Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium

Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium

Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium

“The sea should be enjoyed, the animals in it. When you see a shark underwater, you should say, ‘How lucky I am to see this beautiful animal in his environment!’”

— Dr. Eugenie Clark, Founding Director of Mote Laboratory

Mote is my favorite.  There I said it; I am biased and now let me tell you why.

It was the summer before 8th grade and my family had recently moved down to Venice, FL (within the past 2 years) and had learned that Mote, not too far from them, had summer camps and one was an overnight camp located at their research base in the Florida Keys.  It was one of the best experiences of my life to this day and one that I still cherish. We visited a sea turtle hospital, snorkeled almost every day, participated in a beach clean up, was led through nightly lessons- I still know how to dissect a squid- and much more.

It’s this experience that has continued to fuel my passion for marine science and conservation and I’m going to make an assumption and say they probably are for many people- adults and children alike. Not only does Mote still have camps in the Florida Keys, but they have local day camps for younger children, as well as college and adult programs

One of the biggest threats facing the Gulf of Mexico’s marine environment is red tide and Mote has recently launched the Red Tide Institute to better understand the causes and ways to mitigate red tide.

2018 was one of the worst red tides and left a devastating effect on the Gulf's marine life. One of the many factors behind red tide is the rise in water temperature.  I'll defer to the experts and ask that you read more about red tide here.

Mote has been a leader in the Sarasota area in educating people about red tide, possible health effects, strandings due to red tide, and beach conditions. Mote’s dedication not only to research, but education is the biggest reason I continue to support them and follow everything they do. 

“Hey you! Yeah you! See the photo on the right? Did you know those aren’t jelly fish?...I thought they were.”

— The World’s Sea Turtles

Plastic or Jelly

What I found to be the most profound exhibit in Mote’s Aquarium, was located inside when you first walk in.  A room filled with brightly lit tanks filled with all sorts of fish, seahorses, sea urchins, eels and towards the end…Jelly fish.  The above image is one of those exhibits boarding a tank filled with jellyfish- a sea turtle’s favorite snack. The plaque situated above the plastic bags asks a simple question, “Are these plastic bags or jelly fish?” Each exhibit at Mote is built around the theme of education and staff are there to answer any questions.  Mote’s current aquarium location is more of a campus as they have builds spread along their property on Longboat Key. When you pull into the parking lot, you don’t feel you are at an aquarium per say, but more at a research base. This is all going to change in the coming years as Mote is in the process of developing a new modernized aquarium away from Longboat Key.  It’s going to be situated near the Mall off of Route 75. Though I don’t know the details of what inside will be like (not sure many people do), my gut says Mote’s passion for education will sting ring true when you walk through the doors. 

Read more about Mote’s Founding Research Director, Eugenie Clark and why she was nicknamed the “Shark Lady.”

The photo to the above is that of an image that stretch along the wall of the shark exhibit.  One could say the whole shark exhibit is in dedication to Dr. Eugenie Clark and her passion for shark research and conservation.  Read more about her legacy here.

“Sharks are among the most perfectly constructed creatures in nature. Some forms have survived for two hundred million years.” 
— Dr. Eugenie Clark
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