Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium [email protected]: New Researchers Join Mote; Sarasota Magazine’s Volunteer of the Year Helps Marine Life; Electric Car Event Saturday at Mote

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Mote Announces New Postdoctoral Researchers

Mote Marine Laboratory is proud to announce the arrival of Dr. Andrea M. Larsen and Dr. Emily Smith — two outstanding additions to the world-class marine science and public outreach efforts central to Mote’s guiding blueprint, the 2020 Vision and Strategic Plan. (Read the Plan at
Dr. Andrea M. Larsen was awarded a Mote Postdoctoral Research Fellowship to study the relationship between fish and bacteria — a key topic for understanding fish health in the wild and in seafood farming.
Mote Postdoctoral Research Fellowships support postdoctoral scientists conducting outstanding work early in their careers. These fellowships are a central part of Mote’s mission to foster the next generation of leading marine scientists. (Learn more here.)

Larsen earned her doctorate in Fisheries, Aquaculture and Aquatic Sciences from Auburn University in Alabama and completed an exciting 2013 study that helped shape her research focus. Her results suggested that the types of bacteria found on fish may depend more on fish species than location. For example, fish of the same species in Alabama and Mississippi were closer matches for their bacteria than fish of different species within the same state.

At Mote, Larsen aims to further study bacteria associated with fish and their potential roles in the function of the fish immune system. This research will support the search for probiotics (beneficial bacteria) that specifically boost health for particular fish species raised in aquaculture, or seafood farming — a fast-growing source of food around the globe.

“Many people associate bacteria with disease because that’s what we’re taught as children, but current research is revealing new ways bacteria are helpful or even necessary for good health — and I see exciting potential for expanding this knowledge looking at fish,” Larsen said. “When I heard I would have the opportunity to perform this research as a Mote Postdoctoral Fellow, my heart jumped.”

Larsen has presented her work at multiple scientific and professional meetings, including the annual meetings of the American Society for Microbiology, and she has a strong focus on forging collaborations with scientists and professionals in multiple disciplines.

Dr. Emily Smith, research associate for Mote’s Environmental Health Program, will apply her expertise in marine science and education to improve public information about Florida red tide.
Florida red tide is a type of harmful algal bloom that impacts the health and economies of coastal communities around the Gulf.

Smith, who holds bachelor’s degrees in Marine Biology and Biology Education, along with a master’s degree in Education, taught science to middle schoolers and later earned her doctorate in Oceanography from Louisiana State University (LSU) with a research dissertation on harmful algal blooms. At LSU, Smith was the President and Social Chair of the Coast and Environment Graduate Organization, President of the Graduate Student Association and a Graduate School Senator in LSU Student Government. She received LSU’s Graduate Student Leader of the Year in 2013.

At Mote, Smith will advance the crucial public outreach of Mote’s Environmental Health Program — including Mote’s Beach Conditions Report, which provides daily updates on red tide conditions at multiple Florida beaches. In early 2015, Smith will complete her work at Mote, help appoint the long-term leader for the Lab’s Environmental Health Program and begin a prestigious Sea Grant John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in Washington, D.C.

Smith stepped in to chart the future course for Mote’s Environmental Health Program after its long-time manager, Dr. Barbara Kirkpatrick, accepted a position as Executive Director of the Gulf Coast Ocean Observing System (GCOOS). GCOOS is a nonprofit with members around the Gulf, including Mote, that is dedicated to building a sustained ocean observing system to provide vital data related on climate, red tide, human health and numerous other factors. (Read a press release about Kirkpatrick’s new role:

Mote scientists have studied Florida red tide for decades to understand how these blooms of the harmful algae Karenia brevis develop and affect animals and people — particularly those with respiratory ailments who are sensitive to red tide toxins. During Kirkpatrick’s successful leadership, Mote’s Environmental Health Program and its partners broke new ground in their field, in particular through a decade-long study funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences that led to hundreds of new findings and even potential new drug treatments for cystic fibrosis and COPD sufferers.

“I am excited to move forward with this great program, which has done so much to reveal the interactions between red tide and people,” Smith said. “I believe that we, as scientists, must be skilled communicators to support public health and safety during naturally occurring challenges like Florida red tide. In fact, one of the best ways to mitigate red tide impacts is to provide real-time monitoring information and education to communities. That mission means a great deal to me.”

Nigel Mould Declared Sarasota Magazine’s Volunteer of the Year

Nigel Mould was recently declared Volunteer of the Year in Sarasota Magazine’s annual Guide to Giving for his dedication to the Sarasota Dolphin Research Program (SDRP) and Mote Marine Laboratory.

Mould volunteers about 300 hours per year with SDRP, a collaboration between Mote and Chicago Zoological Society that is the world’s longest-running study of a wild dolphin population. He volunteers another 500 hours each year with Mote, an internationally recognized, nonprofit marine science and education institution.

With SDRP, Mould helps with dolphin rescues, health-related research and population monitoring, along with prey-fish surveys. At Mote, Mould has volunteered in animal care, guided visitors in Mote Aquarium, provided outreach through Mote’s Speakers Bureau and helped with special exhibits.

Mould served as Mote’s Volunteer Board President from 2010 to 2012, and he is now a Mote Trustee and Chair of Mote’s Development Committee.

Mould is also a supporter of sustainable technology and practices, including electric vehicles and solar energy. He is co-leading the Sept. 20 event Electrify the Island at Mote.

(Photo credit: Mark Farmwald)

National Drive Electric Week to “Electrify the Island” at Mote

SATURDAY: Free event with electric vehicles, sustainable technology,
Mote discount

Electric vehicles and other eco-friendly technologies will show their power during “Electrify the Island”: the Sarasota-based festival for the nationwide celebration National Drive Electric Week.

This free event will take place from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Saturday Sept. 20, on the grounds of Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium on City Island, Sarasota.

Mote is a world-class marine science and education institution that launched a Sustainable Energy Initiative in 2012 to enhance the Lab’s environmentally sound practices.

Electrify the Island will feature a plug-in electric vehicle (EV) expo, ride-and-drive sessions that allow visitors to test some of the sleekest EVs around, including cars from Gettel Nissan, Sunset Chevrolet and Tesla, along with vendors focused on sustainability and energy efficiency, educational booths, great food and a special discount at Mote Aquarium (below). Electric vehicle experts and owners will be on hand to showcase the latest in EV technology and help share the benefits of driving electric.

Florida Power & Light Company (FPL), partner in Electrify the Island and multiple Drive Electric Week events in Florida, will present its “Electric Avenue,” where attendees can enjoy a photo op with the hybrid-electric Porsche Panamera and other activities. Electric vehicle owners can also visit FPL’s special hospitality tent where they can participate in exclusive contests and more. FPL is committed to serve as a trusted source of information on electric vehicles for its customers. (

Red Tide Reminder

A bloom of Florida red tide algae (Karenia brevis) remains offshore of Florida’s Gulf Coast as of today, Sept. 16.

A Sept. 15 update from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), supported by data from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), Mote Marine Laboratory and others said:

  • Karenia brevis (commonly known as Florida red tide) ranges from not present to background concentrations along the coast of southwest Florida from Manatee to Monroe County and is not present in the Florida Keys. No respiratory irritation is expected alongshore from Manatee to Monroe County through Thursday, Sept.18.

    Not present to medium concentrations of K. brevis are present along- and offshore portions of the coast from Dixie to Pinellas counties. K. brevis concentrations are patchy in nature and levels of respiratory irritation will vary locally based upon nearby bloom concentrations, ocean currents and wind speed and direction. The highest level of potential respiratory irritation forecast for alongshore Levy County Monday, Sept. 15 through Thursday, September 18 is listed below:

    County Region: Forecast (Duration)
    Levy: Moderate (M-W), Very Low (Th)

    Two weeks ago, officials at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission received reports of respiratory irritation on shore in some parts of northern Pinellas County ( and continued respiratory irritation in this area could be possible.

    However, no additional reports of respiratory irritation were received last week as of Friday, Sept. 12. NOAA’s forecast will be updated if field observations confirm elevated concentrations of K. brevis along the coast this week.

For updates about conditions at multiple Florida beaches, visit Mote Marine Laboratory’s Beach Conditions Report (

Sept. 27 Science + Girl Power = The Gills Club

Girls interested in science — especially sharks — are invited to a free meeting of the Gills Club from 1 to 2:30 p.m. on Sept. 27 at Mote Marine Laboratory, 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway on City Island, Sarasota. (Meet in front of the main entrance to Mote Aquarium.)

Mote is partnering with Atlantic White Shark Conservancy, which created the Gills Club — to bring science to more girls in our community. The Gills Club is geared toward girls ages 6-17, and families are also welcome.

The theme for September’s meeting is “Shark Safety: Are Sharks Really Dangerous to People?” and the meeting includes activities based on shark research and an introduction from a shark researcher.

The Gills Club is free for participants. Participation does NOT cover visiting Mote Aquarium. (For Aquarium admission fees, go to and scroll over “Aquarium.”)

RSVP is required for all meetings of the Gills Club. RSVP here.

Community Harvest This Month at Columbia

Good eats can satisfy much more than your appetite — eat at Columbia Restaurant throughout September and five percent of your check will support Mote Marine Laboratory or another non-profit organization of your choice.

The 17th Annual Columbia Restaurant Community Harvest will build on 16 years of raising more than $1.5 million for Florida nonprofit organizations.

New Volunteers Needed
at Mote

Learn More at Volunteer Coffee on Oct. 8

Looking for a way to support marine life and the southwest Florida community? Learn about exciting volunteer opportunities during a free coffee reception at Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium.

The reception will take place from 10 a.m. – noon on Wednesday, Oct. 8 in the Buchanan Room on the third floor of Mote’s main lab facility at 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway on City Island, Sarasota. Free coffee, juice and pastries will be available.

Mote volunteers and staff will give brief presentations and will remain available to answer questions and discuss specific volunteer opportunities. In particular, Mote needs more Aquarium guides to speak with visitors about our exhibits and animals, along with cashiers and greeters for our membership desk. Weekend help is especially needed.

Volunteers are vital to Mote Aquarium’s mission of informal science education, the Lab’s world-class marine research and other efforts from animal care to administration.

  • For more information and to RSVP for the reception, contact Elisa Painten at [email protected] or 941-388-4441, ext. 438.  (Current available positions are for ages 18 and older.)

Volunteers at Mote receive special training sessions with Mote scientists and staff and enjoy Mote Aquarium for free. Learn more about volunteer opportunities at:


Reaching a Mote Expert

We encourage members of the media to meet in person with Mote experts and, when possible, to join us in the field as we conduct research projects. If you are a member of the media covering marine topics, the best way for you to connect with Mote experts is to contact a member of the Communications staff who can help make these connections happen.

Turtle Nesting Season Updates

Founded in 1955, Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium is an independent, nonprofit 501(c)3 research organization based in Sarasota, Fla., with field stations in eastern Sarasota County, Charlotte Harbor and the Florida Keys. Mote has 24 research programs and a variety of initiatives dedicated to today’s research for tomorrow’s oceans with an emphasis on world-class research relevant to conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity, healthy habitats and natural resources. Mote’s vision includes positively impacting public policy through science-based outreach and education. Showcasing this research is Mote Aquarium, open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 365 days a year. Learn more at

Contact Us:
Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium, 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway, Sarasota, Fla., 34236. 941.388.4441


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