SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – Mote Marine is so much more than just an aquarium.
Guests can learn about all kinds of ocean creatures, from sharks found here in the Tampa Bay area to great whites, as well as other Florida species including manatees and various species of sea turtles.
Visitors at the Sarasota location can connect what they’re seeing to the actual research Mote Marine Laboratory is doing to protect our oceans.
Mote’s research originally began with sharks but has since expanded to include much more.
Guests can see working laboratories during their visit.
“So you can see some of our working labs such as our biomedical research immunology lab and see what we’re doing with skates and rays to better understand things like human health,” said Public Relations Manager Stephannie Kettle.
“You can see the connection between our shark research, where we’re tracking great white sharks out in the ocean, and you can follow along at an interactive display here at the aquarium and then you can see sharks that live in your back yard,” she added. “So it’s a really great connection between the research we’re doing and visiting the aquarium.”
Some of the Florida species that aquarium guests can see include scallops, stingrays and playful river otters, but Kettle says two of Mote’s residents stand out among visitors.
“Our guests’ favorite that we have here at Mote Marine Lab and Aquarium is Hugh and Buffet, our two resident manatees. They are probably some of the most famous manatees in the world. So they’re really fun to see. One of them, he likes to come and give a nose boop on the glass which is really fun for our guests,” she said. “It’s really important for our guests who are residents or visitors from out of state to see what kind of awesome wildlife we have right here in Florida.”
The aquarium also recently added a new virtual reality experience where guests can be completely immersed with sound, movement and 3D video for a $6 charge.
To keep the “Shark Week” party going and in honor of their long history of shark research, Mote is also celebrating their “Shark Days” with many events next week.
“Starting with a science café at local restaurant Sage, (a) really great restaurant in Sarasota that you guys have to try. You can learn about shark research while having some yummy food. We have sharks and crafts. Not arts and crafts… sharks and crafts,” Kettle explained. “And then we have our family festival on Saturday, August 10 with lots of cool activities going on for people to learn more about sharks.”
Kettle told us there is one thing Mote hopes their guests take away from their visit.
“We really hope that our guests realize that if they live on the coast or if they live well inland, the oceans matter and they make our lives better. And I think they can really learn that and feel that at Mote Marine Lab,” she said.
Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium is open every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is located at 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway in Sarasota. You can find more information to help you plan your next trip to Mote below.
Admission Prices (online and onsite):
Adults (13 and older): $24
Youth (3-12): $18
Children (0-2): Free
Mote Members: Free admission https://mote.org/support/membership
Military discounts: All active-duty military personnel get free admission with current ID.
Travel time to Mote Marine Laboratory (links will update to current traffic conditions, weekday afternoon conditions listed):
– From Downtown Tampa: 1 hour, 13 minutes
– From Brandon: 1 hour, 10 minutes
– From New Port Richey: 1 hour, 52 minutes
– From Lakeland: 1 hour, 38 minutes
– From Bradenton: 36 minutes
– From Orlando: 2 hours, 21 minutes