Founded by famed marine scientist Eugenie Clark in 1955 to study sharks, the Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium in Sarasota has broadened its scope to a range of marine life. At the heart of the facility is an aquarium with more than 100 species of marine life and a massive 130,000-gallon (490,000-liter) shark habitat.
Experiences at the Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium extend far beyond admission to the aquarium (which does include several presentations each day). The institution leads kayaking trips, eco-boat tours, and interpretive bay walks. Plus, behind-the-scenes programs allow visitors to take part in animal care alongside an aquarium biologist, peek inside the seahorse breeding program, have breakfast with the sharks, or join a research charter to be a citizen scientist for the day.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium is a must-visit for families and animal lovers.
- Leave yourself a minimum of two hours to explore the exhibits.
- The aquarium facilities are wheelchair accessible, and manual wheelchairs are available for use free of charge.
How to Get There
The aquarium is located a few minutes outside of downtown Sarasota on City Island. If you’re driving, take Gulfstream Avenue across the Ringling Causeway to St. Armands Circle. Free parking is located just off Ken Thompson Parkway to the right.
When to Get There
The aquarium is open daily throughout the year, including all holidays. All exhibits are either indoors or covered, making this a great option for a rainy day in Florida.
Mote Animal Hospitals
The Sarasota facilities also include two animal hospitals, one for rehabilitating dolphins and whales while also studying why they beach themselves, and the other for sick and injured sea turtles. More than 560 turtles have been patients at Mote since 1995.