The Sea-gram 

August, 2011


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Spotted Filefish

Spotted Filefish; photo by Paul Mila, Cozumel Mexico

See Story Behind The Photos, Below


Paul & Daughter Laura, Avalon N.J.

 Fred Chiappetta Photo

Welcome to the August issue of Sea-gram, the monthly newsletter for ocean lovers, divers, and "deep-thinkers," from 
Greetings from Avalon New Jersey, where we spent several days at a beach house with my daughter Laura and her husband Russ' family. 
Laura and I posed for this photo in front of the rolling blue surf on one of the most beautiful beaches in the country, at Avalon N.J., just north of Cape May.
Quote of the Month, by Tal Bixby of Reef Protection Inc. Tal is the inventor of the ELF (Eliminate Lion Fish mini-spear gun): 
"If yer lucky enough to go divin', yer lucky enough!"

Check out the Cozumel Lionfish Safari, lower right column.
In this issue's Story Behind The Photo, read how to take those great head-on shots: It's All About Positioning.
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 this month concerns Whaling, or more specifically, Anti-Whaling: A Battle Won, But The War Goes On!
Speaking about WHALES, I'll be presenting Close Encounters of a Gigantic Kind, about the adventures I've been privileged to have with whales, for the Audubon Society: Saturday, 2:00pm, September 17th, at Cold Spring Harbor Library. Stop by and say hello.

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I hope you enjoy Sea-gram !
 Paul J. Mila
 Story Behind The Photos . . . 
       It's All About Positioning    
                        By Paul Mila, Carle Place, NY 
 As underwater photographers, our goal is to shoot fish faces, not fish butts. New photographers are often disappointed in their results, but it takes practice, patience, and good dive skills to get those good head-on or three-quarter angle shots, like this grouper below.
The secret: don't worry so much about f-stops, aperture settings, and other technical adjustments. They're important, but use your camera's automatic settings and concentrate on getting into good position. I use a SeaLife 1000 with wide-angle lens and digital strobe.


Watch the grouper video below, and see how I let the shot develop by letting the grouper come toward me.
Approaching Grouper
Grouper on Palancar Reef
I waited for the grouper to approach by staying relaxed, with minimal movement. I also stayed below my subject so I could shoot upward, creating a better shooting angle.
At the right moment I switched from video to still-shot and took the photo, using available light, strobe off.
That's another tip: Know your camera. Be able to switch modes in seconds so you don't lose the shot.
Watch the video and you'll see how the shot happened.
I used similar techniques to shoot the spotted filefish in the headline photo above.
Another tip: swim close to the bottom, not high in the water column. For example, if the sea floor is 60 feet, swim low at 50-55 feet and glide along. Don't swoop down on fish, you'll just scare them away. 
Using this technique I shot both this spotted filefish video, and the still-shot at the top of the newsletter.
Both fish basically ignored me as though I was part of the background. Take a look:


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Sea-gram fan Martha Weisberg sent us this link to a FREE Under Water Photo magazine.

A great resource, with photo tips and the latest gear:

Under Water Photo Mag

Conservation Corner . . .
A Battle Is Won, But The War Continues
This month's conservation article is devoted to whales. 
Humpback Whale

Swimming Eye-to-Eye With a Tonga Humpback

Paul Mila Photo, Tonga South Pacific

 If you followed this season's series WHALE WARS on Animal Planet, you know that the Sea Shepherd Conservation Organization won the battle of the Southern Ocean, essentially kicking Japanese whalers out of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.
Click their link below for the latest Sea-Shepherd news.
 Unfortunately, the Japanese may return next year. If they do, the Sea Shepherds will be waiting for them.
In other parts of the world, critically endangered species of whales, such as Fin Whales, continue to be hunted. Iceland is one of the most notorious whale killing nations. Visit the National Resource Defense Council's Bio Gems website and view Pierce Bronson's short video:


In addition to Iceland and Japan, Norway and Denmark are also notorious whale hunting nations.

The actions of these nations acting together to subvert the International Whaling Commission's ban on commercial whaling is why I wrote the anti-whaling novel WHALES' ANGELS.

Available on Amazon, in both paper and e-book formats.



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Thanks for visiting; 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: It's All About Positioning
Conservation Corner: WHALES: A Battle Is Won, But The War Continues

Featured Article in this month's Conservation Corner: WHALES: A Battle Is Won, But The War Continues.


The Sea-Shepherds kicked Japanese whalers out of the Southern Ocean. But other nations continue to hunt whales.

Story below, left column.


Quick Links
Updates & Miscellaneous Features
Sexual Oppression
 By Fish?

Sea-gram reader Charlene Greco sent in this amazing story about the bluestreak cleaner wrasse, an Indo-Pacific fish that punishes female wrasses in their harem if they misbehave.

Click on this amazing story:

Anti-Feminist Fish?


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Bad Day At Work For A Commercial Diver!

Next time you have a bad day at work, think of Bob, a commercial saturation diver for Global Divers in Louisiana.

He performs underwater repairs on offshore drilling rigs. Below is an E-mail he sent to his sister.

She sent it to an Indiana radio station, which was sponsoring a worst job experience contest. Needless to say, she won.  Read his letter below...


Hi Sue,
Just another note from your bottom-dwelling brother. Last week I had a bad day at the office. I know you've been feeling down lately at work, so I thought I would share my dilemma with you to make you realize it's not so bad after all. Before I can tell you what happened to me, I first must bore you with a few technicalities of my job. As you know, my office lies at the bottom of the sea. I wear a suit to the office. It's a wet suit.

This time of year the water is quite cool. So what we do to keep warm is this: we have a diesel powered industrial water heater. This $20,000 piece of equipment sucks the water out of the sea. It heats it to a delightful temperature. It then pumps it down to the diver through a garden hose, which is taped to the air hose.
Now this sounds like a darn good plan, and I've used it several times with no complaints. What I do, when I get to the bottom and start working, is take the hose and stuff it down the back of my wet suit. This floods my whole suit with warm water. It's like working in a Jacuzzi. Everything was going well until all of a sudden, my butt started to itch. So, of course, I scratched it. This only made things worse. Within a few seconds my a** started to burn. I pulled the hose out from my back, but the damage was done.

In agony I realized what had happened. The hot water machine had sucked up a jellyfish and pumped it into my suit. Now, since I don't have any hair on my back, the jellyfish couldn't stick to it, however, the crack of my a** was not as fortunate. When I scratched what I thought was an itch, I was actually grinding the jellyfish into the crack of my a**.

I informed the dive supervisor of my dilemma over the communicator. His instructions were unclear due to the fact that he, along with five other divers, were all laughing hysterically. Needless to say, I aborted the dive.

I was instructed to make three agonizing in-water decompression stops totaling thirty-five minutes before I could reach the surface to begin my chamber dry decompression. When I arrived at the surface, I was wearing nothing but my brass helmet. As I climbed out of the water, the medic, with tears of laughter running down his face, handed me a tube of cream and told me to rub it on my butt as soon as I got in the chamber. The cream put the fire out, but I couldn't sh*t for two days because my a** was swollen shut. So, next time you're having a bad day at work, think about how much worse it would be if you had a jellyfish shoved up your a**.

Now repeat to yourself, "I love my job, I love my job, I love my job."
Whenever you have a bad day, ask yourself, "is this a jellyfish bad day?"


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Let's Go Hunting!

The Cozumel City Council through the Local Tourism Board and the National Park Arrecifes de Cozumel, have organized the Lionfish Hunting Safari as part of sustainable activities to control this invasive species.

Click below for details:  

Cozumel Lionfish Safari


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Sea-gram fan Tony D' Alessandro sent us this great video of Ospreys catching fish. I had no idea they could spot and catch bottom-dwelling fish like flounder. Amazing action to watch:

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Sea-gram reader Martha Weisberg notified us about an upcoming event:

 The Ocean Reglitterized gives viewers the opportunity to re-see and re-experience the wondrous and fragile nature of the ocean through image and sound.

Check out the link:

The Ocean Reglitterized 


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