Birthday Issue!
August, 2010
MilaBooks Logo
stoplight parrotfish

          Stoplight Parrotfish; photo by Paul Mila, Cozumel Mexico

It's not a dive boat, but greetings from Venice!
Venice, The Grand Canal

Welcome to the August anniversary issue of Sea-gram, the monthly newsletter for ocean lovers, divers and "deep-thinkers," from 
This August issue marks one year of Sea-gram, thanks to you readers who have enjoyed the articles & photos. Industry stats indicate that while the average newsletter open rate is about 17%, Sea-gram enjoys an open rate of almost 50%. I guess we're doing something right!
 In this issue's Story Behind The Photo(s), read what is was like to spend time with The Whales Who Came To Play!
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. 
In this month's Conservation Corner
 Take Action . . .  Save Dolphins!, read about a father & son's efforts to halt the slaughter of dolphins around the world, and especially in the Japanese fishing village of Taiji.
If you know someone who would enjoy reading Sea-gram, please forward a copy to your buddy, using the link at the end of the newsletter.
a copy 
 I hope you enjoy Sea-gram !
 Paul J. Mila
The Story Behind The Photos . . .       
  The Whales Who Came to Play!            
                     By Paul Mila; Carle Place, New York
Humpback with John Tressmer, Paul Mila photo, Tonga.
Playing with a humpback




We were free-diving in the Tonga Islands in 2007, on the Fiji-based live-aboard dive boat NAI'A. Our goal was to enjoy spending time with humpback whales every day. The locals refer to them as Dancers, since these whales enjoy sinuously cavorting with each other, as well as toying with any humans whom they occasionally encounter.
One of our intrepid group was John Tressmer, a veteran of previous NAI'A adventures, and an excellent free-diver. Notice his extra long free-diving fins and yellow weight belt, which counteracts the buoyancy of his wet suit. While most of us were content to snorkel or dive to 15 or 20 feet, John could easily plummet to 50 or 60 feet. John's skills came in handy when we encountered whales who were reluctant to join us, while they played with each other at around 100 feet.  
In the above photo, John has enticed a stubborn humpback to leave its friends in the deep blue and join our human pod near the surface.
Taking the photo below, I watched, mesmerized, as John played with two giants, one on the left diving and the other extending its 10-foot long pectoral fins while John spreads his arms, miming his mega-friends. Or were they miming John?
John playing with his friends; Paul Mila photo, Tonga
Playing with humpbacks
 Click this brief YouTube link to see, and hear, what it was like to play with the Dancing Humpbacks of Tonga:
Dancing Humpbacks of Tonga  
 * * * * *
1. When six feet or more from your subject turn off your flash and use whatever your camera calls the non-flash setting (Sea Mode, Sea&Sea Mode, SeaLife Mode, etc.).
At that distance the flash will be ineffective, actually resulting in a darker photo, and will magnify particulates in the water, causing backscatter.
2. Adjust the white balance using the camera's settings for the depth you are shooting. For example, for Sea-Life cameras, select "Above" or "Below" 25 feet, depending on your depth, and the camera will automatically correct the white balance. 
3. For large subjects, like whales, a wide-angle lens enables to you get close and capture the entire animal.
Conservation Corner . . .
 Take Action . . . Save Dolphins!
Japanese fisherman 
Japanese Fishermen Slaughter dolphins in Taiji
Photo courtesy of Earth Island Institute
Sea-gram fan Martha Weisberg sent in this link to a remarkable organization taking proactive steps to save dolphins world-wide, and especially in Japan.
Explore this very interactive site to learn how Ric O'Barry and his son Lincoln are saving dolphins, and what we can do to help:
On August 27th, Animal Planet will air The Cove, the award winning documentary which blew the lid off Japan's secret slaughter of the dolphins in the Japanese fishing village of Taiji.
About is your home for exciting dive adventure novels, YouTube videos about ocean creatures, and more.
 Thanks for visiting, and we'll see you next month!
Paul J. Mila 
 Paul in Cozumel
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: The Whales Who Came To Play
Conservation Corner: Takes Action . . . Save Dolphins!
Featured Article in this month's  Conservation Corner: Take Action . . . Save Dolphins!
Japanese fishermen in the village of Taiji continue slaughtering dolphins for meat and and selling dolphins to aquariums.
 Father & son, Ric & Lincoln O'Barry and the Earth Island Institute are trying to stop them. 
The two have developed a new television series, Blood Dolphins, which premiers on August 27th on Animal Planet. Lincoln is the director of this mini-series about the efforts of Earth Island Institute and his dad Ric to protect dolphins around the world.
For details, click on:
Read more about their story, below, left column.

Quick Links, Follow-ups & New Stories 

Sea Shepherd Update 
Thanks in large part to Sea Shepherd's activities, Galapagos has been removed from the list of World Heritage Sites Under Danger. 
Of course, the fight to save whales is a top Sea Shepherd priority. Prodded by Sea Shepherd, Australia is now moving in the direction of taking a more active stand against whaling in the Southern Ocean.
To read about these and other stories, click the link below:
Sea Shepherd News 
Don't miss next Friday's Whale Wars 2-hour finale on Animal Planet.
* * * * * * * * *
 Catfish On Your Menu?
Before you order a juicy catfish dinner next time out, ask where the whiskered critter came from.
Take a look at this video clip:
* * * * * * * *
Cozumel Lionfish Update 
Joyce Mustin provided us with an update about the successful lionfish tournament recently sponsored by Blue Magic Scuba:
 For more information contact
  * * * * * * * * *

The newsletter Cozumel-4-You carried this recent headline: Large Lionfish Reported Outside of the Marine Park.

 The story:
 "Lionfish are actively being hunted, captured, destroyed, and, best case scenario, eaten, within the Cozumel Marine Park. However, it is being reported that in other areas outside of the protected areas, lionfish, which have no natural predators, are running rampant. 
"Areas especially at risk include the lagoon areas in the northern end of the island, and the small atolls on the eastern side, from Punta Molas to Punta Sur.  Divers returning from these areas are reporting lionfish in abundance, with some specimens even 30 - 40 cm in length."   
For more interesting Cozumel news, local gossip, and more, check out:
Cozumel 4 You
* * * * * * * *
 Off-Beat Department
Hong Kong architect designs 344 sq.ft. apartment that morphs into 24 rooms, just by sliding panels and walls. Well worth watching. 
 My comment: Scary thought; if we don't address world-wide population issues, this could be your children's or grandchildren's living space of the future. Take a look:
Tiny Apartment = 24 Rooms
* * * * * * * *
A fun dive site, where you can rent a beachfront condo, view great dive photos, and more!
For a great Cozumel dive experience, check out: 
 Scuba With Alison
Link! Post a link to your web site here!
E-mail for details. 
Join Our Mailing List
If a friend forwarded Sea-gram to you and you'd like to receive future issues, let us know. Click the JOIN link above, or e-mail me at