Mote Marine Laboratory, founded in 1955, is an independent, nonprofit research organization that showcases scientific research and displays marine life found in southwest Florida. It is located on City Island in Sarasota, Florida, on a 10.5-acre site. It is accredited through the American Association of Museums and has approximately 400,000 visitors each year.
When we entered the aquarium, volunteers, who were happy to talk about the amazing sea life we were observing, greeted us. It was nice to have someone to learn from and ask questions to rather than just reading the fact sheets that you find at most aquariums. The aquarium featured many species that inhabit the southwestern Florida region, as well as exhibits depicting research at Mote. We saw sharks in the 135,000-gallon shark exhibit, touched marine life in Contact Cove and Remarkable Rays displays, and watched Mysterious Mollusks.
A second building across the road housed Mote's Marine Mammal Center featuring resident manatees, sea turtles, and Mote's aquaculture work. The Roy and Susan Palmer Sea Turtle Center educates the public about sea turtles and the importance of conservation and rehabilitates sick and injured sea turtles. The exhibit is home to non-releasable turtles and also serves as a temporary home for turtles undergoing rehabilitation. My sons learned about how sea turtles bury their eggs and the hatchlings run to the sea. The whole family was amazed by a giant sea turtle who had recently been rescued and was in the process of being rehabilitated. We later learned that the turtle passed away the next day. How sad! However, the Mote Marine Laboratory is doing incredible work to help the species survive.
Hours are from 10am to 5pm daily, including all holidays. They were even open Christmas Day!
General Admission is $12 for adults and $8 for children (ages 4 to 12).
To receive a discount coupon, go to their website. While there, check out their Calendar of Mote Events.
The laboratory is also studying he red tide in Florida. For information and updates, check out the Mote Marine Red Tide Update page.
I highly recommend the aquarium for a half-day family trip. If you really want to learn about marine life, book their educational boat trip as part of a combination package.