General FAQs

Where is Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium?

Our main campus is at 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway, Sarasota, FL 34236

Does Mote offer behind-the-scenes tours or animal encounters?

Mote offers some experiences that allow guests to have an insider's view of how we take care of our animals. To learn more, please visit our Experiences section. 
We also offer narrated training sessions with some of our animals, during which our aquarium biologists explain to visitors how we train our resident animals to keep them healthy. Narrated shark sessions take place at 11 a.m. each Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Depending on the needs of the animals, you might also have an opportunity to see narrated training sessions with our sea turtles (training schedules for these animals vary). These sessions are free with regular paid admission to The Aquarium

Does Mote offer guided tours of the Aquarium?

We have specially trained volunteer guides stationed throughout The Aquarium who are there to answer your questions about the animals in our care and about our organization. We offer several special Experiences but do not offer guided tours. Our volunteer guides have all undergone more than a dozen weeks of training so that they can answer your questions, and we encourage our visitors to engage with them for a truly interactive visit.

If I sign up for an education program, do I have to buy a ticket to The Aquarium as well?

In some cases, our education programs include admission to The Aquarium; in other cases our programs do not include a visit to The Aquarium. Please be sure to check the program-specific information provided.

Does Mote ever cancel programs? If so, why?

We occasionally must cancel programs due to low registration or because of adverse weather conditions.

How will I be notified if Mote cancels a program?

We try in all cases to notify participants of cancellations at least 24 hours before a program is scheduled to begin. However, weather conditions can suddenly become extreme and dangerous, making advance notification difficult. In all cases, we make every effort to contact you in advance.

If Mote cancels a program, will you refund my money?

Yes. If we must cancel your program for any reason, we will refund your money in full. We also offer you the opportunity to instead credit your payment to a future program.

What if I cannot attend a program that I've paid for? 

Cancellation Policy: There are no refunds for any Mote education programs unless we must cancel the program. If you must cancel your participation or change the number of students participating in a group visit and you do so more than five days in advance, we will hold your credit for payment on a future program. No-shows, changes or cancellations within five days of the program will be charged in full.

What credit cards do you accept?

Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover.

Can I reserve my space in an education program with a credit card, and then pay with a check, money order or cash on the program date?

Only for Mommy & Me classes. Please let us know at the time of your registration that you plan to do so.

Is there a lifeguard on duty for Mote's water-based programs?

Yes.

What medical services are available if my child is injured?

All education staff members are certified in CPR and first aid. The closest medical center is Sarasota Memorial Hospital, which is 11 minutes away.

I understand that you take pictures during your student programs so that we can see them later. Where do I find them, and how does Mote use them?

We post these pictures on a password-protected web site. You will receive the address and password at the conclusion of your program. Please email Gina Santoianni at gina@mote.org and include your name and the name and date of your program. 
Additionally, we occasionally share images with members of the media interested in covering our programs or in advertisements. Only images of children who have a signed waiver agreeing to this will be used.

Program-Specific FAQs: Field Trips

Who can sign up for field trips?

Field trips are open to all schools and groups, including Scouts, community organizations and large families. The minimum number of participants for a field trip program is 15 students.

Our group is larger than the maximum of 30 students — what should we do?

Mote will split groups with more than 30 students into multiple classes.

What is the field trip cancellation policy?

Mote retains a $50 cancellation fee but will refund the remainder of the field trip cost.

What is the field trip rainy day policy?

Field trips are conducted under most weather conditions. We will contact you if your field trip needs to be rescheduled due to weather.

What are the contents of the confirmation packet?

Your confirmation packet will contain your approved dates, a personalized schedule for your visit, an invoice and a field trip flier.

Where do we meet our instructor when we arrive at Mote?

At the main entrance to The Aquarium.

Where do buses park?

In the main Aquarium parking lot.

What are our lunch options?

Your group may bring their own lunches or order lunch in advance from our Deep Sea Diner. There is outside seating in the park next to The Aquarium.

Is there a fee for chaperones if we bring more than the recommended number?

Yes, extra chaperones are charged at the student rate.

Program-Specific FAQs: Home School Programs

May our whole family attend Home School Day?

Yes. Please be aware that each person in your party age 6 and older is considered a paying participant, and children 6 and younger will not receive activity materials.

I have kids who fall into different age/grade levels — how do we handle the Home School Day schedule?

We understand that your family would like to stay together during the day. Children outside an educational program's designated age/grade range are welcome to observe, but please be aware that we will not provide activity materials for them.

Do I need to pre-register for Home School Day?

Yes. Pre-registration and pre-payment are required.

What if the education program I want to participate in during Home School Day is full?

We limit space in our classes so that each student receives the maximum benefit. If there is interest, we try to add extra sections of classes to accommodate any overflow.

What are our lunch options on Home School Day?

You are welcome to bring a packed lunch or buy your lunch at the Deep Sea Diner. There are also nearby restaurants on City Island, where we are located. Ken Thompson Park has picnic tables.

Where do we park for Home School Day?

The Aquarium parking lot. Parking is free.

When do we need to arrive for Home School Day? Where do we go?

Check-in is from 9:30 a.m. - 10 a.m. on the 3rd floor of the Keating Marine Education Building, which is on the left side of the road before you reach the entrance to the main Aquarium parking lot on your right.

Program-Specific FAQs: Kayaking with Mote

Do I need my own kayak?

No. We provide all equipment, including kayak, paddle and life jacket. There is also a brief period of instruction for beginning paddlers as well.

Do I need to pre-register?

Yes. Pre-registration and pre-payment are required.

What Should I Wear?

Closed-toed, closed-heel water shoes, such as Crocs or SCUBA booties. Students will not be allowed in the water barefoot.
Light-weight, comfortable clothes. Your clothes may become wet or dirty.
A bathing suit if the weather is warm. A jacket if the weather is cool.
Hat and sunglasses for protection from the sun.

What Should I Not Wear?

Flip-flops.
Clothes that you would like to keep clean and dry.
Jewelry.

What Should I Bring?

A filled water bottle.
Sunscreen.
Towel.
Change of clothes, if necessary.
Plastic baggies or dry bag.

Program-Specific FAQs: Mommy & Me at Mote

Where and when does this class meet?

We meet at The Aquarium entrance at 9:50 a.m. and move to the classroom promptly at 10 a.m.

Is pre-registration required?

Yes.

I am registered for Mommy & Me at Mote with my preschooler, but also have a baby at home. May I bring my younger child along?

Yes. We welcome children ages 0-2 at no extra charge; however, we do not provide class materials for these children.

How many adults may attend with a child?

There is no limit — or extra charge — for additional adults.

What is the maximum size of this class?

15 students.

What age is this class designed for?

Mommy & Me classes are designed to address the educational needs and attention spans of children ages 2-5. We try to tier our activities so there is additional complexity for older children.

Can I sign up for all of the seasonal sessions at one time?

Yes, and doing so will save you 15-20% (depending on how many classes you register for).

Program-Specific FAQs: Summer Camp

The week I would like to register for is full — is there a waiting list?

Yes. To add your name to the list, please send an email to educate@mote.org. Include: your name, phone number and the dates you prefer. We will contact those on the waiting list on a first-come, first-served basis, should other campers cancel.

I have two children in the same camp — or my child is attending camp with a friend — can they be placed in the same group?

We try to honor these placement requests. Please note your request on your registration.

My child is a summer camp alumnus, but didn't receive an email with the early registration password. What do I do?

Most likely, we did not have your current email in our system. Please email educate@mote.org with your camper's name and the name and date of the camp they attended, and we will add you to our early registration email distribution list.

What is the student/instructor ratio of your camps?

Typically, it is eight students per instructor.

Are the summer program instructors background-checked?

Yes.

What is the drop-off, pick-up procedure?

Drop-off for Aquakids and Sea Sleuths begins at 8:15 a.m. Camp begins promptly at 8:30 a.m. Parents are asked to sign their child in and will provide a password. Pick-up is at 12:30 p.m. and parents will need to recite the password and sign their child out.
If the person who is dropping the child off is not the same person who is picking them up, then the drop-off parent may either tell the password to that person, or let Mote educators know who the pick-up parent is. Mote educators will then check the driver's license of the designated pick-up parent before they depart with the child.

The procedure is identical for the other summer programs, with differences in drop-off and pick-up times. Digi-Know How?: Drop-off begins at 12:45 p.m. and pick-up is at 5 p.m.
Florida Keys Camp: Drop-off begins at 7 a.m. on Monday morning. We depart at 7:30 a.m. Pick-up is at 6 p.m. on Friday evening.

What should my child bring and wear to summer camp?

Your confirmation packet will include a list of required items. They will include comfortable play clothes, sun protection (sunscreen, hat, sunglasses), comfortable walking shoes, closed-toed & closed-heeled water shoes for water exploration (no flip-flops allowed!) and a filled bottle of water. On some days, campers will need bathing suits, towels and snorkel gear. Children should not bring food to camp unless they have special dietary requirements. We will provide snacks.

Does my child need to know how to swim to participate in Mote's summer programs?

Swimming skills are required for all programs except Mommy & Me at Mote and Digi-Know How?

Who do I contact if I need to speak to my child during camp?

Am I allowed to stay with my children during summer camp?

No. Because we want to keep our camp atmosphere, parents/guardians are not permitted to stay.

More Questions?

If we haven't answered your question here, please feel free to contact us by phone at (941) 388-4441, ext. 348 or by email at educate@mote.org