What to Expect at Mote Aquarium & Laboratory

What to Expect at Mote Aquarium & Laboratory

For decades, the Mote Laboratory & Aquarium has been one of Sarasota’s favorite attractions.  Both entertaining and educational, everyone will find something to enjoy and remember about their visit to this beloved landmark.  In this guide, we will give you all the tips and tricks for visiting the Mote Laboratory & Aquarium.


Address:  1600 Ken Thompson Parkway, Sarasota, FL 34236

Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium is located on City Island, just minutes from downtown Sarasota.  You can there by car or bus.  Parking is free.  Mote Marine is open from 9:30 am to 5 pm every day, 365 days a year.

Mote’s History:

The Mote Marine Laboratory has been one of Florida’s oldest marine research labs.  The facility began as a small one-room building in 1955 and was originally called the Cape Haze Marine Laboratory.  It was later renamed for William R. Mote, a major benefactor to the lab.  The laboratory has been located in Sarasota since 1960 and has been at City Island since 1978.  In 1980, the aquarium opened and quickly became a popular attraction with tourists and locals alike.

Currently, Mote has more than 200 staff members, including more than 30 Ph.D. scientists.  Mote conducts research on six continents, all coordinated from its headquarters in Sarasota.  The Mote Aquarium is a great place to visit, Mote’s research benefits all of us, as they attempt to expand and ultimately transform our understanding of the oceans that surround us.  Now, more than ever, we recognize that the oceans are the planet’s life-support system, providing oxygen, food, medicines, and enhanced quality of life for all of humanity.

Mote’s Exhibits:

Perhaps Mote’s most popular exhibit is the giant 135,000-gallon shark habitat featuring bonnetheads, sandbars, nurses, and black noses.  Visitors can watch shark feedings scheduled throughout the day.  Mote is exceptionally proud that they are the only center for shark research designated by the U.S. Congress.  Other inhabitants of the shark habitat include the goliath grouper and other Florida game fishes. 

Otters & Their Waters is another popular exhibit that features playful North American river otters.  Buffett, a charismatic manatee, is perhaps Mote’s favorite resident.  He is one of the only manatees in the world trained to participate in voluntary, detailed behavioral research designed to aid manatee conservation. 

Another favorite exhibit is entitled Sea Turtles: Ancient Survivors where you can get close to these magnificent creatures.  Other exhibits include Virtual Reality Experience, Megalodon Jaw & Fossil Creek, Exploration Gallery, and Creatures from the Coastal Oceans.

Mote also has a variety of touch pools where visitors can actually touch rays and other exotic marine animals.

Other Experiences at Mote:

For further and more in-depth educational experiences with Mote, they offer programs like Kayaking with Mote, EcoTours on the Mote Boat, and early morning, Breakfast with the Sharks that are available for extra fees.

Mote’s Deep Sea Diner:

A day at Mote Laboratory & Aquarium will work up a good appetite in its guests.  The Deep Sea Diner is a casual, retro diner with a 1950s vibe.  It offers affordable, family-style cuisine like burgers, salads, chicken sandwiches, grilled cheese, hot dogs, onion rings, and fries.

What to Expect at Mote:

Guests will want to wear comfortable shoes because there is a good amount of walking, but a day at Mote is not nearly as bad as walking around a large theme park.  Guests can walk at their own pace through the exhibits.  Visitors can spend as little as three hours or the majority of the day, depending on their level of interest.  Children will find it both interesting and educational, which is unusual for most attractions that only provide entertainment.

For more information, including times, ticket options, and daily live streams, visit https://mote.org/.

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