Mote Science Education Aquarium’s (Mote SEA) construction continues to ramp up in 2024, including progress on the three STEM Teaching Laboratories, which will ensure that every child has the opportunity for hands-on marine science and technology experiences.

Mote SEA will embody Mote’s 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 schools to utilize specialized STEM teaching labs to ensure that every child has hands-on marine science and technology experiential learning opportunities.

Mote SEA will provide unparalleled informal science education to a larger, more diverse audience by providing 70,000 students from Sarasota and Manatee county schools hands-on, marine science education – free of charge.

“The rebirth of Mote’s public aquarium as a Science Education Aquarium on the mainland will significantly amplify our ability to provide science education and enhanced levels of ocean literacy to a much larger and more diverse population throughout Florida and from around the world,” said Dr. Crosby, Mote President & CEO. “Mote SEA will be a highly visible gateway to our community that will ensure ‘Oceans for All’ for our teachers, our children, and the next generation of leaders in marine science and technology.”

Strategically collaborating with schools and community groups where needs are the greatest, Mote will continue to educate children who might not otherwise have access to aquariums and marine science education.

Mote SEA will feature 110,000 sq ft and one million gallons of informal marine science education space including fascinating underwater exhibits and interactive teaching labs. From pre-K children to retired adults, from family-focused education programs to National Science Foundation-supported research internships and teacher professional development workshops, Mote SEA will tailor marine science education for myriad audiences at every stage of life.

Most importantly, Mote SEA will provide critical experiential science, technology, engineering and math education in its three K-12 STEM teaching labs to 70,000 students from Sarasota and Manatee County schools, and family day passes to 24,000 Title 1 schools each year, free of charge.

“Collaborating with local counties, like Sarasota and Manatee, is not just about creating curricula, it’s about crafting meaningful experiences that resonate with students, increase their scientific literacy, and ignite their curiosity,” said Aly Busse, Mote’s Associate Vice President for Education. “By working closely with these counties, we ensure that the Mote SEA STEM Teaching Labs offer an education that provides students with the best possible foundation for understanding and conserving the marine ecosystems in their own backyards.”

Interactive teaching labs will be accessible to all schools in the region, including no-cost opportunities, so that each child has the chance to discover marine science and technology, first-hand. Strategically collaborating with schools and community groups where needs are greatest, Mote will continue to educate students who might not otherwise have access to aquariums and marine science education.
Students will dive into marine STEM in three teaching labs on the first floor of Mote SEA:

The Ocean Technology Lab will be equipped with a range of specialized tools and equipment, empowering students to construct, refine, and test their own autonomous underwater vehicles, develop sensors, and engage in various marine engineering activities.
The Marine Ecology Lab will feature animal habitats, live animal ambassadors and displays showcasing areas of Mote research  that will help students explore themes such as connected ecosystems and water quality.
The Biomedical/Immunology Lab will allow students to use tools such as digital microscopes and explore topics like finding new medicinal compounds from the ocean and using DNA to investigate conservation-related questions, such as the paternity of sea turtle hatchlings.

Mote SEA won’t just deepen students’ education—it will also help bridge gaps between education and careers through four Workforce Development Labs on the second and third floors: the Aquaculture and Fisheries Lab, Conservation Lab, Coral Lab and Veterinary Clinic & Diagnostic Center.

In these labs, interns and program participants including high schoolers, undergraduate and graduate students will gain technical skills, hands-on research experience, and career-building networking opportunities by working alongside Mote scientist mentors on their ongoing projects.

Perhaps most exciting is the anticipated opening of the facility, which remains on schedule for early 2025, when Mote will realize its vision for offering a window of discovery into the globally-significant marine science research conducted by Mote scientists across every ocean in the world.

How can the public learn more, and see Mote SEA for themselves?

Everyone is invited to dive into the excitement as Mote makes waves at Nathan Benderson Park. Your chance to get a sneak peek  of the new Mote Science Education Aquarium (SEA) before it opens is NOW! Don’t miss out! Mote SEA is swiftly taking shape and is on its way to becoming a part of the University Town Center (UTC) community. Curious about Mote SEA’s progress? Join us for the SEAsonal Tasting event on April 17! Hosted at the Nathan Benderson Finishing Tower, this exclusive affair offers guests a panoramic view of Mote SEA’s development, delicious tastings from esteemed UTC restaurants, and an opportunity to meet the experts behind Mote SEA!

Event details:

What: A variety of small tastings and complimentary wine and beer
Where: Nathan Benderson’s Finishing Tower
When: April 17, 6pm
Why: All proceeds support Mote SEA
Who: Participating restaurants include The Breakfast Company, The Capital Grille (Sarasota), Georgie’s UTC Restaurant & Bar, Louis Pappas Fresh Greek, Rusty Bucket Restaurant and Tavern, Mademoiselle Paris, Five-O Donut Co UTC, Seasons 52, Tandoor Fine Indian Cuisine, Rocco’s Tacos and Tequila Bar – Sarasota, Jpan Sushi & Grill, PopStroke, Kona Grill UTC, and Oak and Stone
How: Secure your tickets online at

Don’t miss out on this unforgettable experience! We can’t wait to SEA you there!

Mote SEA construction updates:
As we entered 2024, and shortly after the expansive acrylic panels for the Gulf of Mexico habitat, the largest habitat at Mote SEA, were installed in December 2023, the construction team began to install the remaining large-scale acrylic panels for the balance of the main habitats throughout Mote SEA. Recently, all exhibit acrylic panels were installed and beginning in March, 2024, teams began to fill the habitats with water to test for any potential leaks. Water testing will continue for the next several weeks.

In addition, stairways to the second and third floors were completed, and a complex network of plumbing and life support systems, necessary to breathe life into the one million gallons of habitat throughout the facility, were recently completed.

Heading into April, the final concrete pour will be completed inside the building, and most notably from the exterior, insulation panels will begin to be installed, shortly followed by the final exterior or “skin” panels. In the next several months, Mote SEA, at least from the outside, will look almost complete.

It is anticipated that the certificate of occupancy (C.O.)—a formal approval from Sarasota County certifying that Mote SEA meets all required construction requirements and is safe for occupation—will be applied for in late summer 2024. Once the C.O. is issued, Mote Aquarium biologists can undertake Mote’s thorough transport and acclimation process for the wide array of animals that will ultimately call Mote SEA home, as well as start to work on the interior look and feel to create an unforgettable experience, as well as work on exhibit installation to ensure every exhibit provides guests with a fun, but educational and science-driven experience.

Be part of the next wave: Make a direct donation to Mote by visiting and selecting “Donations.”

Fast Facts:

Mote has reached more than $107 million toward its $130 million goal
Mote SEA is anticipated to open in Winter 2024
Mote SEA will grow Mote’s public Aquarium space from 66,000 to 110,000 square feet. and from approximately 400,000 gallons of seawater exhibits to close to 1 million gallons.
Initial attendance will likely be near 700,000 in its opening year—double the current attendance of Mote Aquarium on City Island — and this facility will be built to accommodate over 1 million visitors per year.
Mote SEA will provide approximately $28 million annually in economic benefits for the State of Florida.



About Mote: Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium has a nearly 70-year legacy as an independent, nonprofit, 501(c)3 global marine research and science education institution. Mote began in 1955 and flourished on the foundational pillars of “Passion, Partnership and Philanthropy” –  the passion of a single researcher, Dr. Eugenie Clark, her partnership with the community and philanthropic support, first of the Vanderbilt family, later with the significant support and guidance of the William R. Mote family, and today through donations by thousands of individuals who believe in the mission of Mote.

Today, Mote has grown into eight campuses stretching from Tampa Bay  to Key West, with a ninth new campus, the Mote Science Education Aquarium (Mote SEA), currently under construction. Mote has more than 25 diverse world-class research programs studying oceans locally and internationally, with an emphasis on positively impacting conservation and sustainable use of marine resources. The current Mote Aquarium in Sarasota showcases Mote Research and is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5 pm, 365 days a year. Learn more at
Contact Us:
Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium, 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway, Sarasota, Fla., 34236. 941.388.4441

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