This past weekend, we went to Mote Aquarium. This is going to sound SO corny, but Mote is one of the many reasons we are lucky to live where we do. You see, Mote isn’t just a regular aquarium. It is actually Mote Marine Laboratory, which is a research center and a hospital for marine animals.
The ocean and the creatures in it are things that are very near and dear to Hubby & me. We both grew up on the Gulf and spent a lot of time on the water. We love to surf, boat, fish, kayak, camp… anything that you can do at the beach or on the water, we love it. It makes us incredibly sad to see the beaches erode away and the marine ecosystems die due to things that humans have done.
This is why Mote is so awesome: they started in 1955 as a research center and have been making huge strides in all kinds of marine research ever since. The different areas of study they cover is huge – coral reefs, fisheries, aquaculture… not to mention research on specific oceanic species. They have state of the art facilities for rescuing all types of marine life and do a lot of work with rehabilitating dolphins, manatees and sea turtles. The aquarium was opened quite some time after the research center as a means to educate the public about the welfare of marine life.
In fact, a majority of the larger marine life at the aquarium are animals that have been rescued and deemed unreleasable into the wild due to health concerns… like Harley the dolphin who has a liver abnormality or Hang Tough the blind turtle who was brought to Mote with hook in one eye and skull fracture that blinded his other eye. There aren’t any dolphin shows or anything like that at Mote… which I think is wonderful. Not that I don’t like watching dolphins & whales do cool tricks, but I love that Mote is a place where children (and adults!) can learn about these creatures without thinking that they are just here for our entertainment.
One of my favorite parts of Mote is the turtle exhibit. Buggy liked the turtles, too. The beaches in Sarasota county are home to one of the biggest Loggerhead turtle hatching populations. Mote is hugely to thank for this. They do an incredible job of keeping the beaches here safe for the turtles to hatch and make their way into the water each year.
Most of the exhibits at the aquarium pertain directly to the sea life that we have in our area. There is a sea horse conservation lab, aquariums with all sorts of fish & coral, lots of jelly fish, a feeding pond with snook and grouper (something you see a lot of in Florida) and two touch tanks with rays, starfish, conchs, urchins and the like. The staff and volunteers are wonderful and full of knowledge and fun facts about each exhibit.
Because Hubby & I love the ocean so much, we are so happy that we have such a wonderful learning resource nearby for Bug. We hope to spend a lot of time at Mote through the years teaching Eli how precious the life in and around the water is.