FISHER-ABT << MEL & ME
and Deo Fisher’s youngest child and only daughter,
Taffi, has been diving for as long as she can remember.
But it was not until 1985 that she became officially
certified as a scuba diver.
we found the motherlode everyone wanted to dive,” she
said. “So we had to make the rule that everyone needed
to be certified – including me.”
Taffi’s first dive instructor was, of course, her
father. The mother of four remembers getting ready to
make a dive with Mel while wearing a silver bikini.
said I shouldn’t wear the silver bikini,” she said.
hesitation was not because he thought Taffi would be
mistaken for treasure, but that the glint of light from
her bathing suit would attract barracuda.
watchful fish never bothered her, but Taffi remembers
several run-ins with the jagged-toothed barracuda. She
also fondly remembers an encounter with a mermaid aboard
one of her father’s treasure boats.
were filming a commercial trying to raise money and had
a bunch of models in bikinis on the boat,” she said.
“One was dressed as a mermaid with a full tail and
spectacle was a memorable one for the fourth grade girl,
but “my mom probably didn’t like it,” Taffi said
laughing at the memory of her father surrounded by
memories of life as a treasure hunter are mixed with
those of being a regular adolescent growing up in Key
family lived on a houseboat at Houseboat Row for about
eight years, while the treasure-hunting offices were on
a galleon behind what is now Half Shell Raw Bar.
adventures awaited the girls aboard the galleon, where
tours were given and treasure was displayed and
remembers the part of the galleon that had been the
crew’s quarters. Hammocks were strung in the crew’s
quarters while mannequins representing a slumbering crew
rested in the hammocks.
and I would dress up like the mannequins, get into the
hammocks and scare the people on the tour,” she said
ticking off the other adventures that an afternoon on
the galleon afforded.
girls would also try to climb the mast to the crow’s
nest despite rotting lines, and amuse themselves on the
learned to give tours and sell coins at a very early
age,” she said. She also learned to paint at a young
I was really bored on the galleon, Dad would go buy 10
galleons of paint and say, ‘Paint the galleon,’”
she said, remembering that the colors Mel bought were
not always ones that would be found on an authentic
Spanish galleon. “He would say, ‘It doesn’t
matter, these were on sale,’” Taffi said.
also remembers going to school in Vero Beach and Key
West, where “I was definitely the only one who got to
come to “Show and Tell” with a gold bar,” she
said. Although not all of her classmates were always
impressed. They had overheard their parents call Mel
Fisher a con man or an unrealistic dreamer.
every person Dad ever spoke to, he tried to get them to
invest,” Taffi said. “But it was usually easy to
impress people with gold bars.”
is still impressing people with gold, while living in
Sebastian, Fla. She is the mother of four children, ages
3, 6, 16 and 18.
Fisher is the area operations director for the Mel
Fisher Center, which is a branch of the operation
headquartered in Key West. She oversees the operations
of a gift shop, museum and conservation lab. Taffi also
is a member of ProSea, a shipwreck exploration group and
acts as a liaison between the state and shipwreck
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