*Disclosure – Crystal Carder was provided free tickets in exchange for posting this review. All opinions are my own.
My children love learning about the ocean and sea creatures, so this year when my family planned our vacation to Sarasota, Florida, we knew we had to do something to learn more about the ocean and that’s how we found ourselves at Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium.
The Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium is much more than just an aquarium. In fact, travelers have loved it so much that TripAdvisor has named it Top 10 Best U.S. Aquariums, clinching the number five spot – up from the 10th spot last year! On top of that big honor, they have also named Mote the 15th BEST Aquarium in the ENTIRE world!
Mote Marine Lab and Aquarium was founded in 1955 by Dr. Eugenie Clark and, at the time, she never knew Mote Marine Lab and Aquarium would become an international powerhouse of scientific progress and educate millions about the marine world.
Today, Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium has over 35 Ph.D. scientist in its staff of over 200. Every day these scientists work hard to conduct world-class research to enhance our understanding of the oceans. The Mote Marine Laboratory is currently working to identify new cancers in coral reefs, the impacts of climate change and oil spills, and to develop new technology to aid in the observing of the ocean.
Since my family has barely been around the ocean, we were so excited to visit the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium.
Almost immediately when you walk into the Mote Aquarium, you are placed into a dark lite room where displays of sea creatures glow brightly with color.
As soon as my children realized what we were seeing, they went crazy with excitement and tried to experience all the animals in record time.
One of their favorite displays was the octopus display which was almost the first animal on display inside the aquarium. This octopus is said to be shy at times, but he was proudly showing off his tentacles when we arrived and it was amazing to watch him swim in his own habitat.
Another animal that my children fell in love with was these silly looking fish (in the picture below). These fish were so silly looking that my children almost thought they were fake.
My favorite fish, though, was this one – isn’t it a beauty?
Besides all the amazing sea creatures, Mote Marine Aquarium is a wonderful place to learn because almost ALL of their exhibits offer some type of learning; either hands-on or an informative sign. Plus, almost each booth is supervised by a Mote’s volunteer worker who is excited to teach your family even more. In fact, when my family got to the dwarf seahorse exhibit, my family almost didn’t notice any seahorses, until a Mote’s volunteer came over and pointed them out and told us some more about them.
Besides using all the normal means of education, Motes takes it a step further and actually allows visitors to pet a real live stingray and other sea creatures. While my children and I completely wimped out and didn’t touch the stingray, my husband and father did – the stingray didn’t even seem to mind it!
While there was certainly so many ocean animals to see, the best part of the aquarium came only after walking across the street to the Manatee and Sea Turtle exhibits.
Though, there were only two manatees, this was my first time ever seeing one of the big guys and I loved them! These guys swam with a sea turtle named Harry and they looked like the best of friends.
After spending hours at the Mote Marine Lab and Aquarium, my children couldn’t stop talking about all the amazing things we saw and they even learned a few things.
While my family didn’t try it, the Mote Marine Lab is also home to guided boat tours which take you out in the ocean. If you would like to learn more about the Mote Marine Lab, be a social butterfly and check them out on their social sites listed (in the picture) below.