Day in the Life of a Dive Operator: Key Dives

Mike Goldberg, the owner of Key Dives, and Amanda Hudon, the Marine Conservation Coordinator for Key Dives, pose with the Goal: Clean Seas flag after another successful cleanup in the Florida Keys.

Written by: Amanda Hudon, Marine Conservation Coordinator for Key Dives 

What would you say makes up for the majority of the marine debris you remove? 

The majority of the debris we remove is recreational fishing and boating debris (anchors, traps, monofilament, rope, hooks, etc.)

How do you model your approach to marine debris removal? 

Safety for our divers and for the reef. We want to make sure our divers practice safe diving, and that when removing debris they are doing more good than harm. When dealing with monofilament for example, our divers are encouraged to unravel debris from the reef so as to not strangle the reef and our dive guides have cutting tools to use if needed.  

How has the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation and Goal: Clean Seas supported your removal efforts? 

We start all of our clean up dive briefings by talking about Goal: Clean Seas. After Hurricane Irma, when the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation and Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary started Goal: Clean Seas, they provided funding for shops to do marine debris clean ups. Key Dives chose to use this funding to take local divers out to help clean up the reefs. We felt that it was important to get the local community involved in cleaning up their backyard – and they’ve enjoyed doing it! This program ignited our clean up efforts and since then, we’ve made our clean up dives a regular part of our dive operation to allow both locals and visitors to participate. 

What goal(s) does Key Dives have for future marine debris removal efforts? 

Our goal is to keep our ocean free of debris by continuing our regular removal efforts and by participating in local clean ups. This year, we are participating in the upcoming ICARE Trash Derby in May of 2023, sponsored by the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. This will be an annual event that we plan to continue to be a part of in addition to our regular clean ups.   

What impact would you say Key Dives has had on the reefs of Islamorada and within the community? 

Key Dives and its customers have removed over 20,000 pounds of marine debris from the reefs in Islamorada! That is 20,000 less pounds of debris to potentially damage our reefs. The community has been an enormous part of being able to do this. Key Dives is a conservation-oriented shop, and in turn attracts like-minded divers who enjoy coming out to dive with us to remove debris. We provide those like-minded divers a way to make a difference and support them through funding when it is available to us. The result is cleaner reefs for all divers. 


The Key Dives cleanup crew (Captain Bradley William, instructor Nick Czarniawski, Marine Conservation Coordinator Amanda Hudon, Marilyn Steadman, John Jarnagin, Ken Carlson, and Mike Schuster) celebrate after a the recent debris removal milestone of 20,000 pounds removed.