Mote Surpasses Funding for New Facility

Science

BY PHILIP LEDERER SRQ DAILY MONDAY BUSINESS EDITION MONDAY SEP 26, 2016

Though the fundraising campaign does not end until October 29, Mote Marine Laboratory’s Ocean’s of Opportunity: The Campaign for Mote Marine Laboratory has already officially reached and is surpassing its stated goal of $50 million. Begun in January 2015, this first-ever comprehensive fundraising campaign for the laboratory not only provides support for Mote’s educational and postdoctoral programs but also enables the construction of Mote’s new coral research and restoration facility in the Florida Keys.

At the existing facility on Summerland Key, Mote scientists have already contributed significantly to restoration efforts centered around threatened staghorn corals in the depleted reefs of the Florida Keys, where environmental stresses have led to massive losses. Twenty thousand coral fragments have by now been planted, but Dr. David Vaughan, executive director of Mote’s Summerland Key lab, says that with the new facility he hopes to increase that number to a million in the coming years.

“The successful completion of this historic campaign does not signal an end; rather it heralds a new beginning for Mote, and we are overcome with gratitude,” says Mote President and CEO Dr. Michael Crosby. “The momentum generated by our supporters will help propel this unique, independent institution into a new era by empowering our freedom to pursue innovative science.”

With a little over a month to go in the campaign, the $50-million goal was reached thanks to support from 23,000 donors, 12,000 of which were new. Eighty percent came from private individuals and families, with every state in the US represented, several US territories and international support. Donations came in all shapes and sizes, from the 11 gifts of $1 million or more from community members and institutions to the $3,449 raised by 13-year-old Lexi Mariash, whose company Turtle Inc., hosted a mini-golf tournament to rally support. Matched by the nonprofit Positive Tracks, the tournament brought a total of $6,898 to the effort.

Down in Summerland Key, the new coral research and restoration facility continues apace. The land has been cleared, 178 foundation piles drilled, all pile caps installed, the seawall extended and underground plumbing and electric continue to progress. Over the next few months, the crane and the concrete arrive and vertical construction is expected to begin, with an opening planned for early 2017.

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