Mote Marine Breaks Ground on New Aquarium

Todays News

Plans for a new Mote Science Education Aquarium took a significant leap forward with a groundbreaking ceremony Friday at Nathan Benderson Park. The facility, which expects to attract 700,000 visitors through its doors each year should serve both as a major tourism attraction and an asset to education in the region.

“It also opens the door for growth and development for our international worldwide marine science, as well as our innovative educational programs at our other campuses,” said Dr. Sam Seider, chairman for Mote Marine Aquarium’s board of directors.

The new aquarium will include three state-of-the-art STEM teaching labs, Mote officials said, which will be offered up for free use to the school districts in Sarasota and Manatee counties.

Mote officials have stressed the opening of an aquarium near Interstate-75 won’t bring the closure of facilities in the city or other locations in the state, but rather will allow more research at existing structures. “Mote has operated significant facilities on our campuses, including some of the most iconic areas in Florida,” said Dr. Michael Crosby, president and CEO. “Charlotte Harbour, Siesta Key, City Island, the Florida Keys, and now right here at Nathan Benderson Park.”

Crosby imagine Mote SEA serving as an ideal gateway to the entire Sarasota-Manatee region, one easily accessible to 3 million residents within an hour drive of an attraction at the county line between the communities.

Elected officials also stressed the value of Mote to the area ecology and economy.

“When we’ve had problems in estuaries, when snook died in Charlotte Harbor estuary, Mote was there to help,” said U.S. Rep. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota. “When we had the BP oil spill, Mote was there. When we need research for red tide, Mote’s there. When we need research for all the different things that we’re trying to do to make water quality in the State of Florida along the coastline the best water quality in the nation, Mote is there.”

State Rep. James Buchanan, R-Sarasota, said the new aquarium will serve as a physical manifestation of the partnerships where Mote provides a foundation.

“There’s been so many conversations, partnerships, drawings on paper—all conceptual,” he said. “And now this becomes a reality for all Floridians and the folks that come to visit the great State of Florida. The vision of Mote SEA is to take science to all of you—to the public, to our elected officials, our policymakers, our educators and the next generation in order to protect Florida’s natural resources, and in keeping Florida’s coastline safe and resilient to sea level rise.”

Mote officials said the facility will serve as a visible attraction, but support the many intangible benefits for the region. “It’s important for us to continue to find ways to revitalize and sustain the ocean through research and education,” Seider said.

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