York 11514
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In This Issue
The Story Behind The Photo: Gouper Kiss.
Conservation Corner: Fish-less Reefs In Our Future?

Update from November's Whale Articles:

Sea Shepherd Conservation Organization's ship Steve Irwin is now sailing the Southern Ocean, searching for the Japanese whaling fleet in the vicinity of Antarctica. Below is part of their official press release:

"Fremantle, Australia
- After months of preparation and hard work by the dedicated volunteer crew of the Steve Irwin, Sea Shepherd has officially launched its 6th Whale Defense Campaign, Operation Waltzing Matilda.

"The ship departed from C-Dock, Victoria Quay in Fremantle at 10 AM on Monday, December 7th.

"A large crowd of Sea Shepherd supporters and local press were there to wave good by to the valiant crew as they embarked on an incredible journey that will take them thousands of miles south to one of the most remote and isolated oceans in the world."

For updates on their mission, click the link below:

Operation Waltzing Matilda

* * * * * * * * * * *

Jamie Pollack, the featured author of December's Conservation Corner article
is also a very active shark conservationist. The
Founder & Creative Director of Shark Savers,Jamie is sponsoring a major initiative to halt the increasing demand for shark fin soup in Asia, one of the greatest threats to sharks today.

You have a rare opportunity to make a difference. To learn how you can fund a "Say 'no' to shark fin soup" bus-stop billboard in China, featuring NBA basketball star Yao Ming, one of China's most popular and influential citizens, click the image link below:

China Billboard

Read Jamie's Conservation Corner article about the dangers of overfishing, Is Fish-less Diving Our Future?

Quick Links
Visit our website, where you can purchase exciting dive
adventures to enjoy reading under a palm tree on your next vacation.

The first story in the series:

A gripping undersea adventure, with ferocious sharks, friendly dolphins, and nefarious villains.
Set in the steamy Caribbean,

the chemistry between a sexy heroine and a bold, but sensitive, NYPD detective sparks a sensuous romance.

The story behind the story:
 On a vacation to Cozumel 10 years ago, I decided to give scuba diving a whirl. As our small group of intrepid tourists waited for our instructor, I noticed a tall woman approaching, wearing a broad-brimmed palm hat and huge sunglasses. Another crazy tourist, I mused. "Hello, I'm your dive instructor," she announced. This should be interesting, I thought. But within a few minutes I realized the lady knew her stuff, and could teach it effectively.

Curious, I asked our instructor about her background after our scuba lessons. She told me she had left her home in California several years earlier, to start her life anew in the Caribbean. We remained friends, and a year later she had started her own successful dive operation; no small feat for an American woman in Mexico.

I thought this interesting person could be the model for a strong, independent female character in a Caribbean dive tale. And so, my fictional dive heroine, Terry Hunter, was soon diving into DANGEROUS WATERS, the first of three, so far, exciting dive adventures.


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