On 8 February 2018, Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium’s President & CEO, Dr. Michael P. Crosby, made the announced that Mote will build a spectacular new Aquarium on mainland Sarasota County, Florida.
The new Mote Science Education Aquarium will be designed and located strategically to serve a much greater cross-section of residents and visitors in Florida, and enhance ocean literacy opportunities and impacts for all. Powering this advance is Mote’s new, $130-million capital construction fundraising effort, Oceans for All: Improving Access to Marine Science & Technology. Contingent on progress toward this goal, Mote leaders aim to begin construction in 2019. The fundraising effort started strong with the announcement that commitments for over 20 percent of the facility’s total cost have already been made.
“At Mote Science Education Aquarium, science is the attraction, as it is the heart of our mission,” Crosby said. “This spectacular new facility and campus will embody our vision of Oceans for All, doubling the number of visitors whose lives are enriched by marine science each year, and providing no-cost opportunities for all schools to utilize specialized teaching labs to ensure that every child has the opportunity for hands-on marine science and technology experiences. The oceans are connected to everyone, every place in the world, and our goal is to ignite within each visitor a greater degree of curiosity to learn more about the oceans and their critical value in providing the oxygen we breathe, food, medicine, economic impact and overall quality of our lives.”
With 110,000 square feet of space and 1 million gallons of exhibit water, Mote Science Education Aquarium will: more than double the size of Mote Aquarium on City Island; expand the ability to feature marine animals and scientific displays from around the world; deepen visitors’ experiences through interactive teaching labs, onsite diving programs, scientific demonstrations and creatively interwoven, interactive technology; and above all, provide informal science education to a larger, more diverse audience. More than three million Florida residents will be able to access Mote Science Education Aquarium by driving 60 minutes or less, and the projected visitor number for opening year is near 700,000.
Mote leaders have had preliminary discussions with appropriate officials from Sarasota County to understand the potential opportunities for use of approximately 5 acres of county-owned land within Nathan Benderson Park, a highly accessible location in a hotspot of community growth adjacent to Interstate 75. The interstate’s intersection with University Parkway hosts an average 60,000 drivers on both sides daily, allowing an expected average of 43 million drivers to view Mote’s new facility each year. With Mote’s announcement of the overall concept and goals for Mote Science Education Aquarium, Mote is now planning to initiate a formal request for a lease to be approved.