The Sea-gram 

January, 2011

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Queen Angel - Cozumel

           Queen Angel photo by Paul Mila, Cozumel Mexico

Paul in the snow

Where's The Plane To Cozumel?

Welcome to the January issue of Sea-gram, the monthly newsletter for ocean lovers, divers, and "deep-thinkers," from 
Writing this Sea-gram while waiting for another snowstorm to hit NY.  As you can see above, after the last blizzard I was ready to head South and go diving, mask & fins at the ready. But airports were closed, so no flights to Margaritaville.
Personal news this month involves our "Reading Dolphin" logo, in our newsletter banner.
The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office granted trademark protection to our buddy as a registered trademark. Wish it were that simple to protect real dolphins!
Would be great if our little feller had a name, so we're announcing a naming contest:
Best naming suggestion wins a signed set of my three books (DANGEROUS WATERS, WHALES' ANGELS, and FIREWORKS).
All suggestions, with the exception of Flipper, will be gratefully considered. Winner in February's Sea-gram.
 My friend Tony D'Aellassandro sent me this New Year's Thought. I think that whether we're divers, snorkelers, or ocean loving toe-dippers, these sentiments echo our adventurous philosophy of life:
"Twenty years from now, you'll be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do.
So, throw off the bowlines.
Sail away from safe harbor.
Catch the trade winds in your sails.
Explore. Dream. Discover."
Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens)
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This issue's Story Behind The PhotoDive, Dive, Dive, is about my brief encounter with a sea turtle.
 If you have a good photo with an interesting story, let me know at and I'll be happy to include your photo & story in a future issue. 
 Our Conservation Corner topic this month concerns the blue-fin tuna.
If you know someone who would enjoy reading Sea-gram, perhaps a friend in need of a good dive "fix", please forward Sea-gram to your buddy, using the link at the end of the newsletter. 
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I hope you enjoy Sea-gram !
 Paul J. Mila

 Story Behind The Photo . . .
         Dive, Dive, Dive !   
                                     By Paul Mila, Carle Place, NY
 Photographing a hawksbill turtle diving into the deep:
Diving Turtle, Cozumel

Dive, Dive, Dive . . .

Diving Hawksbill Turtle. Paul Mila photo, Cozumel Mexico

We were diving a site called Columbia Deep, in Cozumel, one of the southern-most reefs on the island, featuring tall coral column formations rising from a sandy bottom. This diverse undersea environment attracts a wide variety of sea life, and this dive was no exception. Among many other critters, we spotted a bar jack shadowing a southern sting ray as the ray cruised the bottom, searching for lunch buried in the sand.


Glancing up, I spotted a hawksbill turtle heading to the surface. Sea turtles can stay below for long periods, but they are air breathing amphibians and eventually must return to the surface. That's one reason why divers should avoid the temptation to grab one and hitch a ride: the turtle might need air and could drown if held down.

I've learned one of the best ways to get in front of a turtle for a nice head-on photo is to anticipate their route to the bottom, because they generally descend in a straight path without too much deviation as they angle back into the deepSo, from 88 feet down I watched as he broke the surface and spent several minutes gulping air, replenishing his blood with oxygen. Fully re-charged, he ducked his head, scanned the bottom, and headed down at about a 45-degree glide slope.  
I let myself drift into his route, very slowly, not much movement, easy breathing. I had plenty of time to make sure my camera was ready: wide-angle lens in place, strobe turned on, correct focus set; all I had to do was get in position. Finally he was in range, within five feet, and I tracked him in the viewfinder. Waiting until the last possible second until the turtle filled my frame,  I took the shot as he passed overhead.
Equipment: SeaLife 1000 camera with wide-angle lens and digital strobe.
1. For great head-on shots of sea life, don't chase; anticipate. Let your subject approach as you calmly lie in wait.
2. Use a wide-angle lens to let your subject get very close for great detail. 
3. Shooting upward instead of down enhances your subject's appearance in the photo.
4. Don't forget that you need the proper lighting that only a strobe can supply. The camera's built-in flash usually cannot deliver sufficient light at depth.
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Conservation Corner . . .
     Big Tuna = Big Trouble!
The May 2010 Sea-gram May Sea-gram Archive 
highlighted the threat to the magnificent blue-fin tuna in, The Economics of Extinction. The multi-national Japanese corporate conglomerate Mitsubishi is engaged in stockpiling blue-fin tuna in giant freezers, expecting that rising prices will skyrocket when the giant fish is commercially extinct, thus justifying the company's "investment strategy." 

Last May, a 500 lb. tuna was sold for a then-record $175,000, about $350 per lb., double the price only a year earlier.
The story below reports that this week a giant 754 lb. blue-fin tuna was sold at the Tokyo Wholesale Fish Market for a record $396,000, or $525 per lb., 50% above the May 2010 record.

Big Tuna Brings Big Bucks (Yen)


 With demand expanding for this tasty and profitable fish, especially in Asian markets, the prospects for the blue-fin's survival remain bleak.


About is your home for exciting dive adventure novels, YouTube videos featuring ocean creatures, and more.
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  Click the reading dolphin and swim into our website


Thanks for visiting; 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: Dive, Dive Dive; Shooting a Diving Hawksbill Turtle.
Conservation Corner: Big Tuna = Big Trouble; blue-fin survival prospects remain bleak.

Featured Article in this month's Conservation Corner: 

Big Tuna = Big Trouble!

With blue-fin tuna prices surging, there is little incentive to protect this amazing fish.

Quick Links
Updates & Miscellaneous Features:

Stingray & Buddy,

            Hunting For Lunch

During our dive at Columbia Deep we spotted a bar jack hovering over a medium size, about 4-foot wide, southern stingray. That's typical behavior for a bar jack, so named because of the blue bar running down their dorsal area. They have learned their patience will be rewarded with scraps from whatever meal the stingray uncovers as it forages in the sandy bottom.


I switched my SeaLife 1000 to video mode and managed to get some good footage as the ray stayed with us. Their typical behavior is to bolt when interrupted by divers. The ray's stinger can be plainly seen at the base of the tail, not the tip as some believe. Click on:

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Wild & Wacky Department

This funny video has nothing to do with sea life, but the voice-overs applied to animal behavior will make you laugh:

 Animal Humor


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Lionfish Update:


Last month we highlighted the lionfish situation in Cozumel, but the uninvited pests are invading the Atlantic seaboard as well as the Caribbean.

Floridians are aggressively trying to eat their way out of trouble.

Check out this story:

Lionfish Problem? Florida Bites Back!


Complimenting the above story is the perfect post-Christmas gift for your favorite chef, a Lionfish Cookbook. Click here for details: 

 Perfect Gift For A Seafood Chef


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Sea Shepherd Update


Captain Paul Watson and his intrepid crew are currently in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary dueling with Japanese whalers. 

In his newsletter Captain Watson writes:


"We are on their tail! Thanks to our direct action interventions, no whales have been killed this season in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary!  

 At this moment, we are engaged in a showdown between life and death, good and evil, greed and compassion. It is a battle we must and will win! Direct action makes the difference for these gentle giants, but your support makes it possible for us to be the most effective marine protection organization in the world today."  


One of Watson's three vessels,The Gojira, has located the fuel and supply vessel for the Japanese whaling fleet. The Sea Shepherds intend to keep this ship from delivering fuel and supplies to the harpoon boats and the factory ship.


For more on this action, click on:

Neptune's Navy Intercepts Japanese Whalers


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Art Goes Deep


 Artist Jason de Caires Taylor 

creates life-size cement sculptures of people and submerges them. Eventually, the sculptures become part of the underwater landscape and become artificial reefs, hosting a vide variety of marine life. He has been busy off the coast of South America . . .

Underwater Art


    . . . and also in Cancun, Mexico

 Deep Art In Cancun 


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




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    Check out Sea Turtle Charters!  


 If the East-end of Long Island NY is within reach, consider diving with Sea Turtle Charters. Captain Chuck Wade offers Block Island diving, caged shark diving off Montauk, and more. I did it & loved it! A great day on the water with not too many divers, i.e., not a "cattle-boat!"   


I took this shot of a large mako circling our cage on a Sea Turtle cruise: 


  Mako Shark


     For more information, click: 

   Sea-Turtle Dive Charters 


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The Global Coral Reef Alliance is a small, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to growing, protecting and managing the most threatened of all marine ecosystems-coral reefs. 



 Click the link below to find out all they do for the preservation and development of coral reefs.  


Next month's Sea-gram will feature the Global Coral Reef Alliance in more depth (pardon the pun) in 
 Conservation Corner



 Global Coral Reef Alliance  




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