Mote celebrates five years of outreach in Boca Grande

More than 70 people, including former First Lady Laura Bush, Mote Marine Laboratory scientists and other ocean enthusiasts, gathered on Jan. 9 under a star-filled sky to celebrate the fifth anniversary of Mote’s Boca Grande Outreach office — a regional hub of marine science outreach and education.

The family-friendly event — free to the public thanks to generous event sponsor Northern Trust — included  interactive science and education booths for kids,  hors d’oeuvres and cocktails for adults, and plenty of opportunities to chat with local scientists whose knowledge is shared through the Mote office at 480 Railroad Ave., Boca Grande.

“Northern Trust is proud to support Mote and the important work that is being done to sustain our way of life,” said Paul Hudson, Market Leader for Northern Trust in Sarasota and Manatee Counties. “It is through Mote’s work here locally and globally that we will impact our future.”

Mote’s Boca Grande Outreach Office was designed to be a focal point and resource where residents and visitors can learn more about Mote’s research efforts — particularly with locally significant topics such as fisheries and red tide. In early 2017, an anonymous challenge donation of $100,000 was made to support Mote scientists’ efforts to expand their red tide-related research and outreach efforts in Boca Grande. During last night’s event, it was announced that residents had matched $81,000 and the challenge was extended through the end of March 2018 to raise the remaining amount.

“This event was truly a community celebration and a great example of why this outreach office was created,” said Stacy Alexander, Mote’s Community Relations & Communications Assistant Vice President. “It is always exciting to see attendees being able to have hands on opportunities and one-on-one conversations with scientists.”

The Mote Boca-Grande Partnership

Dr. Eugenie Clark, founding director of the research institution that is today Mote Marine Laboratory, opened the doors of the Cape Haze Marine Lab — as it was known back then — in 1955.

Since then, Mote has been dedicated to understanding and preserving the oceans and sustaining their wildlife and natural resources. Mote scientists are known worldwide for their achievements in marine research — research that is helping preserve ocean resources for future generations.

Mote got its start along Charlotte Harbor — one of the deepest natural inlets in Florida, the center of tarpon reproduction and a waystation for the tarpon that make up this famous fishery.

Mote, with its current home base in Sarasota, renewed its commitment to its historical home in 2013 through the Boca Grande Outreach Office, with the goal of reinvigorating its partnership with the community to conserve and protect this famous estuary. Mote believes that strong science-based conservation programs will play a critical role in preventing further decline in the Harbor’s health and in sustaining and restoring historical fish populations.