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Brad Bertelli: Florida Keys Historian, Author, Speaker, Honorary Conch

Studying, learning, and writing about the Florida Keys since 2001. History columnist at The Keys Weekly, expert on Indian Key and the legendary pirate Black Caesar, former curator at Islamorada’s Keys History & Discovery Center.


Brad Bertelli is an American historian and author best known for his work in The Florida Keys. Born in Southern California, Bertelli came to the Florida Keys in 2001 to live on an island and finish writing his novel Wrestling Alligators. He published eight books about Florida, including titles on snorkeling, the Netflix thriller Bloodline, and the history of the Florida Keys. For over a decade, his popular history column has been featured in local newspapers. Brad married the beautiful and talented Michelle Bertelli in 2009. They live on Plantation Key with two dogs and a cat with no tail.


Brad is a well-known historian with over two decades of researching the history of Monroe County and the Florida Keys. He was instrumental in executing the original vision of Islamorada’s Keys History & Discovery Center as the museum’s first curator. He served on the board of the Historical Preservation Society of the Florida Keys and sits on Monroe County’s Historic Preservation Commission. Brad shares daily history with the 10,000+ members of his popular Facebook group: Florida Keys History with Brad Bertelli.

Read “Brad Bertelli: Steward of Florida Keys History” interview here.


Brad came to the Florida Keys to finish his novel. In 2007, Wrestling Alligators won the Key West Writers Guild Award for a novel-in-progress. The book remains unfinished. While researching his first book, Snorkeling Florida, every dive captain, mate, and local shared their own interesting stories about the local reefs, wrecks, and island histories. While digging up the real stories, Brad became hooked and has been writing about Florida Keys history ever since. Check out all of his books and get a sneak peek at what’s next here.


Brad Bertelli is the go-to guy when people want an enthusiastic speaker to share stories of Florida Keys history. He regularly hosts talks from Key West to South Florida for museums, resorts, universities, and corporate groups. If you are looking for an engaging speaker, Brad is your man. Contact (305) 395-9889 or

Honorary Conch

Brad became an Honorary Conch in 2021. The title was bestowed on him by the Monroe County Commissioners in recognition of his work sharing Florida Keys history. Would you like to support Brad’s continued research? Donate here.

Talking History on Screen

The Keys To Paradise, cast member, feature-length Islamorada documentary (2022); Rob Riggle: Global Investigator (Season 1, Episode 3, Pirate Booty, 2020), Silver Kings (Season 4, Episode 10, 2018), Pescando en los Cayos y el Mundo (Indian Key Pirate for Hire), Saltwater Experience (Tips From a Pro, 1935 Labor Day Hurricane), The Fish Guyz, Art Loft (346, Roadside Attractions)

Talking History and Skunk Apes on Podcasts

The Florida Spectacular, Cathy Salustri, host, Episodes 2, 38, and 53; Wait Five Minutes, Nicholas D’Alessandro, host, The Other Skunk Apes; The Cryptid Report, Jim Harold, host.