Mote Marine Lab is to build a new aquarium in Sarasota County, Florida featuring more than 10,000sqm of space and over 4.5 million litres of exhibit water.
The Mote Science Education Aquarium will be funded by Mote’s new $130m capital construction fundraising campaign. It is hoped construction will begin in 2019, depending on fundraising progress, with a planned opening in 2021. More than 20% of the facility’s total cost has already been raised.
The new facility will be more than double the size of the existing Mote Aquarium on City Island. It will allow the organisation to expand its range of marine animals and scientific displays from around the world.
Mote is planning to have exhibits not available anywhere else, including dive exhibits where visitors get to climb into the tanks. The organisation is expecting the aquarium to host 700,000 visitors in its first year open.
Dr Michael Crosby, CEO of Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium, said: “At Mote Science Education Aquarium, science is the attraction, as it is the heart of our mission.
“This spectacular new facility and campus will embody our vision of Oceans for All, doubling the number of visitors whose lives are enriched by marine science each year, and providing no-cost opportunities for all schools to utilise specialized teaching labs to ensure that every child has the opportunity for hands-on marine science and technology experiences.”
The new aquarium is expected to double participation in Mote’s science education programs which cater to all ages. The organisation’s current programs serve more than 30,000 people per year.
Construction of the aquarium is expected to benefit Florida’s economy through $280m in direct and indirect expenditures. Mote believes it will support more than 260 direct and indirect jobs and provide approximately $28m annually in economic benefits for the state.
Robert Essner, chairman of Mote’s board of trustees, said: “We are now taking the next and biggest step in becoming a truly world-class marine research laboratory. Relocating our aquarium will give us the space needed to expand and upgrade our research labs.
“Our new aquarium, when completed, will be a spectacular venue for our educational endeavours and will create an incredible regional visitor attraction.”
Images: c. Mote Marine Lab.