December 2016
For ocean lovers, divers, and 
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Christmas Tree Worms in Cozumel
Christmas Tree Worms Growing on Brain Coral, Cozumel Mexico, Paul Mila Photo.
Welcome to the year-end Christmas edition of Sea-gram, from  .

Wishing all Sea-gram readers a Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday Season. 
Our headline photo above appropriately features a pair of Christmas Tree Worms living on brain coral.  You can read more about these fascinating creatures in this month's 
Featured Creature section.

What do you do during your 3-minute safety stop?
Most of us just stare at our dive computer watching it count down the 3-minutes until we can safely surface. But if you keep alert to your surroundings you might get rewarded, as I was on my safety stop on Cozumel's Paso Del Cedral reef. Looking down, we watched as an eagle ray patrolled below, accompanied by a horse eye jack.
Eagle ray and horse eye jack patrol Paso Del Cedral
Eagle ray and horse eye jack patrol Paso Del Cedral

As we move into the winter months the eagle rays return to Cozumel. in our Story Behind the Photo
section, diver & underwater photographer Tracey Winholt tells us how she took a fantastic eagle ray shot.

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.
If you know someone who would enjoy reading Sea-gram, perhaps a dive buddy in need of an overdue "dive fix," please forward Sea-gram using the link at the end of the newsletter.
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I hope you enjoy Sea-gram !
Paul J. Mila
  Featured Creature . . .
            Christmas Tree Worms
                                                                       By Paul Mila
"Christmas tree worm" is the generic name for a marine worm that inhabits tropical reefs around the world. They derive their name from their obvious shape, which resembles a fir tree.
Their Christmas tree-like crowns are composed of radioles, whispy appendages which radiate from the worm's central spine. These appendages are used for respiration and to catch dinner, usually microscopic plants, or phytoplankton, floating in the water.

These worms are sedentary. Once they find a place they like, they remain. They anchor themselves by burrowing into live coral, usually living out their lives in that spot. In these photos the worms have selected brain coral and star coral. When startled, usually by the approach of a diver's camera or a hungry fish, the worms rapidly retract into their burrows, becoming invisible to the intruder or potential predator.  The seem to be sensitive to light and will retract when covered by an approaching shadow.

Christmas tree worms come in a variety of bright colors. They aren't very big, only about 1.5 inches in length. Because of their distinctive shape, beauty, and color, they  are easily spotted.

 Story Behind the Photo . . .
                   "My Accidental Photo"
                       By Tracy Winholt; Bourbonnais, Illinois
"Here is my accidental shot....  I was diving with my macro set up.....when this eagle ray came by....... I have NO idea how I got it all in the frame!!!  Because it was macro it had SOO much blue in it I had to change it to black & white."

"I was shooting macro with a 105mm lens at Palancar Reef in Cozumel.  It is eagle ray season there.   Every time I brought my wide angle set up, we saw NO eagle rays.  As I took a break from starring at sea grass, and looked out into the blue, I saw the ray.  
I was at 90 ft and diving 32% nitrox  so I only went down to 100 feet. The ray was directly below me at about 120!  I pulled out my strobes, cranked open my aperture and shot away!   
I had no idea what I captured until I got home.  It was a total accident with totally the wrong lens!   
This was not a night dive.  It was dusk...and the photo was almost completely blue, so I changed it to black and white."
Tracey's Equipment: 
Nikon D7000, 
Sea and Sea housing, 
Sea and Sea YSD2 strobes, 
Nikon 105 mm macro lens.

Tracey is also a professional photographer. 
Her website is 
You can also find Tracey on Facebook at Tracey Winholt
is your home for exciting dive adventure novels
and YouTube videos featuring various ocean creatures.
My latest venture is a children's book, Harry Hawksbill Helps His Friends, published by Best Publishing Company.
It's a fun story, and a great gift for those 4-8-year old pre-divers.
Click on the book cover for ordering information:
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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.

Featured Creature: 

                           Christmas Tree Worms

Story Behind The Photo:

                            "My Accidental Photo"

                  (Stories, lower left column)


Quick Links
Updates & Miscellaneous Features
They're Never Too Young
Most children are fascinated by sea creatures. 
And one of the best ways to nurture that interest is by reading to them.
Grand daughters Ava & Emma are enjoying my story of Harry Hawksbill Helps His Friends . . .

  . . . while grandson Max is fascinated by Lynn Markham's Fish Hotel, featuring great illustrations by Justin Sipiorski.

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Shark Conservation
The Pacific island nation of Kiribati announced the creation of the world's second largest shark sanctuary. It's just the latest in a wave of recent protective actions that have helped make 2016, in many ways, a very good year for the ocean's top predators. 
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 Sea Shepherd Update

Sea Shepherd Conservation Organization is protecting sea turtles, the rare vaquita porpoise, and a host of other endangered species.
Read about their efforts to end whale & dolphin captivity:

Check out their website for their other wide-ranging initiatives:

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 A Great Newsletter !
If you don't subscribe to 
Ben Davison's 
Undercurrent Magazine,  you should. 
It is Informative and always full of good tips on travel, dive equipment and more.
Check it out:
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Check out my Cozumel Mexico beachfront condo on VRBO:
Condo Details
Here is the view from the condo:
Morning at the Residencias Reef Beachfront Condo
Morning at the Residencias Reef Beachfront Condo

  Fulvio and Sandra manage my
  Little Slice of Paradise.

For other properties that Fulvio manages visit his web site:
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New York Diving 
Scuba Network of Long Island
Sales, Service, Basic and Advanced Dive Instruction
Local Diving & Exotic Dive Trips

For the best scuba experience in the New York area, contact

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For the best in Cozumel diving, 
check out dive operator Alison Dennis:
Looking for your own Slice of Paradise ?
Contact Nancy Edwards at Cozumel Living: 
Jaime Ramirez, at:
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