SARASOTA – The Mote Marine Laboratory is looking forward to a big year in 2013. After bringing in more than $8 million in grants, contracts and cooperative agreements in 2012, Mote is engaged in a wide range of studies critical to the region’s environment. Dedicated to "today’s research for tomorrow’s oceans" with an emphasis on research relevant to conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity, healthy habitats and natural resources, the independent, nonprofit 501(c)3 research organization which was founded in 1955, is based in Sarasota, Fla., with field stations in eastern Sarasota County, Charlotte Harbor and the Florida Keys.
Mote's popular Sea Lion exhibit
photo: Mote Marine Lab
In 2012, Mote's efforts were validated by 85 publications in peer-reviewed scientific journal articles and in popular media. Scientists at Mote also expanded their already voluminous international partnerships, adding relationships with researchers in Japan, Israel and other nations. Mote continued its mission to foster science and ocean literacy. The lab's school and public programs reached nearly 17,000 people, while Mote Mobile and other traveling exhibits reached another quarter of a million plus, fostering ocean education across a broad swath of communities.
Mote was also a partner in a historic reef restoration project last year, growing corals in an underwater nursery in the Lower Keys, hundreds of which were outplanted to reefs. Scientists transplanted nursery-grown staghorn and elkhorn corals to degraded reefs in Florida and the U.S. Virgin Islands with the goal of transplanting up to 10,000 of the corals as part of the largest marine restoration project of its kind in the world. Experts hope that the transplanted young corals will thrive and reproduce, helping to recover populations of these two threatened species.
Mote also hosted 50 high school interns and 170 college interns in 2012, both of which set new records for the institution. The local community continued to support the group, not only with generous donations, but with manhours. 1,600 area residents volunteered at Mote last year, sharing their time and expertise as Aquarium docents, behind-the-scenes contributors and even research assistants in the lab. In all, the lab says they donated 212,500 service hours, for an estimated value of $4.6 million.
A rescued bottlenose dolphin is rehabbed at Mote’s
Dolphin and Whale Hospital. photo: Mote Marine Lab
Mote volunteers made big news when they provided critical care for a bottlenose dolphin that stranded on Longboat Key last June. The dolphin, nicknamed Edna, was found on the beach by volunteers working with Mote’s Sea Turtle Patrol. The patrollers came upon the stranded animal and played a critical role in helping to stabilize it, while alerting Mote staff members who responded to the scene where Edna was transported to the lab for rehabilitation before being successfully re-released.
Meanwhile, the Aquarium at Mote continued to serve as a regional hub for promoting the science of the sea, welcoming an estimated 360,000 visitors, partly due to the success of their wildly popular, limited-time exhibit Penguin Island. In December, the lab debuted its new limited-time exhibit: Sea Lions: On The Water’s Edge.
Last year, Mote also laid the foundation for new education programs in Charlotte County, which will kick off with the Science Cafe series program “Go fish,” January 30 at Laishley Crab House in Punta Gorda. A discussion about how dolphins and humans hunt for fish, the program is much more than a game for devoted anglers and for dolphins catching prey. Participants will learn about the skills needed to make the catch from Kim Hull, Senior Biologist in the Dolphin Research Program at Mote, and from Charlotte Harbor angler Josh Olive, Publisher of WaterLine Weekly Magazine. Stay tuned to TBT to learn what other exciting things Mote has up their sleeve for 2013.
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