Monday January 14, 2019
After lunch, we went to The MOTE Marine Laboratory & Aquarium. The MOTE isn’t far from where we ate lunch. See Sarasota Cars and Boats blog post.
The MOTE is in two buildings separated by a short 10 minute walk.
Parking is closest to the main MOTE building, the MOTE Marine Laboratory & Aquarium. Both locations accept entrance fees.
Inside the MOTE, large well lit tanks showcase different sea life.
The display tanks are situated and lit to emotionally bond viewer and viewed.
Reef and reef ecology are a recurring theme.
Sea anemones and coral are both commonly found in reef ecosystems.
The Lionfish is a voracious eater and is responsible for decimating native fish specie populations. Non-native invasive species such as the lionfish are a danger to the local ecology.
This was not the first time I had seen jellyfish displayed with this sort of lighting. When scuba divers encounter jellyfish in the water, the internal jellyfish structure and anatomy are rarely this clearly seen.
These colorful prawns are climbing around the bottom of the rock. The prawns are upside-down.
With enough formaldehyde, one can preserve just about anything. The centerpiece of the black giant squid display is a preserved giant squid interred an a large black glass topped case. Seeing the pale dead giant squid is enough to put diners off squid for years.
The MOTE had a number of seahorse displays. Amazing and surprising seahorse variety. Some are large, some small. Some long and skinny like a twigs and others are short and fat. Some are colorful and some are not.
After first seeing this fish, I thought “That’s a fish?” This is an ambush fish. It hangs out, not moving much. When prey happen by, it pounces. Fish victims must get close because they don’t think this looks much like a fish either.
Looking in the shark tank, I saw Linda and her sister on the other side looking at the same shark.
Some stingray species are endangered. Stingrays are related to sharks. Kind of like a flounder version of a shark only much more graceful with better placed eyes.
Mid afternoon, looking at the different creatures became thirsty work. After stumbling into an on-site fifties style burger joint to buy water, we all switched to wanting a milkshake instead. Normal everyday bottled water was $3.50 and milkshakes were only $3.00. Tough decision.
The milkshakes were handmade from real ingredients. I watched waitstaff scoop out ice cream, pour in milk and add chocolate (or whatever the others were having). The milkshake was served in a paper cup. A balsa spoon and thick paper straw were provided as well. From the materials used for the milkshake, I guess that the MOTE wants to discourage the use of plastics and encourage the use of biodegradable sustainable materials. All done by a subtle pricing model. How very not preachy.
There is way too much plastic floating in the oceans harming sea life. Good for you MOTE folks!
We took our milkshakes outside to savor and discovered a nice outside dining area and stairs up to the top of the giant shark tank.
Looking at sharks from above gives a different perspective on how sharks swim and act around other fish.
After a short ten minute walk, we arrived at the other MOTE building, the Marine Mammal Center. First thing to notice is the Marine Mammal Center has more than mammals. Turtles, alligators, crocodiles and possibly more are included.
The MOTE’s mission includes rescuing and rehabilitating sick, injured or stranded marine mammals and sea turtles. This sea turtle is a now permanent resident as a result of an accident that destroyed her eyes. She is unable to survive in the wild as a blind sea turtle.
The manatee’s disability isn’t clear. Regardless of disability, seeing a manatee in the water from the side provides a much clearer view than can be gained by looking at manatees from the shore. See previous blog post Fort Myers Florida – Manatee Park.
The romping sea otter’s disability wasn’t clear either. One of three sea otters, there is a land portion and a sea portion of their (hopefully) temporary habitat. They are fun to watch in the water from the side. Unfortunately, they move so fast underwater that getting decent pictures with mobile phones is difficult at best.
Next to the otters were the crocodiles and alligators. I asked a MOTE employee why the crocodiles and alligators don’t eat up all the fish. His smirking response, “Because they are WELL fed.”
I hope to never meet a hungry lurking crocodile in the wild like this.
The MOTE employee also told me how to tell the difference between a crocodile and Alligator. It is all in the snout. Alligators have rounded wide tennis shoe snouts. When an alligator’s mouth is closed, their teeth can’t be seen. Crocodiles, on the other hand, have pointed bumpy narrow snouts and when their mouths are closed, their skanky teeth are showing.
For some reason, the light was bad in the above picture. Standing their above the two animals, their different snout shapes were totally obvious.
In summary, the MOTE is a good marine aquarium compared to others I’ve been to. It is missing dolphins, orcas (killer whales) and the like. I enjoy dolphin shows but some people believe they are inherently exploitative. Perhaps they are but I still like them. When in the area again, I expect to return. I like this aquarium.
Hope to see you on the road ahead.