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A Guide to Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium

There are a lot of attractions in and near Sarasota, but the Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium has to be one of the top family favorites.  Young and old alike will find Mote to be exciting, fascinating as well as educational.  This guide will put you in the know before you go so that you and your family can make the most of your time at this Sarasota landmark.

Getting There

Address:  1600 Ken Thompson Parkway, Sarasota, FL 34236

Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium is located on City Island, just a few minutes from downtown Sarasota.  You can there by car or bus.  Parking is free.  Mote Marine is open 9:30 am to 5 pm every day, 365 days a year.

History

Mote Marine Laboratory is one of the oldest marine research labs in Florida.  The facility began as a small one-room building in 1955 and was originally called the Cape Haze Marine Laboratory.  It was later renamed for William R. Mote, a major benefactor to the lab.  The laboratory has been located in Sarasota since 1960 and has been at City Island since 1978.  The aquarium opened in 1980.

Today Mote is home to more than 200 staff members, including more than 30 Ph.D. scientists.  From the headquarters in Sarasota, Mote conducts research on six of the seven continents.  The Mote Aquarium is an exciting place to visit, but the research that takes place at Mote Laboratory attempts to expand and ultimately transform our understanding of the oceans that surround us.  The oceans truly are the life-support system that provides oxygen, food, medicines, and enhanced quality of life for all nations.

Exhibits

One of the most fascinating exhibits is the giant 135,000-gallon shark habitat featuring bonnetheads, sandbars, nurses, and black noses.  Onlookers can watch shark feedings scheduled throughout the day.  Mote is the only center for shark research that is designated by the U.S. Congress.  Other inhabitants of the shark habitat include the goliath grouper and other Florida game fishes. 

Otters & Their Waters is another popular exhibit that features playful North American river otters.  Mote also has two manatees, Hugh & Buffet, that are always crowd pleasers.  Another favorite exhibit is entitled Sea Turtles: Ancient Survivors where you can get close to these magnificent creatures.  Other exhibits include Virtual Reality Experience, Megalodon Jaw & Fossil Creek, Exploration Gallery, and Creatures from the Coastal Oceans.

Mote also has a variety of touch pools where guests can actually lay their hands on rays and other exotic marine animals.

Other Experiences

If you want to further your education and experience with Mote, consider programs like Kayaking with Mote, EcoTours on the Mote Boat, and early morning, Breakfast with the Sharks that are available for extra fees.

Deep Sea Diner

With so many exhibits to visit, your family will need to take a break and eat sometime.  The Deep Sea Diner is a casual, retro diner with a 1950s vibe.  It serves up affordable, family-style cuisine like burgers, salads, chicken sandwiches, grilled cheese, hot dogs, onion rings, and fries.

What to Expect

Wear comfortable shoes because there is a fair amount of walking, but not nearly as bad as walking around in a large amusement park.  Guests can walk at their own pace through the exhibits.  You can spend as little as three hours or the majority of the day, depending on your level of interest.  Children will find it both interesting and educational, which is unusual for most attractions that only provide entertainment.

For more information, including times, ticket options, and daily live streams, visit https://mote.org/.

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