Meet the Team

key west aquarium fish tank  
Photo of Genya
Genya Yerkes

Title: Aquarium Curator
About: I was born and raised in Eustis, FL, originally. I moved to Key West in June 2000. I have left and returned to KWAQ multiple times after pursuing other opportunities. Key West always calls me back home. I have worked in the zoological industry since June 2000 in multiple roles including educator, safari educator, aquarist, reptile keeper, and dolphin trainer. Along with the Key West Aquarium, I’ve worked for Discovery Cove, SeaWorld Orlando, Busch Gardens Tampa, Walt Disney World Parks and Resorts, and the Orlando Science Center. My favorite marine animals are cuttlefish. I was lucky enough to aquaculture a common species, S. bandensis, and it has been a highlight of my career.

Photo of Kristina
Kristina Pendleton

Title: Education Supervisor
About: I am originally from Waterfort, CT and I moved to the Florida Keys in 2010. I have resided in Key West since January 2017.

I earned my degree in Marine Biology from the University of New Hampshire; I’ve been in the marine science field and working as an outdoor educator for 10 years.

My favorite marine animal is the octopus because it’s incredibly smart, beautiful, and complex.

Photo of Carolyn
Carolyn Malin

Title: Educator
About: I am originally from central Pennsylvania but resided in Virginia for 40 years. I moved to Key West in August 2016 after my husband passed.

I am crazy about reptiles and amphibians, snorkeling, swamps, and wildflowers. My late husband would say he married me because I knew more about snails than he did!

I don’t have a favorite marine animal but the octopus fascinates me because of its amazing abilities!

Photo of Rae
Rae Corley

Title: Educator
About: I am originally from Colorado and I moved to Key West in December 2015 to attend our local college.

I play musical instruments and love to draw, paint, and crafts. I graduated from Florida Keys Community College in 2017 with my A.S. in Marine Environmental Technology and I’m a certified AAVS diver.

My favorite marine animal is the octopus because facets of their intelligence rivals dolphins and humans! What’s not to love?

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Priscilla Gartenmayer

Title: Educator
About: I was born and raised in Key West. People born on the island are known as “Conchs”!

If there was one thing I would want everyone to know about me it would be how much I love the ocean.

My favorite animal is the conch because it is our high school mascot at Key West High. Go Conchs!

Photo of Brianna Archibald
Brianna Archibald

Title: Educator
About: I am originally from Burlington, Iowa and moved to Key West early September 2017, right before Hurricane Irma hit! This is my first professional position in the zoological industry and relocated to the island to attend the local college and try to get my foot in the door.

My goal is to be a marine mammal trainer in the future and I hope to travel the world to experience the varied coral reefs and cultures around the globe, especially the Great Barrier Reef!

Photo of Matt
Matt Rowe

Title: Aquarist
About: I’m originally from Oneonta, NY and I moved to Key West in 2017 to pursue my degree at Florida Keys Community College and to work in coral conservation.

I through-hiked the entire Appalachian Trail (2200 mi) in 2016.

My favorite marine animals are tunicates; they’re the closest invertebrate to vertebrates in the evolutionary tree of life.

Photo of Amanda Daleo
Amanda Daleo

Title: Aquarist
About: I’m originally from Deltona, FL and I have worked at Sea World, Orlando and the Central Florida Zoo. My favorite animal is the sea lion!

I worked previously with a geriatric sea lion, who was fully blind, at one of my internships. She was very smart and taught me so much about training because we had to use verbal and tactile (touch) training cues. She would test you to see if you would take it easy on her and let her cheat!

Photo of Steve Baareman
Steve Baareman

Title: Aquarist
About: I was born and raised in Michigan where my love for nature began, exploring the lakes and forests with family. Those experiences fueled my passion, as a Keeper, and found myself working all over Mexico, British Virgin Islands, Wind Ward Islands, and several other areas around the Country and Globe.

I have been living in Florida since 2014 and recently made the move to Key West from Orlando, no more snow! A few of my favorite animals I have had the joy of working with include Penguins, Zebra Shark (named Stud Muffin), and Octopuses (GPO).

Photo of Steven Mata
Steven Mata

Title: Engineering Supervisor
About: I was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. I played soccer my whole life and that is where I learned to enjoy being outside. I joined the U.S. Army in 2000, stationed in Germany, Louisiana, Texas, and Georgia with three deployments to Iraq and one to Bosnia.

I retired from the military in 2009, but in that decade of service I developed a deep and personal connection with Mother Nature. I love to hunt and fish, but I also focus on conservation so future generations can continue to hunt and fish and develop the same passion for it that I have.

I have been working in the maintenance field for 5 years and have found a true calling here at the aquarium, on the plus side I have the chance to interact with some amazing animals, the Cubera Snapper being my favorite.

Photo of Pablo
Pablo Montesino

Title: Assistant Engineer
About: I am originally from Havana, Cuba and I moved to Key West in 1995.

I have a crazy sense of humor, I like to make my teammates laugh.

My favorite marine animals are sea turtles, because they are awesome like me!

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