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Programs and events that promote ecology

by Roger Pettingell

Saving the oceans through conservation

Local initiatives support programs through Mote and other organizations

Mote Science Education Aquarium
Mote Science Education Aquarium - Completion of this new addition to the park is expected in 2022.

Try a fun little exercise at the next social gathering. Ask someone to name the local organizations involved in animal and sea conservation efforts. You will receive the answers you might expect such as Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium founded by Eugenie Clark. You can sense their level of community involvement if they name Save Our Seabirds with its Avian Hospital.

Every May 1 through October 31 media outlets post outdoor lighting and beach restrictions with the various organizations that gather information on turtle nesting. These organizations made up of mostly volunteers in the Gulf- front areas walk the beaches daily in an effort to give these sea creatures the best opportunity to hatch the next batch of these sea creatures.

Mote’s sea turtle programs are under permits of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Research Institute. Six reporting groups, Venice to Longboat Key: Manatee County, count loggerhead, green and leatherback nesting numbers and reported a record loggerhead 4,926 nests in 2019. Even the four leatherback nests reported created excitement among the 300 volunteers and interns involved in the activities. Leatherbacks are the largest species of turtles and protected as an endangered species.

The Executive Director of the Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring program Suzi Fox, reported 27,298 sea turtle hatchlings in the 2019 season. The record was set in 2018 with 35,788 hatchlings reported. These numbers are not combined in the report from Mote. She spoke on Saturday at the Center of Anna Maria Island. The Center is a non-profit focused on education and offers recreational opportunities for teens on Anna Maria Island. Saturday’s program was to promote their green initiative for fiscal profitability. Fundraising is also through events such as those on Saturday and concerts including one with Sha Na Na on December 14.

Going Green
Center on Anna Maria Island - Announced its Going Green fund drive Saturday night.

There are other conservation programs running under the radar. The Sarasota Bay Estuary program helps to maintain high water quality and habitat restoration. Since 1988, 1,600 acres of wetlands have been restored and there has been a 54 percent recovery of seagrass. The SBEP partners with local city governments to help support their goals. The Audubon Societies in Manatee and Sarasota counties are committed to protecting the environment. The Christmas bird count in Sarasota is popular among ornithologists, to be held January 4 in 2020.

Events throughout the year also bring attention to the earth and the oceans. Earth Day 2020 will be celebrated worldwide on April 22. Over 193 countries will support the Earth Day Network, founded in 1970 on college campuses in the United States. Since then Earth Day has been elevated to promote recycling programs and conservation education. World Oceans Day scheduled for June 8, 2020 draws a collaboration of countries around the globe to educate the importance of the oceans. Local events are also taking place. This upcoming Sunday the Stoked on Salt Ocean Conservation Day in Fort Lauderdale will be promoting its mission of the year, Youth Ocean Education. Groups will discuss issues from coral decay, sea life conservation and water quality.

And of course Mote also has its research and education programs throughout the year. They have long been associated with their outreach programs in shark populations, sea turtles, coral reef ecosystems and have satellites in other countries for research programs. The study of red tide in recent years has received international attention and public funding.

Plans are to continue this research at Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium on City Island even after completed construction of the Mote Science Education Aquarium at Nathan Benderson Park off Interstate 75. Michael Crosby, president and CEO of Mote Marine, recently stated that the goal is to transform this area into the Silicon Valley of marine research. The new location with its five story structure on 12 acres will be more accessible to Manatee and Sarasota resident and serve as an icon for visitors travelling the interstate. Mote SEA is expected to be completed in 2022 and is seeking funds to begin construction.

Phillipe Cousteau, Jr
Phillipe Cousteau, Jr - The grandson of Jacques Cousteau delivered Ocean of Hope keynote address Saturday night at the Center on Anna Maria Island.

The Center on Anna Maria Island invited famed oceanographer Phillipe Cousteau, Jr, grandson of Jacques Cousteau, to deliver its Ocean of Hope keynote address on Saturday night. Jacques Cousteau gained world recognition for his co-development with Emile Gagnon of the Aqua-lung regulator that scuba divers use for underwater breathing. His legacy on the famed Calypso boat traveled the world to study and promote the oceans through television shows and books.

Phillipe continued his father’s work as an oceanographer, who died in an airplane crash shortly before his son was born in 1980. Now an accomplished oceanographer himself, Phillipe Jr co-stars with his wife Ashlan in the Caribbean Pirate Treasure series on the Travel Channel. He received an Emmy nomination in 2017 as host of Awesome Planet. Along with his television productions, he travels to promote education of his conservation efforts. He spoke in front of a packed arena Saturday on environmental issues and the depletion of the mangroves in southwest Florida.

We enjoy the many benefits the Gulf ecosystem provides for us. It’s also my life’s passion to turn visitors into homeowners in this paradise. Last week I listed three homes for sale that may be especially attractive to those who wish to be directly on the water. The luxury of brand-new, Gulf-front living can be yours to enjoy at this stunning, 5BR beach estate at 2905 Casey Key Road. Situated directly on the private shores of Casey Key, this elevated home offers more than a 1/2- acre of beachfront property and was just built in 2019. Ideal Gulf-front living is a breeze at this 4BR beach home. Flourishing in recent renovations, from the Florida pine wood floors, to the glass French doors that open to your own boardwalk to the beach, this delightful getaway will be hard to ever leave at 7760 Manasota Key Road. Walk directly out a few steps from this 3BR beach getaway in the Privateer South community to enjoy powdery-white shores and azure Gulf waves. Move right into this furnished, light and bright residence at 1000 Longboat Club Road #101. Please contact me at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing or if you have a property to sell or buy.

Address List Price Media Slideshow
2905 Casey Key Road $6,450,000 Video Photo Slideshow
7760 Manasota Key Road $1,895,000 Video Photo Slideshow
1000 Longboat Club Road #101 $1,095,000 Video Photo Slideshow


Call us at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing


Good news and announcements at Mote Marine

by Roger Pettingell

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.

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Roger Pettingell of Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate is your Longboat Key, Florida Luxury Real Estate Specialist. Roger provides his real estate expertise to sellers, investors, developers, and buyers in the Sarasota area including Anna Maria, Bird Key, Bradenton Beach, Casey Key, Cortez, Grand Bay, Holmes Beach, Longboat Key, Marina Bay, Osprey and Siesta Key. Search for homes, luxury homes, condominiums, investment property, development property, and vacant land and lots on the Longboat Key, Florida and the surrounding area.