By Jim McCarthy and Tiffany Duong
Avid diver and native tattoo artist Cassandra Clark needed to develop into part of the coral restoration effort having seen a gradual decline of the reef. Receiving her diver grasp certification from Key Dives two years in the past, she’s now teaming up with the native dive store and one other Marathon tattoo store to learn native reef restoration.
Clark, who works at South of Heaven in Key Largo, and Doc’s Tattooz have drawn up numerous designs individuals can select from to get inked and profit I.CARE, the local nonprofit formed by Key Dives owner Mike Goldberg and Kylie Smith to revive native Islamorada reefs. For each tattoo from these “flash sheet” tattoos executed in December, 50% will go to the trigger, Clark mentioned.
“Since I’m a tattoo artist, I’ve the flexibility to do fundraisers the place I may also help native organizations and assist elevate giant quantities of funds,” mentioned Clark, who’s been diving since 2015. “I actually needed to assist our reefs as a result of our native economic system wants wholesome corals.”
Positioned at 10939 Abroad Freeway in Marathon, Doc’s Tattooz proprietor Allen Mertsock signed his store up for the fundraising effort when he heard about it from Clark, who’s a buddy.
“Cassandra needed to do one thing to learn the reefs, and naturally we needed to be on board,” Mertsock mentioned. “We’re all on this collectively. It’s actually, actually vital to guard the reef.”
Doc’s, which has been in enterprise for over 20 years, isn’t any stranger to learn tattooing. Throughout Hurricane Irma, Mertsock raised virtually $800 for the American Legion to assist these in want. Now, he, Tony Napoli (the opposite artist at Doc’s), and Clark are teaming as much as assist restore the reef.
Flash tattoos are especially-created for mass-tattoo occasions such because the I.CARE profit and are normally designs which have by no means been executed earlier than, Mertsock mentioned. Doc’s has a whole lot of designs out there for the flash profit, not all of that are coral or ocean associated. Notable drawings he’s created for I.CARE embody a cool Tiki god, a geisha and a tropical hibiscus in a vase.
Clark mentioned her designs emphasize the native reef and creatures that folks don’t essentially take note of. Whereas many individuals see and know turtles, Clark mentioned there are additionally balloon fish and puffer fish that are actually turning into uncommon to search out whereas diving.
“One other uncommon species is the flamingo tongue, which is that this little sea snail factor. They carry me a lot pleasure once I’m diving, and nobody actually is aware of about them,” she mentioned.
Together with spreading consciousness of what are actually uncommon sea creatures, Clark mentioned, she needs to coach individuals who are available in her chair on how you can become involved. She’s an lively member of Key Dives’ cleanup dives, having taken anchors and fishing line off corals.
“We’re destroying this, and there’s so many individuals in our native space who don’t care. I needed to point out I.CARE,” she mentioned.
Clark tattooed an anatomically appropriate stoplight parrotfish on Smith, I.CARE’s co-founder and lead scientist, in October, and a number of other within the I.CARE and Key Dives communities are pushing Goldberg to get his first tattoo, of I.CARE naturally, as soon as the group is totally working.
“Cassandra is an incredible human being – such a robust advocate for conservation and a really proficient artist,” Smith mentioned. “We’re so fortunate to have her working as arduous as she does to unfold the message about I.CARE and assist us elevate cash.”
Smith and Goldberg are “continuously amazed” by the creative ways that local businesses are supporting I.CARE.
“We wouldn’t exist with out their help and this tells us that everyone down here cares about the future of our coral reefs,” Smith added. “This really is a group effort and it offers us a lot hope for the way forward for our coral reefs!”
These wishing to get a tattoo from Clark can name forward and say they need an I.CARE tattoo. Or, individuals can stroll in and choose a design they’d like. Clark mentioned she’s prepared to do one thing that’s not been pre-drawn that’s coral- or ocean-related.
Doc’s posts its new designs on its social media pages each day. Decide one you want or ask for one thing totally different. For an I.CARE tattoo at Doc’s, e mail [email protected] or direct message the store on their social media pages.