November, 2010

 MilaBooks Logo
Green Moray

         Green Moray Eel photo by Paul Mila, Grand Cayman


Dive Buddies Joe Troiano & Paul Mila

Cozumel, Mexico

Welcome to the November issue of Sea-gram, the monthly newsletter for ocean lovers, divers, and "deep-thinkers," from

 In this issue's Story About The  Photo sectionread about a Bahamian shark dive, Fins To The Left, Fins To The Right, and you're the only bait in town!  (From FINS, by Jimmy Buffett). 
If you have a 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 this month, Sharks Matter!, was contributed by marine bio candidate David Shiffman. His story illustrates how scientists are developing non-lethal methods to study sharks and other marine life.

If you know someone who would enjoy reading Sea-gram, perhaps a friend in need of a winter "dive fix", please forward Sea-gram to your buddy, using the link at the end of the newsletter. 
To view past Sea-grams click our ARCHIVE link below:

I hope you enjoy Sea-gram !
 Paul J. Mila

The Story Behind The Photo . . . 
       Fins To The left, Fins To the Right  . . .              
                        By Paul Mila, Carle Place, NY 
 Shark passing  
We were on a Scuba Network trip, diving with Stuart Cove's Dive Bahamas. The dive site, just south of Nassau's New Providence Island, was called Shark Arena, appropriately named because numerous, very robust Caribbean reef sharks frequent the area.  We carried extra weight, to ensure we stayed on the bottom and did not accidentally float into a mass of feeding sharks.
I was shooting photos with my Sea & Sea MX10, equipped with YS40 strobe and wide-angle lens, while the Stuart Cove's photographer was snapping me so I could prove to my land lubber friends that I was not "chicken of the sea."
I saw the photographer suddenly pull her camera back so I did likewise, just as a large shark passed between us. I barely saw her over the top of a very impressive dorsal fin, and I never saw the other large shark pass behind me until I viewed the photo later.
Since the visibility was good and these local sharks are known to prefer sushi to roast beef we were pretty safe, but being surrounded by feeding, jaw-snapping sharks was a major adrenalin rush.
 For a look at our exciting shark dive, click on:
 * * * * *
1. When photographing large subjects use a wide-angle lens to capture the whole subject in your frame. Would have been nice to see the entire shark in the above photo.
2. If your subjects are close and moving rapidly, set your shutter speed on a faster setting to minimize blurring.
Conservation Corner . . .
      Sharks Matter!
                                  By David Shiffman, Charleston SC
This month's conservation article is contributed by David Shiffman, David Shiffmana Masters in Marine Biology Candidate at the College of Charleston.
The focus of his research is developing new, non-lethal methods for studying sharks.
The baby sandbar shark David was studying in this photo was later released unharmed.
Hopefully the non-lethal techniques that David describes below can be used to study other species (JAPANESE WHALING "SCIENTISTS", ARE YOU LISTENING?).
Here is David's Story:
Many people are afraid of sharks, but in reality, they have much more to fear from us than we do from them. The average American has a one in five chance of dying from cancer, but only a one in 3.7 million chance of being killed by a shark. On the other hand, humans kill tens of millions of sharks each year. The populations of many shark species have declined by over 90% in the last few decades. Clearly, a new paradigm in shark management is needed.

Scientists have proposed a new way of managing fisheries, and it's called "ecosystem based management". The details are complex, but basically we can better manage fishing if we know what target species are eating and how they fit into their local food chains.

The traditional way of determining what sharks are eating is "stomach content analysis", which often involves cutting open a shark's stomach to see what is inside. While direct and effective, this method has many drawbacks, including the fact that it involves sacrificing large numbers of the very animals we are trying to conserve.

Fortunately, a new method has come onto the scene. Known as "stable isotope analysis", it allows scientists to determine what animals are eating by analyzing the chemical content of a small sliver of muscle tissue. By comparing the isotopic signatures of shark muscle to that of suspected prey, we can figure out what sharks are eating without having to sacrifice any of them.

For my Masters thesis, I am using stable isotope analysis to analyze the diets of sandbar sharks in South Carolina. These animals are heavily exploited, responsible for over half of the United States commercial shark fishery. We hope that our data can help to better manage and conserve sandbar sharks, and we hope to encourage other scientists to use non-lethal research methods whenever possible.

David writes about sharks for the marine biology blog
To learn more about sharks, follow him on Twitter @WhySharksMatter

About is your home for exciting dive adventure novels, YouTube videos about ocean creatures, and more.
MilaBooks Logo
Click the reading dolphin and swim into our website
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: Fins To The Left, Fins To The Right . . .
Conservation Corner: Sharks Matter!

Conservation Corner Featured Article: Sharks Matter!

Read marine bio student David Shiffman's article about the plight of sharks, and new methods to conduct non-lethal research.


Quick Links
Updates & Miscellaneous Features:
Sunburned Whales?
As if whales didn't have enough to deal with, new reports indicates that depleted ozone is causing whales to get sunburned. Two stories below:


* * * * * *

NY Times Reports Dead Coral in Vicinity of BP Spill.

Scientists believe they have found the "smoking gun" regarding damage to deep-sea coral and other marine life related to the massive BP oil spill.

We'll continue monitoring the story as it develops, but for the latest details click:

 NY Times Story


* * * * * *

Bluefin Tuna In Big Trouble!
As we reported in the May issue of Sea-gram, the Bluefin tuna is critically endangered. 
Latest reports indicate that the black market value of bluefin stocks exceeds $4 billion, and that European governments 
and commercial fishermen have been intentionally under-reporting catch numbers and opposing regulatory efforts. This does not bode well for the recovery prospects of this amazing fish.
Click the stories below for more details:
* * * * * *
Sea Shepherd Update:
 During last year's whaling season, the Japanese whaling vessel Shonan Maru deliberately rammed and sunk the Ady Gil.
Click these You-Tube links for two amazing videos of the attack:
The good news is that for Sea Shepherd's 2010 campaign, dubbed Operation No Compromise, The Ocean Adventurer has joined Neptune's Navy.
It is much like the Ady Gil, but much faster, larger, and stronger than the Ady Gil. It will have a great impact on the  Antarctic Whale Defense Campaign!
Click the link below for more information about this year's anti-whaling campaign, and this amazing new vessel:

The Ocean Adventurer

* * * * * *
  Nothing to do with diving, but really funny department:
The only relationship between divers and anesthesiologists is that we're all concerned with delivering breathing gasses. 
Check out this link to The Laryngospasms, a group of singing anesthesiologists from Minnesota:
The Laryngospasms

* * * * * *
Dogs & Dolphins: 

Two Sea-gram readers sent in these video links to dogs who have a thing for dolphins, and I guess vice-versa.

Take a look:

Labrador & Dougie the Dolphin


Zeus & Roxanne


* * * * * *

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

* * * * *

I recently met Chris Weaver from Eco-Photo Explorers, a New York based organization formed in 1994 to help promote public interest in protecting the underwater environment through knowledge and awareness using underwater photography.
Click the link below, and "swim" around their very interesting web site:
Eco-Photo Explorers

Available 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