Debbie Harrison

Location of Interview
Collection Name

Changes in the Florida Keys Marine Ecosystem Based Upon Interviews with Experienced Residents


"Changes in the Florida Keys Marine Ecosystem Based Upon Interviews with Experienced Residents" is a  collection by Karen DeMaria of Summerland Key, FL completed in April 1996. Funded by the Nature Conservancy and the Center for Marine Conservation, the project sought to describe through oral history interviews, environmental changes in the Florida Keys marine ecosystem. 


National Capital Contracting

Biographical Sketch

Debbie Harrison is a long-time resident of the Lower Keys in Florida, having lived there for fifteen years, with a brief hiatus when she returned to Michigan to care for her mother. She is a certified diver since 1983 and has spent a significant amount of time exploring the back country and diving on the reef. Harrison has held a variety of jobs, including grafting, hotel/motel work, and working on a lobster boat, which she considered more fun than work. She has also worked as a planner for the Florida Keys Land & Sea Trust and another unidentified organization. Currently, she serves as the Florida Keys associate for the Wilderness Society, a role she has held for four years, where she works as a planner and environmental lobbyist. Harrison is a graduate of both high school and college, and she has also completed one year of graduate school.

Scope and Content Note
The interview with Debbie Harrison provides a detailed account of her experiences and observations of the changing environment in the Florida Keys over the years. She vividly describes the aesthetic beauty of the back country fifteen years ago, contrasting it with the current state, which she describes as destroyed due to murky waters, prop scars, and increased boat traffic. Harrison also shares her experiences of diving and snorkeling at various locations, including Pelican Shoal and Sand Key Light, noting the significant degradation of these areas over time. The interview also touches on her various jobs, including her current role as an environmental lobbyist for the Wilderness Society. Additionally, Harrison recounts a harrowing experience of being stranded on a sandbar, highlighting the dangers and challenges of navigating the Keys' waters. The interview provides valuable insights into the environmental changes in the Florida Keys from a resident's perspective.

Please Note: The oral histories in this collection are protected by copyright and have been created for educational, research and personal use as described by the Fair Use Doctrine in the U.S. Copyright law. Please reach out to let us know how these interviews are being used in your research, project, exhibit, etc.  The Voices staff can help provide other useful resources related to your inquiry. 

The NOAA mission is to understand and predict changes in climate, weather, oceans, and coasts, to share that knowledge and information with others, and to conserve and manage coastal and marine ecosystems and resources. The Voices Oral History Archives offers public access to a wide range of accounts, including historical materials that are products of their particular times, and may contain offensive language or negative stereotypes.

Voices Oral History Archives does not verify the accuracy of materials submitted to us. The opinions expressed in the interviews are those of the interviewee only. The interviews here have been made available to the public only after the interviewer has confirmed that they have obtained consent.