In honor of Mote Marine Laboratory's 55th anniversary this year, the Florida House passed a resolution on Wednesday, March 10, recognizing the nonprofit organization as a "powerhouse of near-shore marine research" and commended its "tireless pursuit of answers to some of the ocean's most pressing questions" and its efforts to share "its knowledge with the world."
The resolution, introduced by Rep. Keith Fitzgerald, D-Sarasota, was co-sponsored by 111 representatives during Oceans Day in Tallahassee. Florida Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, has also introduced a similar resolution in the Senate. (Click here to view a PDF of the full resolution at www.mote.org/hr9013.)
"Today is Oceans Day at the Florida Capitol and in honor of Mote Marine Laboratory's 55th anniversary, we'd like to commemorate the accomplishments of this important institution," Fitzgerald said Wednesday on the House floor as he introduced the resolution. (Click here for info about Oceans Day.)
Mote was created in 1955 by Dr. Eugenie Clark, who will herself be inducted into the Florida Women's Hall of Fame later this month. From its beginnings as a small, one-room, one-woman operation focused on sharks, the Lab has grown into one of Florida's leading marine research and outreach organizations with a main campus in Sarasota and field stations in eastern Sarasota County, Charlotte Harbor and the Florida Keys. Mote has nearly 200 staff members conducting research on sharks, red tide, marine mammals, sea turtles, coral reefs, fisheries, coastal ecology and aquaculture. Mote's 1,300 volunteers contribute more than 200,000 volunteer hours to the organization.
Each year, 350,000 visitors are drawn to Mote Aquarium, one of the largest attractions in Southwest Florida, and another 28,000 students are educated through Mote programs on campus and even off campus through SeaTrek, Mote's premiere Distance Learning program.
The resolution also noted Mote's numerous academic affiliations with Florida universities, including its "landmark affiliation agreement with the University of South Florida that allows two of the state's leading research institutions to join forces in new science ventures, provide expanded learning programs, and create economic development opportunities for the region."
"On behalf of Mote's scientists, staff, volunteers and board members, I am truly honored to accept this recognition," said Mote President, Dr. Kumar Mahadevan, who was in Tallahassee Wednesday. Mahadevan and members of Mote's Board of Trustees were recognized on the House floor after the resolution was passed.
"Mote was just a small field station when it started," Mahadevan said. "Throughout the years, through the efforts of many, we've been able to increase the knowledge about Florida's environment and expand our research programs into other areas of the world. We could not have been so successful in our research, conservation and outreach missions without the support of Florida's residents, our local delegation members and the Legislature as a whole."