Gulf of Mexico
JIM McCARTHY/Keys Weekly


In recognition of World Oceans Day, the Keys Weekly spoke to three “ocean protectors” to hear firsthand how the blue waters have impacted their lives and shaped their careers.

Growing up in Illinois, I always had bigger plans and a salty dream that seemed completely far-fetched. I knew from a young age that I wanted to study marine biology and live near the ocean and my parents were convinced it was just a phase that I would grow out of.

I have lived in Florida for 7 years now and the ocean is a part of me. The sea brings a sense of peace and tranquility that is second to none. Through life’s struggles, obstacles, grief and hard times, I find myself turning to the sea. You never truly understand grief and the toll it takes on your body, mind and soul until it knocks on your door.  

Getting in the water at the reef is like diving into another world. There is something incredible and so special about being underwater in the silence.  Hearing nothing but parrotfish crunching on the coral and your own breath.

Since losing my boyfriend Jeff a year and a half ago, I also completely lost myself. I didn’t know what life was without my other half, or how to move forward. We always shared a love for the sea together, and I knew I had to focus on that — find that passion for adventure again and make him proud.  

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