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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Starr

How I became a Mermaid

Updated: Apr 8, 2022

How does one become a mermaid? Ok, I’m not actually a mermaid, technically I’m an eco-tour guide, but what exactly is that? It's a nature obsessed adrenaline junkie with a love for telling stories, and a passion for fun. Ecotourism is the section of tourism that is focused on traveling in ways that have little negative affect on the local ecology while supporting the local community. Travelers are educated on the environment, history and culture of the community and importance of conservation. This niche requires us to have extensive knowledge in these subjects, as well as the ability to thrive in some intense outdoor conditions, all while keeping guest entertained and safe. Therefore, many of us have some sort of environmental science degree, a lifetime of outdoor adventure experience and master naturalist certifications.

Michelle Starr Florida Master Naturalist Glass Bottom Rentals Kayak SUP Tour Guide

How I ended up spending my days adventuring and sharing my knowledge and passion for the natural world truly began from my birth. I was an only child, raised on a dirt road in an old yellow farmhouse in Mi. that was on a private lake. I had a thirst for adventure and adrenaline, so I spent a lot of time alone outdoors getting dirty, breaking bones, and observing the natural world. I was also the kid who had “talks too much” on their report card, and was the class clown, so getting the attention of an audience was my thing from an early age. I thought I was going to live on the beaches of San Diego or Costa Rica spending my days surfing, and being a Jane Goodall of sorts, but instead we are going to fast forward 30 or so years. I moved to Florida from San Deigo, enrolled in a university to work on my Bachelor of Science in Alternative Medicine, and that is when it all truly clicked. Humans have lost touch with the natural world, the things we are doing that collapse ecosystems are the very same things that are causing the rise in chronic disease. The fire was lit, so using my “big mouth” and the ability to capture people’s attention I took to social media with a mission to get people to see what I now understood. This was also the time when I really began to look at my own daily habits and see what I needed to change.

In 2018 red tide hit, and it was the worst ecological collapse I have ever witnessed. Millions of dead fish along our shorelines, hundreds of dead dolphins, turtles, manatee and birds. Not only was there an environmental collapse, our communities and economy were going down with it. I then became very active in the community; I was gonna save the world because sitting and doing nothing was not something I could do. This is where the mermaid nickname started, and the opportunity to get paid to adventure and educate the public in natural history began. One of the coolest adventure women, master naturalist, tour guide I was doing work in the community with was moving to Alaska and thought I would be a good replacement for her. And that was it, I knew my whole life was leading up to me being an eco-tour guide. Now Here I am at 46 yrs old spending my days playing outside and sharing my passion for the natural world with people from all over the world. Now that is just the love story of eco-tourism, it’s not all mermaids and calm seas. Tune in next week for more Mermaid Tails….

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