Mote Marine Laboratory

Mote Marine Laboratory is an independent, nonprofit, marine research organization based on City Island in Sarasota, Florida, with additional campuses in eastern Sarasota County, Boca Grande, Florida, and the Florida Keys. Founded in 1955 by Dr. Eugenie Clark in Placida, Florida, it was known as the Cape Haze Marine Laboratory until 1967. The laboratory aims to advance marine science and education, supporting conservation and sustainable use of marine resources. A public aquarium and associated education program interpret its research for the public.

Mote Marine Laboratory
Official logo
Date opened1955 (1955)
LocationSarasota, Florida
Coordinates27°19′58.5″N 82°34′37.7″W
Land area10.5 acres (4.2 ha)
Annual visitors333,661 (2017)[1]


The laboratory, founded by Dr. Eugenie Clark in 1955 in Placida, Florida, was known as Cape Haze Marine Laboratory until its 1967 renaming in honor of major benefactors of the laboratory William R. Mote, his wife Lenore, and his sister, Betty Mote Rose. Early research was focused on sharks and other fishes. Since 1960, it has been based in Sarasota, Florida, and has been located on City Island since 1978.

The laboratory celebrated its 55th anniversary during 2010, and was recognized for its marine science with a resolution in the Florida House and Senate during March 2010. During March 2010 Eugenie Clark was inducted into the Florida Women's Hall of Fame. When the laboratory celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2015, it unveiled its first multi-year, comprehensive fundraising effort, Oceans of Opportunity: the Campaign for Mote Marine Laboratory.[3] Clark was still working as senior scientist, director emerita, and trustee at the laboratory when she died in February 2015.[4]

As of 2017, the laboratory employed more than 200 staff members, including Ph.D. scientists conducting research through more than 20 research programs on coral health and disease, chemical and physical ecology, phytoplankton ecology, ocean acidification, marine and fresh water aquaculture, fisheries habitat ecology, stranding investigations, ecotoxicology, sharks and rays conservation research, fisheries ecology and enhancement, coral reef monitoring and assessment, coral reef restoration, environmental health, ocean technology, marine immunology, benthic ecology, marine biomedical research, environmental forensics, sea turtle conservation and research, manatee research, and dolphin research. [5][6] In partnership of the Chicago Zoological Society [7] the laboratory conducts the world's longest-running study of a wild dolphin population.[8]

Since 1978, the laboratory has expanded to include a 10.5-acre (4.2 ha) campus in Sarasota, the Elizabeth Moore International Center for Coral Reef Research and Restoration on Summerland Key, a public exhibit in Key West, a Boca Grande outreach office, and the Mote Aquaculture Research Park in eastern Sarasota County. In addition to staff members, the laboratory has about 1,400 volunteers who contribute more than 200,000 volunteer hours to the organization.

Mote Aquarium

The aquarium is the public outreach arm of the laboratory, displaying more than 100 marine species with a focus on species and ecosystems studied by staff scientists. The aquarium is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, which accredits qualified facilities based on a rigorous application and inspection process focusing on animal care, conservation, and science, facilities and more.

The aquarium opened in 1980 on City Island in Sarasota Bay to display sharks, manatees, sea turtles, seahorses, rays, skates, and invertebrates including cuttlefish, octopuses, sea jellies, anemones, and corals. Special exhibits have included "Otters and Their Waters" and "The Teeth Beneath: The Wild World of Gators, Crocs, and Caimans" that features animals found in the watershed (land that drains into the ocean and other waterbodies), including North American river otters, American alligators, and spectacled caimans. A special exhibit "Oh Baby! Life Cycles of the Seas" deals with marine courtship and reproduction and features the offspring of multiple species and their early-life survival challenges through an interactive game, a baby shark touch tank, and other features.[9] The aquarium includes windows into working laboratories and interactive exhibits designed to make science accessible for all ages.

The aquarium presents shark feedings, in which large sharks are trained to go to specific targets for a food reward. Other resident animals, such as sea turtles and river otters, are fed and trained similarly during sessions designed to enhance their care and provide healthy stimulation. All narrated training and feeding sessions are designed specifically for animal care, and in some cases, to allow behavioral research intended to inform conservation of wild populations.

Until 2011, Harley, the last recorded spinner dolphin in captivity lived at Mote Aquarium.


The education, aquarium, and outreach division of the laboratory includes a marine science school and public programs for all ages. The laboratory also offers internships, summer camps, school visits, field trips, on-demand learning experiences, an annual special lecture series featuring staff scientists and other marine experts, and a digital-learning program called SeaTrek.TV, which connects staff educators to students and other audiences via live videoconferencing, often using common computer programs and service, making scientific lessons accessible to classrooms across the U.S. and abroad.[10] The laboratory also provides enhanced adult learning programs such as professional development workshops for teachers,[11] and multiple aquarium tanks are maintained at other southwest Florida facilities, including at the Sarasota–Bradenton International Airport.


A library has existed at the laboratory since its beginning in Cape Haze.[12]

For more than 35 years The Arthur Vining Davis Library and Archives has been providing resources, reference materials, and research publications at the laboratory. Its collections are maintained for the support of marine and environmental research and education. In addition to print and archival collections, the library maintains searchable online, open-access institutional repositories of staff publications, institutional papers, and items from historical collections. The library and archives are open to the public for study and exploration, however, appointments may be required.[13]

The library is a member of the International Association of Aquatic and Marine Science Libraries and Information Centers (IAMSLIC), an association of individuals and organizations interested in library and information science, especially as these are applied to the recording, retrieval, and dissemination of knowledge and information in all aspects of aquatic and marine sciences and their allied disciplines.[14]

Commercial programs

From 2006 to 2014, the laboratory produced "Mote caviar" (Siberian malossol osetra) from Siberian sturgeon at Mote Aquaculture Research Park in eastern Sarasota County as part of a demonstration of sustainable eco-sensitive aquaculture.[15] On November 24, 2014, the caviar production operation was sold to Southeast Venture Holdings, LLC (Seven Holdings).[16] Meanwhile, the laboratory continued to own the entire 200-acre research park and continued its sustainable aquaculture and aquaponics research, emphasizing a range of goals from eco-friendly food production to restocking wild fish populations. In early 2017, Seven Holdings concluded the sturgeon program, for financial reasons.

Staff at the park continue research programs investigating marine aquaponics (growing fish and salt-tolerant "sea vegetables" in prototype greenhouses), examining the potential for aquaculture production of the Gulf of Mexico stock of almaco jack, examining the effects of probiotic supplements on survival of larval fish, and other projects designed to inform and contribute to the growth of sustainable, commercial aquaculture.


Paid employees of Mote Marine Laboratory posted edits to this article on several dates, which have been edited to conform to encyclopedic format.


  1. "Mote Marine Laboratory 2017 Annual Report". Issuu. April 30, 2018. Retrieved January 22, 2019.
  2. "Currently Accredited Zoos and Aquariums". AZA. Retrieved January 22, 2019.
  3. "Mote Celebrates 60th Anniversary, Announces $50-million Fundraising Campaign | News & Press". Retrieved October 14, 2015.
  4. "Remembering Mote's "Shark Lady": The Life and Legacy of Dr. Eugenie Clark | News & Press". Retrieved October 14, 2015.
  6. Mote Marine Laboratory 2020 Vision&Strategic Plan: Version 2.0
  8. "Scientific Research". Retrieved October 14, 2015.
  10. "If you want to change the world, dive deeper". Retrieved October 14, 2015.
  11. "Mote to host professional development workshop for teachers | News & Press". Retrieved November 21, 2017.
  12. Clark, Eugenie (2010). The Lady and the Sharks. The Peppertree Press. ISBN 9781936051526. We also had a small office and file room and a sizable library room. We were accumulating all the books we could find and fit in our budget pertaining to marine life on the Gulf coast of Florida. We started subscriptions to scientific journals and much of my paperwork time was devoted to writing people and organizations to get the Lab's name on the mailing list for scientific papers on marine life. [...] Bill Vanderbilt shared one of his secretaries, Marion Suss, with me. Marion was the Lab's secretary, bookkeeper, librarian, and in a pinch helped measure and photograph sharks, clean and dry fishbones.
  13. "Research Library". Retrieved October 14, 2015.
  14. "IAMSLIC". Retrieved October 14, 2015.
  15. October 2012 Florida Trend pages 14,16
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