The Sea-gram 

November, 2011


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Purple Tube Sponge

BOO!   Tube Sponge, photo by John Hand, Curacao

Joe & Paul

Dive Buddies Joe Troiano & Paul Mila

 in Cozumel

Welcome to the November issue of Sea-gram, the monthly newsletter for ocean lovers, divers, and "deep-thinkers," from 
Apologies for the late date of this issue, but the unexpected early arrival of my first grandchild, Ava Victoria Chiappetta, put us behind schedule. Baby Ava and her proud parents Laura & Russ are doing well, thank you!
Headline banner photo, BOO!, was sent in by John Hand, diving with Scuba Network in Curacao last month. No, it's not Oscar the Grouch from Sesame Street, or a Halloween Ghost, but a very creative and unusual view of a tube sponge. Nice shot, John!

Quote of the month was sent in by my web designer,
Terry Gallogly, of
"Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its trouble, It empties today of its strength."
In this issue's Story Behind The Photo, read about Chris Chidester's sea turtle encounters in Akumal Mexico.
 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 the impact of warming ocean temperatures on coral reefs.

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I hope you enjoy Sea-gram !
 Paul J. Mila
 Story Behind The Photo . . . 
       Green Turtle @ Akumal         
                        By Chris Chidester, Chickasaw, Alabama
This month's Story Behind The Photo was submitted by Chris Chidester.
   Green Sea Turtle
 Here is Chris' Story Behind The Photo:

This picture was taken at Akumal Beach, about 35 km south of Playa del Carmen, Mexico, on October 10, 2011 about 9:30am.

The weather was clear and bright and about 85 degrees F. The water was a little murky. We swam from the beach on the left side of the area near the boats and swim buoys. We were told the turtles were located in the far left corner of the swim buoys (about 150 yards out). The bottom had sand and sea grass.

We were slowly snorkeling along and within 50 feet of the shore a huge turtle swam by us in about 4 feet of water, heading toward the surface for air. I was not even ready with my camera! We went another 50 feet or so and saw a huge green turtle on the ocean floor eating sea grass. I stopped about 5 feet from the turtle and shot the picture from the surface. The water was about 6 feet deep. We snorkeled the area for about an hour and saw 6 turtles. 


Camera Details:

The photo was shot with a SeaLife DC800, 8.0 mp, in Ocean Blue mode, with natural light.

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Editor's Notes: I thought what made this photo interesting were the colors in the shell that Chris captured. Green turtles are not named for the color of the shell, but because their meat has a green tinge.
  Conservation Corner . . .
  Global Warming Impacts Reefs!
                                     By Paul Mila, Carle Place, NY
Reading about the impact global warming is having on coral reefs around the world is one thing. Seeing the effects first hand is very dramatic. 
Cozumel's reef system is still one of the healthiest in the world. Yet on my recent trip this past November I observed the most widespread coral bleaching I have ever seen during the twelve years I have been diving in Cozumel. On the deep Palancar Reef extensive areas are struggling to survive.
The Process:
When the water temperature exceeds healthy levels for the reef, usually the mid-eighties Fahrenheit, the coral expels the zooxanthellae algae living within its tissues, which produces  food that the coral consumes. The algae living within the coral is what gives the beautiful color we see. Deprived of nutrients, the coral begins starving, turning the signature white (bleaching).
Dive operator, Alison Dennis 
pointed out to us that the process is temporary, and usually reverses when the water cools below eighty degrees 
during the winter, allowing the algae to repopulate the coral. But repeated bleaching stresses the coral weakening it. And continued prolonged episodes eventually kills the coral.
This large brain coral, several feet across, has bleached out. Hopefully it will recover during the upcoming winter.
  Bleached Brain Coral
Paul Mila photo, Palancar Reef, Cozumel

This large bleached patch, also on Palancar Reef, is already partially dead.
Bleached Coral Patch
Paul Mila photo, Palancar Reef, Cozumel
What can we do?
Support "green" business activity and government policies that reduce stress factors that cause coral bleaching. These include not only global warming, but also industrial pollution.

About is your home for exciting dive adventure novels, YouTube videos featuring ocean creatures, and more.
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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


To forward Sea-gram to a friend, please click the "Forward email" link below.
In This Issue
The Story Behind The Photo: Green Turtle encounter in Akumal Mexico.
Conservation Corner: Global Warming Impacts Reefs
Featured Article in this month's  Conservation Corner: Global Warming Impacts Reefs!
Bleached Brain Coral
Bleached Brain Coral
Divers are observing the adverse impact global warming is having on reefs.
See story, lower-left column.
Quick Links
Updates & Miscellaneous Features

Paul Meets The Pirate

During my recent Cozumel visit I finally got to meet Pirata, Cozumel Kelly's one-eyed wonder dog. He is the sweet, friendly pooch who was featured in October's Sea-gram.

Pirata the Dog
Cozumel Kelly, Paul, and Pirata

For property management and rental services, visit Kelly Mattheis' (AKA Cozumel Kelly) website:  

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As Dolphins Die,
Gulf Residents Ask,
 "What About Us?"

Sea-gram fan Jeff Reid sent in this link to a troubling story about the lasting effects of the BP Gulf oil spill on local residents.
Check out:

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Sea Shepherd Update
The Whale Wars Continue!
The Sea Shepherds are gearing up for what we all hope may be the last anti-whaling campaign.
Read about their upcoming campaign, as they prepare for another confrontation with Japanese Whalers in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. Click on:
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Help Save The Whale Sharks !
The PEW Environment Group is asking for your help protecting endangered whale sharks from purse seine netting operations.
Check out their campaign:
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Blue Whale Encounter
Sea-gram reader and Sierra Club Officer Ann Aurelio sent in this video clip of a kayaker who stumbled across a feeding blue whale off the California coast.
An amazing 4-minute clip:
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Save Our Reefs -- Eat A Lionfish Today!
Sea-gram fan Martha Weisberg
sent in this link to new ways to prepare and eat lionfish
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Visit the Gray Whales
Two years ago I had the pleasure of visiting the Gray Whales of the Baja with Andiamo Tours.
 Baby Gray Whale
Baby gray whale, Jon Fellows photo 
Take a look at this short video clip of the exciting encounters I experienced with friends Judy Hemenway and Jon Fellows:
For your own gray whale encounter, visit their website:

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