The answers are in the ocean. This is Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium's catch phrase and it sums up all that they stand for in a lovely little clamshell. The future survival of the ocean is ultimately important to Mote and their work is world-renowned. They encourage you to explore all that the wonderful world of the ocean has to offer.

From the unimaginable depths to the wondrous creatures that live there, the ocean has always been a dark mystery to us humans. Tranquil and peaceful at times but with the flip of an imaginary switch the ocean can turn into a monster that will unleashed its powers onto any unsuspecting traveler, leaving wrath in its wake.

From their interactive touch pools to their high-tech exhibits, the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium is more than just a water zoo. The many animals that habitat this magnificent place range from sea turtles to manatees, from sharks to otters, and right down to the peculiar sea fossils.

Beginning from a modest start in a small backyard shed in Florida, these scientists started out focusing on sharks mainly, but have expanded and grown to cover a myriad of topics such as the study of human cancer utilizing marine models, the effects of man-made toxins on the ocean and developing ocean technology to understand how healthy or unhealthy the environment is. There is something for everyone at Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium in Sarasota, Florida. Certain attractions may be temporarily closed or require advance reservations. Hours/availability may have changed.

1.Mote Aquarium

Mote Aquarium  

The Mote Aquarium boasts a 135,000-gallon shark habitat that is second to none! And as shark study was their first love on opening their doors in 1955, Mote has kept up and exploded this study to include all species of sharks. From Stingrays, which you can actually touch in their Ray Tray touch pool, to the Bonnethead sharks, which closely resemble the Hammerhead's, you will be blown away.

If you thought Otters weren't connected to the ocean, then you would be wrong. The specific Otter exhibit is one to not miss. Here you get up close and personal with these fun loving creatures.

Having been accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Mote Aquarium has been upgrading their facilities on an ongoing basis to ensure they meet the strict standards set and that they can provide their animals with the ultimate care they need.

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2.Aquarium Exhibits

Aquarium Exhibits  

Mote has so many exhibits and they are adding new ones every year. Here are just a few of the Aquarium Exhibits that will entice and delight you.

Otters and Their Waters

These North American river Otters were saved by Mote from definite death as they were orphaned at a very young age. The Otter exhibit now has 3 adorable and fun-loving Otters, 2 girls and a boy, aptly named Huck, Pippi and Jane.

During the training sessions you can join, you will learn how the Otters were transported, reared and rehabilitated to the good health they now have.

The Otters and Their Waters exhibit is open daily from 10:00am to 05:00pm.

Shark Zone

Now, as mentioned, sharks have taken a firm place in the hearts of the founders of Mote, and still do to this day. With their larger than large shark tank and many species, Mote has not only dedicated many hours to conserving these amazing creatures, but also to utilizing their environment and learning about their living habits to find out why it is that sharks very infrequently suffer from cancer. They want to work out, simply, if this holds some secret for our cancer sufferers and us as humans in general.

The shark exhibit is open daily and the training sessions take place at 11:00am each Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Besides the many species of shark, such as the goliath grouper, hammerheads, stingrays and bonnethead sharks, the tank also homes a large school of Florida game fish.

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3.Creatures from the Reef

Creatures from the Reef  

Everyone loves a pretty fish and Mote has plenty to enthrall you. From Spotfin Butterfly Fish to French Angel Fish, you will be awed and flabbergasted by the array of color and shapes.

Besides learning about these tropical beauties, you can see what coral reefs are all about and what restoration projects the scientists are working on at the moment.

Take a few steps further and you will meet the Florida locals, slipper lobsters, spiny lobsters and their friends the scorpion fish and toadfish.

Not sure yet if this exhibit is for you, check out the seahorses and learn all about their unusual birthing method.

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4.Sea Turtles – Ancient Survivors

Sea Turtles – Ancient Survivors  

The dinosaurs of the sea, the sea turtles, are phenomenal creatures, spanning centuries in existence. Mote has a mission to save every last one of them from pure extinction and the human predator.

Meet the Resident Sea Turtles of Mote

Their special Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Hospital was created to treat the sick turtles with the thought in mind to place them back into the wild again. Some don't leave though, like Hang Tough, their old turtle that is blind.

Other loggerhead sea turtles, Shelley and Montego, are also staying for life, but only because they are complete with their assistance with the growth and mating studies conducted. They now help Mote in educating the youth as well as the general public in all there is to know about sea turtles.

Harry is a special green turtle that was unfortunately hit by a boat back in 2007. Due to his injuries, he has some loss of vision, but is a happy sea turtle, homing it up with the manatees Buffett and Hugh.

A sad story follows Bellatrix, who is the newest addition to the Sea Turtle sanctuary at Mote. She swallowed a fishing hook, which is permanently stuck inside her, but with the help of the awesomepeople at Mote, she should be able to live a comfortable life in the Aquarium. A note of caution please, should you be a fisherman, ensure that you pull in your fishing lines whilst moving as this will prevent unfortunate incidents like this.

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5.The Hatchling Hospital for Sea Turtles

The Hatchling Hospital for Sea Turtles  

Sea Turtle babies are phenomenal as they get going on their own very early on in their infancy, but sometimes, they need a little help. Mote has dedicated a special place in their Hatchling Hospital to care and treat these little guys until they are ready to be released back into their natural environment.

The Manatees of Mote

Manatees are an endangered species and when Mote got the opportunity to take the two sea cows of the ocean, Hugh and Buffet in, they grabbed them with both hands. Hugh and Buffett is not only the perfect diplomat for all manatees over the world, they participate in the manatee research projects that Mote often holds. They are fascinating creatures that resemble the sea lions or walrus's, but are quite different in many aspects. From their need to be alone, mostly sleeping unless they are feeding or finding a mate, Manatees will keep you intrigued all day long.

Fossil Creek

Fancy yourself a bit of a treasure hunter? Well, no matter your age, you will be excited to enter the Fossil Creek where you can grab a bucket and delve deep into the sea sands to discover all sorts of deep-sea cache. From the puffer fish mouths to the stingray barbs, from the shark teeth to the megalodon tooth, you find yourself digging away to locate and keep these fantastic ocean gems.

Fossil Creek only costs $9.99, so be sure to make your stop there on your next visit.

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6.Kids and Families

Kids and Families  

The littlies are very important to Mote and they believe that the youngsters are the future for eventually protecting and caring for our ocean families. By hosting summer camps, mommy and me programs, high school programs and involving the students in their research-based after school programs, they believe they are building the foundation for a positive future.

College and Adults

For those who are interested in a career in oceanology or any ocean-related vocation, Mote caters for this too. By means of their special lecture series, professional development programs, college internship program, research experience and FL Master Naturalist Program, they know that there will be a niche space for everyone.


Educating the public is also very close to Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium. The ways in which Mote brings their insurmountable knowledge to all is through a few mediums:

Schools and Groups

By means of hosting field trips, supplying outreach and classroom kits, catering for home-school programs, organizing sea snooze overnight trips, allocating scout badges and patches, and offering their unique technology club, Mote has managed to reach a broad spectrum of people, both local and overseas.

Digital Learning Programs

Should you find that you want to continue your experience with Mote, indulge in the Digital Learning Programs, which cover a wide range of topics from Sharks to Dolphins and everything in between.

So, as you can see Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium in Sarasota, Florida is the epitome of all that encompasses the ocean and the sea animals that habitat this wild and wonderful environment.

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1600 Ken Thompson Pkwy, Sarasota, Florida 34236, Phone: 941-388-4441

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Things to Do in Sarasota, Florida: Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium

You are reading "Things to Do in Sarasota, Florida: Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium " Back to Top