Many things to many ocean species

Since 1955 this organization has been at the forefront of marine research

Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium
Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium - The Aquarium was added in 1980 for a public view of the research.

Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium has been in the news a lot lately. The base campus and aquarium on City Island is notably the most visible of their research facilities but there are four other facilities in Florida that research on the oceans is an ongoing effort. The Mote Aquaculture Research Park on Fruitville Road, Mote Boca Grande, Mote Eco-Discovery Center in Key West and the Elizabeth Moore International Center for Coral Reef Research & Restoration in Summerland all have different perspectives on the Mote ocean research mission. These are the field stations that support research that is ongoing in all seven continents.

And now we are pondering what happens to City Island if Mote Marine moves its aquarium to a proposed site that is between the rowing lake of Nathan Benderson Park and the new Mall at University Town Center. For Mote it is in an ideal location for the view of 43 million travelers each year on Interstate 75. The announcement in February caused a stir in the community that Mote was abandoning Longboat Key. An article in the Longboat Observer newspaper on April 1 reported plans that the laboratory and aquarium would be replaced by a 400,000-square-foot modern shopping complex. Please note the publication date of the news article before writing any letters or emails.

In any event though Mote Marine is not abandoning their facility on City Island when the new aquarium opens, expected to be in 2021. Instead the new aquarium will expand again and add a sixth facility to its field centers. The new aquarium will be a highly visible tourist attraction for Sarasota while the research laboratories on City Island will be transformed into attracting more scientists that have been looking for space to conduct their lab research.

Most research as reported by Association of Zoos & Aquariums
Dr. Michael Crosby, Mote Marine President and CEO - "This study reflects our dedication to innovative and meaningful research," on the AZA report.

Since its beginning in 1955, Mote Marine has been a leader in marine research and is the oldest such facility in Florida. In 1980 the aquarium was added to give a public view of the scientific examination of oceans, from the smallest to largest creatures that live underwater. In March Mote Marine was recognized the second highest research production among the 228 non-profits in the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA). On April 2 the same organization awarded Mote Marine accreditation as a leader in providing animal care and a meaningful experience for visitors. Mote Marine applies for this distinguished award every five years before an audit and inspection. This is the fourth accreditation since its first in 2003.

Mote Marine has extensive data on manatees, sea turtles, sharks, dolphins, coral reefs, and more than most on just about anything else under the sea. Recently Mote Marine scientists published a new procedure for taking the temperature of manatees, oral thermometers are just too impractical for this procedure. Trained resident manatees Hugh and Buffett were involved in this study. Mote Marine maintains a statewide catalog of manatees and shares that information with two other organizations in Florida.

To celebrate and raise funds for protecting nesting turtles Mote Marine this month held its 32nd annual Run for the Turtles. Turtle nesting season runs from May 1 to October 31. Residents are asked to help in the protection of eggs through a series of requirements so the turtles have a safe journey to the nesting area and that the hatchlings can safely make their first entry into the Gulf of Mexico. Education flyers and kiosks provide information on ways to help and laws that are enforced during this period. In 2017 new rules were announced to increase the safety of nesting turtles. Turtle watch organizations supported by Mote Marine identify and mark the nesting areas during the season. They also report this information, the 2017 summaries are available online at the Mote Marine website and also reported in local news organizations.

One of the many exhibits at the aquarium open to the public
Educational Exhibits - High quality displays at Mote Marine provide a vast amount of information.

Mote Marine researcher Dr. David Vaughan, executive director of the Summerland coral field office reported this week in the Yale Climate Connections a new procedure for growing coral. His discoveries in the lab are now transferrable to the world’s oceans. Mote Marine has also developed other methods to speed the expansion of slow-growing brain, boulder and star corals through micro-fragmentation and fusion. Mote Marine has planted 20,000 of the faster growing staghorn corals into the reefs of the Florida keys. Last year Dr. Erinn Muller was the first to report the effects of low pH on the increase of a world epidemic of black band, a disease affecting 42 different species of coral.

Scientist Carl Luer is researching the intensifying evidence that sharks have the potential to save human lives by examining their metabolisms. For decades scientists have looked at the ability of sharks to heal their wounds. Over the years shark fin has been sold by Japanese herbalists to promote well-being but their finning process of catching sharks only for their fins has been criticized world-wide.

Over the years Mote Marine scientists have given testimony and reviewed pending legislation before congress. The Sustainable Shark Fisheries and Trade Act was reviewed by Dr. Bob Hueter, senior scientist at Mote Marine. Dr. John Reynolds was appointed to lead the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission from 1991 to 2010. He passed away on December 23, 2017. This commission was responsible for manatees, whales and polar bears. Dr. Kevan Main served as president of the World Aquaculture Society.

Sarasota Lionfish Derby
Sarasota Lionfish Derby - Volunteers weigh and measure this invasive species at the 2016 derby.

There are many programs offered at Mote Marine to educate the public on the world oceans. The problems of marine debris presentation will be held at 6 PM today. The Environmental Summit by the Science and Environment Council kicks off with a keynote address by Jack Davis, author and professor at the University of Florida. The keynote will be held at 5:30 PM on April 25 at Mote Marine while the summit runs April 25 to 27 at New College of Florida. World Oceans Day is celebrated June 2 with an all-day family festival. A three-day Sarasota Lionfish Derby that begins July 6 is one of education, collection and research on this invasive species of fish. A list of events for fundraising and education is available on the Mote Marine website.

Mote Marine receives its funding through donations and fund-raisers, with door and event gate receipts. It also receives a portion of its operational funding through grants. Memberships and venue rentals add to the revenue of this non-profit. Volunteers are needed to support the staff and help with educational programs. Valuable training is also given to volunteers. Contact the office to get involved with this valuable program that means so much to this community.