The NATURAL GUARDIAN
BY DONNA CRARY
Jim Moir sits at home as he gazes over aquamarine waters of The Crossroads, where the St. Lucie and Indian rivers meet, and says, “I’m the luckiest man that I know.”
He feels fortunate because he has spent a lifetime doing what he loves in the great outdoors. And it’s that very passion for nature that has led him to be actively engaged in protecting it.
“I’m a nature boy, intuitively,” he says. “Protecting the environment is the foundational keystone of my life. Being a husband and a father is very important to that. I see that I need to leave the world a better place than where I came into it. I’m dedicated to that.”
Born in Miami, Moir grew up living on Biscayne Bay. His parents were science teachers, former President Nixon was a neighbor and in the 1960s, the TV show Flipper was filmed close by.
Early on, Moir proved to be a natural in the water. He became a certified diver at the age of 10 and grew up sailing and racing boats. At 16, he took a trans-Atlantic trip from Boston to Ireland with his uncle on a 38-foot sailboat that almost sank.
The dangerous adventure did not deter him from his love for the sea. He continued sailing around the North Atlantic and to destinations such as Maine, Bermuda, Europe and throughout the Caribbean.
Moir graduated from the University of Miami with a bachelor’s degree in anthropology, majoring in marine archaeology. He married Kimberly Marley in 1992. Around the same time, the couple searched for a new place to live and found their piece of paradise in Stuart.
“Watching Miami develop was painful and sad because the things that I loved best about Miami were missing,” he says. “And so, I knew a little about Salerno, having been through it by boat a couple of times. Stuart had this ambience and openness that was rare.”
For many years, Moir has enjoyed exploring the oceans by facilitating science projects that specialize in marine animals and bioacoustics. Some of his projects have included tagging North Atlantic right whales off the Canadian coast. The taggings were conducted by Ocean Works Group to study the behavior of whales and their interactions with the environment.
He also volunteered at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute Foundation, working on its Health and Environmental Risk Assessment project. The project studied Atlantic bottlenose dolphins in the Indian River Lagoon and used them as an indicator species for measuring the lagoon’s health.
Moir’s work with wild dolphins inspired him to train at the Center for Coastal Studies on Cape Cod, where he became certified to disentangle whales.
“There’s nothing more thrilling as well as dangerous than being connected to an animal that weighs 50 tons that’s pulling you in the water,” he says.
Moir explains that disentangling a whale from fishing gear is a slow and intricate process that is monitored by a team of expert veterinarians.
“It can be complexly entangled and it’s important to know what you’re cutting, when you’re cutting the line,” he says. “For instance, if the animal has a wrap around its flipper, that line can be acting as a tourniquet and stop the blood flow from getting to that flipper. If you cut the line, the blood vessels that are being strangled can suddenly be opened, and the animal can bleed to death.”
Since moving to Martin County, Moir has been continuously involved in protecting the local environment and maintaining the area’s small-town charm. He was part of an effort to help designate Twin Rivers Park in Rocky Point as a tortoise preserve. He volunteers with Friends of the Spoil Islands helping to remove exotic invasives, build the shoreline, assist with mangrove plantings and restore oyster reefs.
Additionally, Moir has been a member of Martin County’s Local Planning Agency for 20 years where he advocates for slow growth and low-impact development.
He also serves as a board member for the Marine Resources Council, Rivers Coalition, and Indian Riverkeeper, where he tirelessly fights to protect and restore the area’s most precious resource — the Indian River Lagoon.
Moir says volunteering has its own rewards because it allows him to work with wise people who truly care about the environment and who want to make a positive change.
“I think that volunteering to make the world a better place is not only a high goal, but it’s the only way,” he says. “As humans, we’ve based our system on this concept that we’re going to dominate the planet and make it respond to us rather than being a part of. That connection to being a part of is enlivening, spiritual and makes me feel better.”
Occupation: Professional volunteer
Family: Wife, Kimberly Marley Moir; son, Colton
Education: Bachelor’s degree in anthropology, majoring in marine archaeology from the University of Miami
Hobbies: “Pretty much anything to do with water. I’ve taken to paddle boarding. I’m going to paddle board from Bimini to West Palm Beach this summer. I love sailing. I take as many adventurous trips that my wife will allow me. Recently I brought a boat from Annapolis to Fort Pierce. Two years ago, I brought a boat from Maui to Mexico. I’ve done five trans-Atlantic trips.”
What inspires you: “Good deeds inspire me. The example set by my peers as well as my parents and family members that have done good things in their life.”
Something most people don’t know about you: “Most people don’t realize how much I’m trying to catch up, and so my life is about doing and being there, and trying to catch up.”