The Sea-gram
January, 2010
Green Moray, injured
                                     Green Moray Eel,  photo by Paul Mila, Cozumel Mexico (c)
                  This moray suffered a torn lower jaw about a year earlier, but  has managed to heal.
December Blizzard

Welcome to the January 2010 New Year's issue of Sea-gram, the monthly newsletter for ocean lovers, divers and "deep-thinkers" everywhere, from

What's wrong with this picture? Well, for one thing, I'm wearing a snowsuit instead of a wetsuit, courtesy of the December blizzard that clobbered Long Island NY and the North-East. So my number one New Year's Resolution was to get my frozen butt back down to the land of margaritas & coral reefs as soon as possible!
I started writing this issue on a frigid, wind-whipped January evening, but hopefully I'll finish writing this Sea-gram in a much warmer Cozumel.

Enjoy some year-end humor from the folks at JibJab at
the following link:
JIbJab 2009 Review

If you're still making your 2010 New Year's resolutions, consider these seven wise thoughts a Sea-gram reader contributed. She did not know the original source, but someone must be communing with our cetacean friends: 
Advice From A Dolphin:

Have a playful spirit.
Be curious.
Find someone you really click with.
Sound out new ideas.
Glide through the day with ease.
Find your life's purpoise. [sic]
Jump for Joy!
Source unknown; Contact us if you know.
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Speaking of dolphins, a friend sent this link from a NY Times Online article, about a scientist who believes dolphins should be granted certain rights, and treated as "non-human persons" because of their intelligence and complex brain structure.
Click to read more:
Dolphins = "Non-human persons"?

Still not convinced? Check out this short YouTube clip about a dolphin pod which has invented a very unique fishing method:
Pretty Smart Fishermen!

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In this month's Story Behind The Photo, read about a diver's amazing encounter with a curious seal in Mexico's Sea of Cortez.

 If you have a good photo with an interesting story, or would like to share a good dive yarn, let me know at and I'll be happy to include your story in a future issue. 

Our Conservation Corner topic is an update to the Invasion Of The Lionfish article in August's Sea-gram.
Last month we had continuing problems using an embedded Forward link, so if you'd like to forward a copy of Sea-gram to a buddy please use the Forward link at the bottom of the newsletter.
Click our ARCHIVE link below to view past Sea-grams: 
I hope you enjoy Sea-gram !
 Paul J. Mila
The Story Behind The Photo . . .       
               By Laura Weisberg; Durham, North Carolina
seal touch 
Laura's Story Behind The Photo

Now that I live in North Carolina, I don't see my family much in Long Island. My mother and I scuba dive together when we can. One day last spring, I was asked if I would be interested in diving the Sea of Cortez in October 2009. It was definitely a better choice than working. So, I met my mom and other divers from Long Island NY on a ScubaNetwork trip to La Paz, Mexico.

 I can't say that I plan on going back to the area, since there is not much sea life or coral. However, diving Los Islotes was a fun experience. We went there several times during the week. The sea lions were very curious about us. One pup was interested in how my camera tasted, and he put my camera's wide-angle lens into his mouth repeatedly. Too bad the other pictures did not come out clearly.

I do not know which diver belongs to the arm in this photo. All I know is that I'm happy I got one decent photo, since my camera was dying on me with fully charged batteries. I later discovered that my batteries were not good (time to replace them).

The excitement and wonderment one feels when diving with these beautiful creatures is difficult to explain. The experiences with the sea lions boost your endorphins and make you laugh and smile under water - just be careful you don't inhale!

Photo details:
Camera: Sea Life DC600 with strobe set on automatic. Not sure if strobe was actually used. (Probably not; Ed)

Photo was taken in approximately 20 feet of water. Visibility was "grainy" as sand was kicked up by the divers and sea lions.

Place: Los Islotes in Sea of Cortez near La Paz, Mexico

About Laura:
Laura M. Weisberg is a certified operating room nurse currently working in orthopedic surgery, and finishing her master's degree in nursing education. She has always loved water and was described as a dolphin when visiting her grandparents as a child. Laura started diving in 2006 and has approximately 130 dives (she lost count). When she can, she makes weekend trips to the North Carolina coast and dives.

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Laura's very nicely composed photo has rounded dark corners, called vignetting. It occasionally happens when using a wide-angle lens if the lens & camera are not compatible, or if the lens is not installed/fitted correctly.
 In this situation, Laura added the vignette effect on purpose for dramatic effect, using her computer.

There are several ways to eliminate or minimize an unwanted vignette effect:
1. Slightly zoom the lens before taking the shot.
    You will lose a little wide-angle capability, but       eliminate or reduce the vignette effect.
2. Crop the photo, eliminating the corners.
3. Photo-shop-out the corners by copying matching adjacent areas of the photo.

Conservation Corner Update: 
Lionfish Invade Cozumel
Voracious Predator Threatens Reefs !
Lion Fish in North Carolina

   Lion Fish Photo by Laura Weisberg, North Carolina.

For those not familiar with the beautiful, but dangerous, lionfish (touching those poisonous spines will ruin your day!), this colorful photo was taken by Laura Weisberg in North Carolina waters. That's a good example of how far these Pacific natives, with no natural predators to inhibit their migration, have spread after several escaped from a Florida aquarium damaged by hurricane Andrew several years ago. Some have been sighted as far north as Maine during summer months.

Scientists genetically testing captured lionfish have determined that the majority of the thousands now populating Caribbean reefs and Atlantic shores are descendants of those Florida escapees. However, some are likely the offspring of lionfish that aquariists have occasionally dumped from their private tanks.

In the August Sea-gram we wrote about how these fish had finally penetrated Cozumel's reefs, including a YouTube clip of an unsuccessful hunt. This past November we encountered numerous lionfish, and below is a YouTube video showing a successful capture by Chucho, a local dive master. 

It's amazing to watch how Chucho skillfully maneuvers the lionfish into a plastic bag using his bare hands (don't try this at home, folks)! Near the end of this 2-minute clip, Chucho points out a large green moray eel swimming below us hunting in the open:

Chucho's Lion Fish Hunt

On this recent January visit, we saw lionfish on only two of eight dives. We probably missed some, since the ones we did see were hiding deep inside reef crevasses. But the few we did see were very big compared to the juveniles we encountered in November, indicating that the population is maturing, enabling them not only to breed, but also to eat more and larger native reef fish.

Many ideas have been advanced about how to deal with the problem. One of the best I've heard involves teaching humans to develop a taste for lionfish as a delicacy. After all, history has shown that when we Homo Sapiens put our minds to it we can drive any species to extinction.  

Hopefully, initiatives such as adding lionfish to restaurant menus, and the lion fish tournament mentioned in Undercurrent Magazine (article above, right column), can halt, or at least slow, the proliferation of these voracious predators.
About is your home for exciting dive adventure novels, YouTube videos about ocean creatures, and more.
 Well, as you can see below, I achieved New Year's Resolution #1: Trading snow-covered pine trees for Cozumel's coconut palms and white sand.

My other 2010 New Year's resolutions include:

1. Making progress on the next fictional adventure for dive operator Terry Hunter and her scuba diving hubby, ex-NYPD detective Joe Manetta.
2. Completing a joint non-fiction effort with co-author Judy Hemenway, working title BUBBLES UP!
3. And finally, from my "bucket list," visiting the friendly gray whales in the Baja's San Ignacio Lagoon in February.

Drop us a line if you'd like to share your New Year's resolutions with other Sea-gram readers.
Thanks for visiting, and we'll see you next month in the Baja!
Paul J. Mila 
 Paul working on the beach
75 Titus Avenue
Carle Place, New York 11514
To forward Sea-gram to a friend, please click the "Forward email" link below.
In This Issue
The Story Behind The Photo: A diver's Encounter With a Curious Sea Lion
Conservation Corner: Update on Cozumel's Lionfish Problem
Featured Article in this month's  Conservation Corner: Invasion Of The Lionfish -- Update.

Since we first wrote about the Cozumel lionfish invasion last summer, we thought a winter update would be interesting.

Many innovative approaches are in the works to eliminate the growing problem. Some Cozumel divemasters, such as Chucho, visit have taken it upon themselves to try and control the spread of these destructive Pacific invaders. Here, Chucho has literally bagged a juvenile lionfish (see his video in Conservation Corner).

Captured Lion Fish
    Chucho bagging a lionfish; photo by Paul Mila

While writing this article, I came across a unique initiative mentioned in the current issue of Undercurrent Magazine: an organized lionfish hunt in Cozumel. Story below:

Cozumel Lionfish Tournament with Blue Magic Scuba: Since mid-summer, lionfish have proliferated on Cozumel's reefs, and Blue Magic Scuba has decided to do something to control a predator threatening to decimate other marine life.

From February 1 through June 15, Blue Magic is sponsoring a Lionfish Tournament, and awarding prizes for such accomplishments as the most killed and the largest. You spot the lion fish and the divemaster catches it. The more lionfish caught, the more chances you have to win.

Prizes include free diving at Blue Magic Scuba, a $500 gift certificate for gear at the local dive shop of your choice, and a four-night stay at the Fiesta Americana, which  includes diving. For details, go here and click on the Lionfish tournament link in the lower left, or get the latest update here. For more information or to book, call Blue Magic toll-free at 866-712-6161 or e-mail

Undercurrent Magazine is a great resource for divers. Check it out: Visit

Read the rest of the lion fish update, in Conservation Corner, lower left column.

Quick Links

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

The most recent story in the series:
The Story Behind The Story:
I had completed WHALES' ANGELS and was noodling sequel ideas for my main characters, diving diva Terry Hunter and her dive partner husband, ex-NYPD detective Joe Manetta. They had never dived my home surf of New York City, most of which is surrounded by water. So they were overdue for a dive adventure in our local aquatic environment.

I also wanted to write a story reminding readers of the daily sacrifices made by our brave men and women fighting terrorism on the front lines overseas.

FIREWORKS begins in the rugged mountains of Afghanistan, where a U.S. Navy SEAL uncovers a deadly Al Qaeda plot, targeting New York City, timed to disrupt the upcoming July 4th celebrations; hence the title: FIREWORKS.

Reviews for FIREWORKS:
AllBooks Reviews

Westbury Times

FIREWORKS is available from all online booksellers, in bookstores by request, and directly from my publisher at a discount through

For personally signed copies, please contact me directly at

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A fun dive site, where you can rent a beachfront condo, view great dive photos, and more!
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January Guest Links:

All Authors, whether "traditionally" published or "self" published, should check out this great review and promotional service:
AllBooks Reviews
Where books are appreciated and judged by their merits

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National Wildlife Federation, one of the leading conservation organizations, will soon be accepting entries for their 2010 Photo Contest.
Click the link below to view the 2009 winners. Entry details will be posted on their site during the next week or so.

My favorite is Steffen Binke's amazing winning shot of a minke whale.

Available Link! Post a Guest Link to your web site here!
E-mail for details.

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