Caitlyn “Caiti” Currie, who captains Key Largo water excursions for Pirates Cove Watersports and for school groups out of MarineLab at the Key Largo Undersea Park, is passionate about keeping the Florida Keys’ aquamarine waters clean.
Through Pirates Cove, located at Reefhouse Resort & Marina, Currie enjoys captaining boats for and participating in Dive Against Debris trips.
Like many Keys environmentalists, she holds two jobs to be able to do meaningful work that she loves. At MarineLab — a Marine Resources Development Foundation program on Largo Sound at the park housing Jules’ Undersea Lodge — Currie educates student groups of all ages about Keys ecosystems.
The landlocked native of St. Louis, Missouri, packed her bags for Key Largo about 10 years ago. Previously she had studied marine archaeology at Southeast Missouri State University and conducted educational field research at the Sanisera Archaeology Institute in Menorca, Spain.
“I was looking at places with shipwrecks and dive companies,” Currie said. “I like water, warmth and buried treasure.”
Currie immediately landed a boat mate’s position at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. A couple of years later, she began studying for her captain’s license and earned it at age 25.
Her seven-year stint at Pennekamp ended when the coronavirus pandemic struck, and Pirates Cove offered her a captain’s job.
During her limited spare time, Currie enjoys her two Labrador–Australian shepherd–mix dogs and performing with the Key Players theatrical troupe.
Keys Traveler: When did you first come to the Florida Keys and why?
Caitlyn “Caiti” Currie: In 2013. I realized after college that I hated the cold weather too much so I wanted to be somewhere it was warm all year round and where there were shipwrecks.
KT: What aspects of the Keys environment or way of life matter most to you?
CC: I really like how most everyone down here loves to do some activity on the water. Whether paddling, snorkeling or fishing, everyone likes to get out and enjoy our unique ecosystems. Not only do they enjoy it, they care about it! Our local community really gets involved in helping take care of our reefs, seagrass beds and mangroves.
KT: Who or what inspired you to become passionate about respecting and protecting the Keys’ natural world?
CC: Working on snorkel boats, glass-bottom boats and running eco-tours has allowed me to see firsthand how our ecosystems have been affected over the years. I can't imagine what they looked like 50 to 60 years ago!
KT: How does that passion influence your work or profession?
CC: I try to make sure the companies I work for care about our environment and conditions as much as I do, if not more so.
KT: What are some of the ways, personally or through your work, that you connect with and/or help protect the local environment and unique lifestyle?
CC: Damage to our different ecosystems has encouraged me to educate visitors on how to properly interact with the environment they are in, so that it can be enjoyed for years to come.
KT: What keeps you energized, challenged and focused on your path?
CC: My peers and co-workers constantly keep me energized about helping to educate others. Where I work mainly at Pirates Cove Watersports we do multiple Dive Against Debris trips throughout the year to help clean up the oceans. At MarineLab we take school groups out to experience the different ecosystems and learn about them in depth.
KT: What do you hope your positive environmental actions will accomplish?
CC: The more we educate our visitors, the better our reefs can be in the future as more people realize the impact they can have on our beautiful and unique reefs — just with their everyday habits.
KT: What message do you want your actions and example to communicate to people you encounter?
CC: To encourage others to be appreciative of our environment down here and help us to preserve it.
KT: What’s your favorite natural or eco-friendly activity in the Keys?
CC: I'm not sure if I could pick a favorite activity! It’s a tie between diving and snorkeling.