Mimi Stafford was born in Hamilton, Ohio but moved to Central Florida as a young child. Close proximity to lakes and the oceans all around Florida sparked an appreciation and curiosity about the world beneath. This lead to formal study of marine biology and microbiology first at the College of Charleston, Charleston, SC and then at the University College of Swansea, in Wales, where she met her husband, Simon, who was studying oceanography.
After graduation, the couple came to Florida to see family and then to Key West in early 1974 so that Mimi could share one of her favorite places from her childhood with her new husband. This was the beginning of a planned around the world trip, but once Simon got under water, they knew they would never leave. For many years, they made their living diving for lobsters and specimens. Early on they realized they are both captains at heart, which lead to the purchase of a second boat and Mimi took up sponge fishing and eventually decided to go to a larger boat and run traps for stone crabs and lobster.
Mimi and Simon have two children born and raised in the Keys. Their daughter, Tess, currently lives in Sydney, Australia, where she and her husband teach environmental economics at the University of New South Wales. Their son, Dylan, fell in love with the sea at an early age and has been working on the family boats all his life.
Today, Mimi keeps busy fishing, doing massage therapy, and participating in various advisory boards. She is a current member of the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council lobster advisory board, Monroe County Port Advisory Board, Restoration Advisory Board with NAS Boca Chica, and a Reef Relief board member. Mimi has been diving in the Keys since the early 1960’s and has seen many changes and a general degradation of the ecosystem. She strongly believes that education, working with lawmakers to reduce source pollution and restoration of habitats is vital to the recovery of the Keys natural ecosystems and plans to continue her work in these areas.