SARASOTA, Fla. — In an effort to protect the oceans for future generations, Mote Marine Laboratories and Aquarium is breaking ground at the site of its new Science Education Aquarium, or Mote SEA.
Mote SEA will be an iconic 110,000 square-foot aquarium located at Nathan Benderson Park right off of I-75, just south of UTC mall.
“Having this out here will be a huge benefit not just to the local communities, but to area schools, and people traveling to the state of Florida. It will be a destination that people want to come to," said Rep. Gregg Steube, (R) Congressman for District 17.
Mote supporters say the new location between Manatee and Sarasota counties will double the number of people who visit the aquarium currently located on Longboat Key.
"It will make our science education facilities much more accessible. Over three million residents will be able to get here quicker than our current campus," said Michael Crosby, Mote president and CEO.
Mote SEA will have interactive state-of-the-art STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) teaching labs and will offer free educational programs to more than 65,000 students from Sarasota and Manatee County schools.
Mote’s research has impacted corals, red tide, and marine life. Crosby says the purpose of the new facility is to people educate about the importance of our oceans.
"It's so incredibly important that we have a much more ocean literate public as a whole," said Crosby.
Crosby says the new aquarium will create 260 jobs. The projected economic impacts to Manatee and Sarasota counties include $280 million from construction alone and $28 million per year from operations.
“It’s a celebration not just for Mote, but for our entire community here," said Crosby.
Mote SEA is expected to open in 2023.