Photo above: A digital rendering of the new research and education facility Mote Marine Laboratory plans to construct on Summerland Key, Fla.
Philanthropic donations for Mote Marine Laboratory’s new research and education facility in the Florida Keys have surpassed the $1.5 million mark with help from a new gift: a $325,000 donation from the Charles and Margery Barancik Foundation. Barancik Foundation representatives said they value the work Mote is doing at its existing property on Summerland Key, Fla., where the new facility will be built.
“We are pleased to help Mote Marine Laboratory — a champion of the oceans — take this major step to enhance their marine research, restoration and education efforts,” said Teri A Hansen, President & CEO of the Barancik Foundation, a private family foundation based in Sarasota, Fla. “It is exciting that our gift will help launch the construction of this new facility, which will benefit scientists, students, the State of Florida and the oceans. We firmly believe that philanthropy can change our world, and we encourage others to support Mote’s efforts.”
The Barancik Foundation gift helped Mote to reach a major fundraising milestone that will allow the Lab to start the construction process during January 2016. The new building will more than double Mote’s research and education space in the Keys, allowing the Lab to expand programs focused on studying and restoring damaged coral reefs and on finding new ways to address global threats to reefs — particularly climate change and ocean acidification. The building will be LEED-certified, environmentally sustainable and perfectly suited to enhance Mote’s impact locally to internationally. The current facility plays a key role in global coral reef studies while hosting and supporting the work of approximately 150 scientists from over 60 different U.S. and international institutions, in addition to many of Mote’s 35 Ph.D. level researchers.
“This new research facility will significantly enhance Mote’s ability to serve as an international center of excellence in marine science, education and conservation — with a primary focus on addressing the global threats facing coral reefs,” said Mote President & CEO Dr. Michael P. Crosby. “Florida has the only barrier coral reef along the continental U.S., which helps attract millions of visitors, contributes about $6.3 billion to our state economy alone, and provides essential habitats for fisheries and threatened species. We also depend on our marine ecosystems for food, medicine, tourism, culture, art and quality of life. This new facility will focus on better understanding the impacts of disease and climate change on corals, and also countering and mitigating these threats by directly supporting innovative work to restore Florida’s coral reefs.”
Today, researchers at Mote’s Summerland Key facility are growing thousands of coral fragments in nurseries and planting them onto depleted reefs in the wild, using naturally occurring genetic strains that are believed most likely to survive changing ocean conditions. Mote scientists developed a breakthrough coral “re-skinning” process to restore large areas of reef-building corals in just one-to-two years instead of the centuries it might take for natural reef recovery. This cutting-edge, re-skinning technology allows small fragments of brain, boulder and star corals to rapidly fuse and restore a living coral head over a dead coral skeleton.
Scientists transplant corals at Mote's restoration site off Big Pine Key. (Credit: Mote Marine Laboratory)
“These techniques give us confidence that full-scale restoration is possible in our lifetime,” said Dr. Dave Vaughan, Executive Director of Mote’s research facility in the Florida Keys. “Sadly, during the last 40 years, our indigenous corals have declined in some areas by more than 90 percent, with some species losing more than 97 percent of their populations. Now, more than ever, we need new facilities to continue our research. Our reefs cannot wait any longer, and when this new research facility on Summerland Key opens, Mote will have an even greater impact on proactively understanding the threats faced by coral reefs and how to replenish them significantly faster than they can replenish themselves in the wild.”
The new facility — being designed by Hall Architects and built by Willis A. Smith Construction, Inc., with significant engagement of local businesses in Monroe
County — will include advanced technology laboratories; environmental control rooms; new seawater systems; ocean acidification research support infrastructure; experimental tanks and instrumentation to support diverse fields of marine science studies; and dormitories, offices, classrooms and meeting rooms with full communications connectivity.
In late January 2016, two residential and office buildings on Mote’s Summerland property will be demolished, leaving the current science building and working lab fully operational throughout construction. Construction will ramp up during summer 2016, with the goal of opening the facility in early 2017. Once the new project is complete and fully operational, the old lab building will be demolished.
Building this enhanced facility is one of three major goals in Oceans of Opportunity: The Campaign for Mote Marine Laboratory — the ongoing, comprehensive fundraising campaign announced in early 2015. The campaign is also designed to support and expand Mote’s annual research and education operations while spurring long-term growth in the endowment for Mote’s future.
“The Barancik Foundation recognizes how much our oceans and our communities in Florida and throughout the world need innovative science and education — need Mote,” said Hansen. “We also know that, as a nonprofit with international impact, Mote needs us. We’re pleased that this gift brings attention to Oceans of Opportunity and Mote’s excellent work.”
“We are extremely grateful for the Barancik Foundation’s contribution,” Crosby said. “We know that this will help stimulate even more community engagement as we approach the finish line of the Oceans of Opportunity, especially in the Florida Keys, where this amazing new coral reef research and education facility will be constructed.”
To support Oceans of Opportunity, visit www.mote.org/oceanscampaign or contact Erin Knievel at 941-388-4441, ext. 415 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Charles and Margery Barancik Foundation
The Charles & Margery Barancik family has long believed in the power of philanthropy to shape our world and enrich the lives of all people. It was the expression of this belief that led them in 2014 to establish the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation — a private, family foundation located in Sarasota, Fla. The Barancik Foundation creates initiatives and awards grants in Sarasota and beyond in the areas of arts and humanities, education and science, humanitarian causes, medical research and the environment. For further information, please contact Kelly Romanoff at email@example.com at 941-343-2912.
About Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium
Founded in 1955, Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium is celebrating its 60th year as an independent, nonprofit 501(c)3 research organization. Mote’s beginnings date back six decades to the passion of a single researcher, Dr. Eugenie Clark, her partnership with the community and philanthropic support, first of the Vanderbilt family and later of the William R. Mote family.
Today, Mote is based in Sarasota, Fla. with field stations in eastern Sarasota County and the Florida Keys and Mote scientists conduct research on the oceans surrounding all seven of the Earth’s continents.
Mote’s 25 research programs are dedicated to today’s research for tomorrow’s oceans, with an emphasis on world-class research relevant to the conservation and sustainability of our marine resources. Mote’s vision also includes positively impacting public policy through science-based outreach and education. Showcasing this research is Mote Aquarium, open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 365 days a year. Learn more at mote.org.
Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium, 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway, Sarasota, Fla., 34236. 941.388.4441
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