Category Archives: Jimmy Buffett

Delaney Talks to Statues

Delaney talks to statues as she dances ’round the pool
She chases cats through Roman ruins and stomps on big toadstools
She speaks a language all her own that I cannot discover
But she knows I love her so when I tuck her ‘neath the covers
Father, daughter, down by the water
Shells sink, dreams float, life’s good on our boat

Jimmy Buffett
Delaney Talks To Statues, album Fruitcakes (1994)

Life sure is short.

When you are young, I suppose it can feel like we will live forever and that we have a seemingly unlimited amount of time to lead an impactful life, but the sad truth is we don’t really have much time here on this green and blue ball after all. The sooner you start your life’s work, the sooner you start trying to make a positive difference, the better because there is a lot to be done and truly so little time.

I turned 24 last week and in just a couple of days my baby brother Owen will turn 22. Both of us are committed to living impactful lives, to trying to be agents of change, but I have to admit that at our age it’s at times easy to feel a sense of longevity. To think we have an unlimited amount of time. That is until reality raises its head, such as the case with this weekend’s news of the passing of one of my true heroes: singer, song writer, adventurer, and environmentalist extraordinaire, Jimmy Buffett.

If you grew up in South Florida in recent decades like I have you know Jimmy to be an iconic presence that helped portray, and in many ways created, an American Caribbean lifestyle countless of people adore. And nowhere around these parts is that truer than here in the lower Florida Keys where I’ve spent so much of my life. Jimmy’s influence is literally everywhere here and we are better because of it. His untimely passing this weekend has me thinking a lot about my own relationship with Jimmy beyond just the places all around me that drift in and out of his songs and stories and the great times they always evoke.

I grew up in a home where my mother and father simply adored Jimmy, met him many times and had countless “Jimmy Buffett stories” to happily share. His music was on the radio in our homes, ever present on the boat, and, yes, he was “with” us as we traveled to one western National Park after another all summer this year through his Radio Margaritaville on the car’s satellite radio.

It’s fair to say that Jimmy Buffett’s music is the soundtrack of their lives and, thus, it became a large part of my own. When I was just learning to speak I’d yell out what I thought was his name, “Barry Muffet!,” whenever I heard his music as I jumped up and down and ran around the house like a crazy person dancing and singing. And the bedtime lullabies my father would sing to me when he put me to bed, Delaney Talks to Statues and Little Miss Magic, were often laced with Jimmy Buffett and still ring deep in my memories.  Heck, for the longest time I even wondered if I’d been named after Jimmy’s own daughter, (Sarah) Delaney.

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As I grew older I had the distinct honor of meeting Jimmy and was struck by how down to earth, genuine and engaging he was to me, a total stranger. And I was also fortunate to see him in concert many times and ways including at stadium shows like the night he opened for his good friends The Eagles at Hard Rock stadium in front of what had to be 50,000 people, as well as an intimate gathering of a hundred or so folks at a museum fundraiser with Gloria Estefan of Miami Sound Machine fame (talk about South Florida music royalty!).

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I am especially thankful to have been there at his very last Key West show this past February. I’ve rarely seen my father and mother more excited to see any live show than they were in the days before that concert, yet a bit ominous as Dad wondered aloud if this might be the last time that we ever saw him in concert. Sadly, it was just that, but Jimmy was at the absolute height of his powers playing the guitar, singing, and sharing story after story about those songs and his life in Key West. It was an intimate outdoor show at the Coffee Butler Auditorium, a place where I’d acted as the emcee for a Hurricane Irma Relief Fundraiser a few years ago when it first opened, on what was a perfect late winter night’s party with a thankful, colorful crowd of fellow Parrot Heads knowing we were witnessing something special. It’s a night that I will never forget.


Even if you never saw him perform in person, there are countless places all over the Keys that he sings and writes about and in some way or another they have long been part of my life. Captain Tony’s. Caroline Street. AIA. The LaTeDa. Blue Heaven.


Heck, as soon as I clear the channel in my boat here on No Name Key I only need look to the east to see the Seven Mile Bridge, the place where Jimmy finished writing his legendary song Margaritaville while stuck there in traffic for two hours one day. And, yes, I think of Jimmy every single time I see a gentle manatee drift by in the waters off the shores of No Name Key. He is everywhere here in our lives in the Keys.

“It’s pretty simple, we live in paradise, and paradise is in peril. We need to have a little more attention about the place where we grew up, and where our children should grow up. It’s not that hard, it really isn’t.”

Jimmy Buffett
During a 2018 Concert in Support of Democrat Gwen Graham

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Jimmy is one of my heroes, not only because he was a world class entertainer and highly successful businessperson, but because of his deep love and support of the environment, especially our oceans. Long before I was born, he served as Chairman of the Save the Manatee Committee NGO at the request of former Florida Governor Bob Graham, worked to save the Key West Salt Ponds, and led many other environmental causes. His environmental work is, to me, what made him a truly special person and an inspiration.

Over the years he appeared in front of Congress to support renewing the Endangered Species Act, supported countless NGO’s such as Reef Relief and never ever seemed to shy away from helping others in need whether after Hurricane Irma here in the Keys, Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, or the entire Gulf Coast region following the horrific BP oil spill.

And, yep, there he was leading the way at his very last ever Florida show, in Hollywood, Florida this past February, when his final words that night were “stand with Parkland” as a message against the gun violence ravaging our country. Earlier that night he put it, as always, perfectly and simply  by saying “it’s not about politics, it’s about humanity.”  Jimmy Buffett put, as they say, his money where his mouth was and did so for more causes than can be counted and should always be remembered for his passion to help others and our environment.

I’d Rather Die While I’m Living.
Than Live While I’m Dead.

Jimmy Buffett
Growing Older But Not Up, album Coconut Telegraph (1981)














Jimmy Buffett was a living, breathing blueprint of how to live one’s life to the fullest and how to have a positive, multifaceted impact along the way. He was an American institution and inspiration.

While I hope he’s now off performing a perpetual “Labor Day Weekend Show” like he sung about so many years ago, I am trying to make sense of my grief over his passing by thinking about how his life illustrates what we can accomplish during our short time here on earth. It’s an ironic lesson coming from the guy who helped issue the “License to Chill” but his impact is indisputable, and I sure am grateful to have crossed his path and to have my heart filled with his music. More grateful than he could ever possibly know.

Bubbles Up,
They will point you to home,
No matter how deep or far we roam.

Jimmy Buffett
Bubbles Up, album Equal Strain on All Parts (upcoming 2023)

“Bubbles Up” Jimmy and tight lines. May you sail on with the wind at your back forever more. Bravo for a life well lived and loved.

The Summer of Sharks


The SRC team releasing a nurse shark (Ginglymostoma cirratum) back into the Atlantic Ocean

As I have written here before, I love sharks.

Every size and type of shark intrigues me and the more I encounter these amazing creatures, the more I want to learn. In fact, one of my goals this summer has been to spend at least 30 days aboard research vessels catching, tagging, collecting scientific data on and releasing sharks. I am happy to report that I expect to accomplish or exceed my goal and that my summer of sharks has been incredible.

Thankfully I live in a region of the world that allows me to study these amazing creatures and that’s particularly the case because of my college. I’m fortunate to attend one of the leading marine science schools in the world, the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, and am deeply honored to be part of the small team that makes up Dr. Neil Hammerschlag’s renowned Shark Research and Conversation (SRC) Lab.

From nurse sharks, like the one above, and great hammerheads to black tips and tiger sharks to just about everything in between that you can imagine, we see them all in our work with SRC. In my own work this summer, over the course of almost 30 days in the field on board research vessels, I have been fortunate to have helped catch, study and tag at least 10 different species of sharks through my internship with SRC and as a student of the Field School’s Elasmobranch Course.


Nurse shark (Ginglymostoma cirratum)


Nurse shark (Ginglymostoma cirratum)

My summer began with a week-long trip out of Key West where we traveled to the Dry Tortugas and lived aboard the Field School’s Research Vessel Garvin. I was honored to have been selected for the trip and work with the incredible people from the Field School, as well as members of the SRC team so as to study the Tortuga’s Gulf of Mexico shark population.

During our week offshore, not only were we able to dive some exquisite sunken wrecks covered in all sorts of colorful tropical fish species and sea turtles, but we also caught, tagged and collected biological samples on 27 different sharks (8 species total) before gently releasing them back into the wild. The SRC and Field School teams also spent another two weeks in the Dry Tortugas where they caught and released 51 more sharks for a total of 78 over the three weeks of research we performed there in May and June.


SRC quickly working up a great hammerhead (Sphyrna mokarran)

I then spent another week on the RV Garvin with the Field School staff as we sailed the waters off the coast of Miami out in the Atlantic Ocean. Each day we performed science on the sharks that we caught and released and learned about their role and importance within our natural environment as an apex species. During that week we caught and released some very cool species including bonnethead sharks, blacknose sharks and even a smalltooth sawfish that we quickly released back into the water before reporting our sighting to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as is required due to their highly endangered status. Protecting important species like the sawfish or the great hammerhead is critical to every element of our environment and the news out of Washington, which you can read here, that the Trump Administration wants to reduce those protections is deeply disappointing.


Drawing blood from a nurse shark (Ginglymostoma cirratum)


Processing a shark’s blood in the on-board lab to extract plasma

In the event that you are curious about such scientific work, what we do when catching and releasing sharks, I’ve included a few pictures within this blog from this summer. When ‘working up a shark’, as we call it, we carefully and gently secure most of the sharks onto a special platform off the back of the boat (the stern) and in the short time it’s there we quickly collect all sorts of data including measurements, fin clips, muscle biopsies, blood samples and then we tag each shark using either a NOAA tag, acoustic tag or satellite tag.

Some species, such as the majestic and protected Great Hammerhead, never leave the water (I’ve included some pictures of our work this summer on these incredible animals as well) and in every single case great care is taken to respect the animal in every way and to release them as quickly as possible back into their natural environment.  The process is orchestrated like a symphony, a shark science symphony I would could call it, as each member of the team has a specific role for that day’s trip, has gone through extensive training and is supervised at all times by highly knowledgeable leaders with years of hands on field experience.

Drawing blood from a blacktip shark (Carcharhinus limbatus)

I’ve also, of course, been aboard many trips throughout my first two semesters that SRC has conducted and it was on one of those trips that I have one of my fondest memories of my first year. It was the first time that I had ever been offshore with the team, meaning we were in 100 feet deeper water than usual and had to add extension lines to our gear. It was an amazing day where we caught two bull sharks, two great hammerheads, and one tiger shark. I should mention that it was actually my first time ever seeing a great hammerhead and a tiger shark in person. It was such an exciting (and exhausting day) that I fell asleep as I was telling my family about our adventures and good fortune!

As my Summer of Sharks continues, I want to remind everyone that Dr. Hammerschlag and the University of Miami’s Shark Research & Conservation Lab will be featured in three different Shark Week episodes this summer! Be sure to check out “Monster Tag” Monday July 23rd at 8:00pm, “Shark Tank Meets Shark Week”Wednesday July 25th at 9:00 pm, and “Tiger Shark Invasion” Thursday July 26th at 10:00 pm!

My friends at Field School will also be featured in “Alien Sharks: Greatest Hits” Sunday July 22nd at 7:00 pm and “SharkCam Stakeout” Wednesday July 25th at 10:00 pm.

You can catch these shows on The Discovery Channel so tune in or set your DVR to record all of the fun and excitement.


Releasing a nurse shark after a work up (Ginglymostoma cirratum)


Measuring a Great hammerhead shark (Sphyrna mokarran)

Thank you to everyone in SRC and at the Field School for making this summer so absolutely amazing and one full of sharks!

I want to especially send a shout out to Dr. Hammerschlag, Steve, Abby, Shannon, and Trish from SRC for supporting, teaching and encouraging me. I might be the youngest person in our Lab but no one is more honored to work with you and everyone at SRC. Thank you SRC.

I’d also like to very much thank Julia, Catherine, Christian, Jake, and Nick from Field School for embracing and inspiring me. My experiences offshore and on-board with you and the others on each of our trips this summer was life changing (so much so that I am now studying for my Captain’s license). Thank you Field School.


Releasing a nurse shark (Ginglymostoma cirratum) after a quick workup

If you love sharks, or are just curious to learn more about these wondrous creatures, I have GREAT news for you. You, too, can go shark tagging or attend other educational trips with us. To learn more about Shark Research and Conservation, please click here or to learn more about Field School, please click here. I hope you will consider joining us on what I promise will be a once in a lifetime experience that you will never forget.

Okay, enough about my summer “vacation,” my summer of sharks. I am off on another two trips with the SRC team this Saturday and Sunday and hope you will tune in and learn more about sharks on TV this week or join us out on the water soon. Fins up and enjoy the rest of your summer!