Mote Marine Laboratory celebrated the opening of its Marine Science Education & Outreach Center on May 5 at the Anna Maria City Pier, making this Mote’s 8th operational campus.

Mote President & CEO Dr. Michael P. Crosby was joined by Evan Barniskis, Associate Vice President for Mote Aquarium, Dan Murphy, Mayor of the City of Anna Maria, and Kevin Van Ostenbridge, Chairman of the Manatee County Board of County Commissioners, at the ribbon-cutting event.

“This new location is a great educational and entertaining experience for the Anna Maria Island community,” said Barniskis. “Visitors to the pier are going to learn about the marine environment and the research that Mote scientists conduct every day.”

The concept for the Center grew from Mote’s deep roots in the Anna Maria community, which was a location beloved by Mote’s namesake, Mr. Bill Mote. The Center is one of many expansions to fulfill a key part of Mote’s mission: Translate and transfer marine science as a public service to increase ocean literacy.

“We know that one of the best ways to increase ocean literacy in ways that positively impact human society and the marine environment is to bring people as close as possible to that environment,” said Dr. Crosby. “At our Marine Science Education & Outreach Center, visitors will overlook Tampa Bay, have an underwater view of everything happening below the pier and engage with Mote educators and volunteers to learn about this critical coastal habitat.”

The focal point of the Center will be an interactive touch pool exhibit where guests will literally reach into the water and get in touch with local marine life. A “Draw Alive” station will bring guests’ drawings to life, and a multi-station microscope will bring out their inner scientists. Guests will leave with a new appreciation of mangroves, seagrass beds and the living world directly beneath the City Pier.

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