Since its founding in October of 1978, Captain Slate’s Scuba Adventures has been a beacon for scuba exploration and adventure in the Florida Keys. Located in Tavernier, the long-standing business strives to share the area’s colorful, pristine environment while respecting the waters and their inhabitants.
By John Tapley
The company was founded, and is operated, by its namesake, Captain Spencer Slate, who has been instrumental in promoting and facilitating scuba diving in the Keys. Captain Slate was a chairman for the YMCA Scuba Program for 17 years and started the Keys Association of Dive Operators (KADO) and the Florida Association of Dive Operators (FADO), which have enhanced local diving opportunities through environmentally-friendly practices such as reef sinking and coral spawning.
Captain Slate shares his origins in diving and where they lead to his business:
“I was a diver at 15 years old in 1963 in North Carolina – Winston-Salem. I was a member of the Boy Scouts, and was always into the water, and when scuba started being mainstream in the early ‘60s, I learned to dive: I didn’t take a course but learned from friends of mine. I started diving even more when I got into college, and when I moved to Florida in ‘72, I got certified and worked my way up to instructor trainer for the next six years, then became a boat captain and opened my store.”
Today, Captain Slate’s Scuba Adventures provides open water certifications under PADI, NAUI, SDI, and SEI. Three vessels embark on chartered trips to destinations such the Keys’s coveted reefs and wrecks, and out in the Caribbean. Divers, snorkelers, and nature watchers often join relaxing forays into nearby Tavernier Creek where The Captain conducts mangrove eco-tours.
Captain Slate’s Scuba Adventures also provides a Creature Feature experience where snorkelers and divers interact with local creatures within the shallows. These unique encounters are captured by Emmy Award winning videographer Frazier Nivens, which can then be purchased. The Captain is enamored by his scaly, colorful neighbors, and during these sessions, he emphasizes stewardship and respect.
“I’ll play with giant moray eels – big greens up to half a dozen – and let them swim through our arms,” he says. “I want everybody, and especially first-time divers, to be taught to respect and be cautious with them. Here’s an animal they should respect and see it has no intention to bite anyone. If they’re out fishing on someone’s boat, let that eel go and don’t kill it. That’s what we’re after – I show divers our friendly nurse sharks as well.”
For 40 years, Captain Spencer Slate has opened the dual excitement and fragility of the Florida Keys to innumerate scuba adventurers. Through running a successful business and establishing strong bonds between divers in the Sunshine State, he has solidified the Keys’ reputation as a scuba diving mecca.
For more information on Captain Slate’s scuba adventures, visit www.captainslate.com.