Discover Wonder: Dive shop co-owner Jesus Gudino

Discover Wonder is a series of personal accounts of people finding connection in our national marine sanctuaries and monuments.

By Jesus Gudino, co-owner of the Dive Shop at Ocean Reef Club

“So I would sit there at the beach, and watch him enter the water for his night ocean swim. I would stare at his white hair until it would blend with the white water of the waves. And wait… Forty to fifty minutes later, a silhouette would appear along the beach walking toward me.  We would hold hands and go on our way.”

As a kid in Mexico City, these narratives of my grandmother of her much anticipated annual trip to the beach with my grandfather are what first drew me to the ocean. It took decades for me to fully immerse myself in this element that has been the focus of my attention for so long. I moved to the beach from Mexico City and enjoyed all it has to give. But I finally discovered wonder when I went under.

I took my first breath underwater in the lakes of Minnesota 24 years ago. And now, just short of two decades in the Florida Keys, sharing this national marine sanctuary I call home with thousands of people, I still feel the most present when I’m down below, all my senses are in awe and I’m grateful.

Living in the Florida Keys, everything is related to our environment – from diving, fishing, and boating to the things our next generations are learning at our local schools.  The community as a whole has the same common goal and it is to protect our ocean, our sanctuary, our heritage. I have been proud to be involved with the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation and other nonprofits organizations through the years, most recently as part of Goal: Clean Seas Florida Keys. This work to protect our sanctuary sustains us and our way of life, and for that I am thankful.