Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium: Newsday@Mote NOAA grant + VISIT FLORIDA award + successful electric car event = amazing week at Mote

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Mote Receives NOAA Grant for Marine Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation

Top: Rebeccah Hazelkorn (left) and Gretchen Lovewell of Mote Marine Laboratory, Denise Boyd of FWC, Jenna Rouse of Mote and law enforcement officer Mike Watson aid a dolphin in distress.
Bottom left: Gretchen Lovewell of Mote helps rescue a dolphin.
Bottom right: Gretchen Lovewell (left) and Rebeccah Hazelkorn of Mote examine a deceased dolphin while interns Molly Moleczek (furthest back) and Stefanie Rowland look on.
Mote Marine Laboratory recently received a $99,615 grant for its dolphin and whale rescue and rehabilitation efforts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).The grant was part of about $2.7 million total awarded as 35 grants to organizations in 18 states through the 2014 cycle of NOAA’s competitive John H. Prescott Marine Mammal Rescue Assistance Grant Program. This Program, established through an amendment to the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act, is a vital source of funds for marine mammal rescue and rehabilitation by members of the NOAA-coordinated National Marine Mammal Stranding Network — including Mote.

“Prescott grants are extremely important to us as a nonprofit organization rescuing and rehabilitating marine animals,” said Gretchen Lovewell, manager of Mote’s Stranding Investigations Program. “These grants are the only direct source of federal funds for members of the National Marine Mammal Stranding Network. As part of this network, we are first responders providing emergency aid to dolphins, whales and other marine mammals that might otherwise have no helping hand.”

Mote’s Stranding Investigations Program provides 24-hour responses to reports of sick, injured and deceased whales, dolphins and sea turtles — all federally protected species — in Sarasota and Manatee counties and is often asked to assist with rescues and large-scale events beyond this designated area due to their extensive experience dealing with stranded animals. The program also helps state biologists respond to sick, injured or deceased manatees, endangered marine mammals living in Florida’s coastal waters.

Mote responders transport stranded dolphins, small whales and sea turtles to Mote’s Dolphin and Whale Hospital or Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Hospital for treatment designed to help them recover and return to the wild, while giving deceased animals a detailed post-mortem examination called a necropsy. Necropsy findings help scientists evaluate the long-term mortality trends of these species, especially those relating to disease, injuries and manmade threats such as boat strikes and fishing gear entanglement. Findings offer vital information for resource managers working to protect marine animals.

Bones of deceased dolphins and small whales are preserved in Mote’s Ruth DeLynn Cetacean Osteological Collection, which contains hundreds of carefully documented bone specimens used in scientific studies.

The new Prescott funds will support operations, equipment and other key needs of Mote’s dolphin and whale rescue and rehabilitation programs, such as travel to distant rescue sites. It will also strengthen Mote’s diagnostic abilities by supporting the purchase of a MiniXray HF100 + Ultralight Portable X-ray unit.

“The portable X-ray will help us take images in the field and know sooner whether an animal can be released immediately or needs further treatment, and it can help us work with animals too large or cumbersome to bring into our vet lab,” Lovewell said. “With deceased animals, it will help us look for stingray barbs, fishing hooks or other foreign bodies and take a careful look at the overall body prior to conducting a necropsy or preparing the skeleton for documentation and study,” Lovewell said.

This year alone, Mote’s Stranding Investigations Program and animal hospitals have responded to more than 80 stranded sea turtles and 40 stranded marine mammals — a challenging task for a nonprofit such as Mote, which relies greatly on grants and support from the community to help animals.

While Prescott funds are vital to animal rescuers, the overall budget for this federal program has been cut in half during recent years. “Only about half of the proposals submitted were funded this year, so we are very grateful and fortunate to receive these funds,” Lovewell said.

Animal rescue and rehabilitation staff from Mote smile after successfully releasing a rehabilitated sea turtle. From left: Jenna Rouse, Connie Murk, Gretchen Lovewell, Lynne Byrd, Paul Hillbrand and Dr. Abe Robinson.

Mote Video Wins First-place Henry Award from

A video from Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium and its marketing firm, Paradise Advertising & Marketing, won a Henry Award — first prize for its category in the Flagler Awards for tourism marketing — on Monday during VISIT FLORIDA’s 47th Annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism.
The Flagler Awards, named for Henry Flagler and established in 2000, honor individuals and organizations that help maintain and improve Florida’s position as one of the world’s most popular travel destinations. Entries receive scores from a panel of judges who assess the creativity, innovation, production quality and effectiveness of projects in each category, along with Best of Show at multiple budget levels. Each category includes Bronze and Silver awards for runners up and a Henry Award for the winner.Mote — a Sarasota-based marine Lab and public Aquarium — won the Henry Award in the Social Media Marketing category for the video “Fish Tales” created with Paradise, based in St. Petersburg. The video, which spouts elaborately wrong information about marine animals and then cheekily corrects it, makes the point that conservation begins with education.

  • Watch the winning video by visiting Mote’s Youtube page or visiting and scrolling to the video just above “Dive into the Aquarium.”

Mote is a world-class marine science institution dedicated to informal science education to enhance ocean literacy among the public. Mote Aquarium, open 365 days per year in Sarasota, supports Florida tourism by hosting about 350,000 visitors annually, including many international guests. Learn more at:

This year’s Flagler Awards were presented Monday, Sept. 22 during the Chairman’s dinner of the Annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism at the Boca Raton Resort and Club, Boca Raton.

National Drive Electric Week at Mote Energizes Community

Top: Thomas Harmer, Sarasota County Administrator, Hayley Rutger of Mote Marine Laboratory, Susan Chapman, Vice-Mayor of the City of Sarasota, Rae Dowling of Florida Power & Light and Chris Sharek of NV5, City Captain for National Drive Electric Week in Sarasota, display the City and County’s proclamations honoring Electrify the Island and National Drive Electric Week on Sept. 20 at Mote Marine Laboratory.
Middle: A Tesla catches a young visitor’s attention during Electrify the Island.
Bottom: Edward Ellyat stands by his plugged-in Chevrolet Volt during Electrify the Island at Mote.
Electric vehicles and other eco-friendly technologies showed their power Saturday, Sept. 20, during “Electrify the Island”: the Sarasota-based festival for the nationwide celebration National Drive Electric Week.The event took place on the grounds of Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium — a world-class marine science and education institution that launched a Sustainable Energy Initiative in 2012 to enhance the Lab’s environmentally sound practices.

The event showcased plug-in electric vehicles owned by local residents, ride-and-drive sessions and displays of electric and hybrid vehicles from BMW of Sarasota, Coast Cadillac, Gettel Nissan, Sarasota Ford, Sunset Chevrolet and Tesla, along with vendors and educational booths focused on sustainability and energy efficiency. Florida Power & Light Company (FPL), partner in Electrify the Island and multiple Drive Electric Week events in Florida, presented its “Electric Avenue,” offering a photo op with the hybrid-electric Porsche Panamera and other activities while sharing its commitment to serve as a trusted source of information on electric vehicles for its customers.

During the event, special proclamations honoring Electrify the Island and National Drive Electric Week were presented by Thomas Harmer, Sarasota County Administrator, and Susan Chapman, Vice-Mayor for the City of Sarasota.

Saturday’s event was the third celebration in Sarasota for National Drive Electric Week (formerly called National Plug In Day), following previous successful events at Mote and St. Armands Circle. This year’s National Drive Electric Week involved more than 80 locations across the U.S. and aimed to draw global attention to the environmental and economic benefits of plug-in EVs.

Electrify the Island 2014 was made possible thanks to national partners Electric Auto Association, Plug In America and Sierra Club along with local partners Apollo Sunguard, Brilliant Harvest, Coast Cadillac, Eco-Smart, First Impression Premier Auto Detail, FPL, Freedom 4 Electric/Pedego, Gettel Nissan, Region Solar, Sarasota Ford, Sunset Auto Group, Tesla and Willis A. Smith Construction, Inc.

Sponsorships for this event support Mote’s Sustainable Energy Initiative – the Lab’s effort to use solar power, electric car chargers and other eco-friendly technologies and practices to conserve energy, water and other natural resources. The general public can support this initiative by sending a donation check with “Mote Marine Laboratory’s Sustainable Energy Initiative” as the recipient to: Mote Marine Laboratory, 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway, Sarasota, FL 34236.

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.

Night of Fish, Fun and Fright

Save the Date: Oct. 17

Buoys and ghouls of all ages are invited to dress up in costume for a Night of Fish, Fun and Fright from 6:30 to 9 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 17 at Mote Aquarium, 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway on City Island, Sarasota.

Sail the spooky seas and discover creatures from the deep in a safe and fun trick-or-treating zone and explore “Dr. Frankin-Fish’s Lab of Horrors” (recommended for children 8 and older).
Unearth sharks’ teeth in “Coffin Creek,” enjoy deep sea delights in the “Diner of the Dead” and take part in an education program geared toward ages 2-5. Don’t miss our signature underwater pumpkin carving in our spooktacular shark exhibit!

Ticket prices:

  • $8 online in advance (available Oct. 1)
  • $12 at the door ($10 for Mote Members)

(About the logo: Drac-Hugh-La is a play on the name of Mote’s resident manatee Hugh.)

Mote’s Oceanic Evening

Save the Date: Oct. 25

Make your reservation today for Mote Marine Laboratory’s signature gala, Oceanic Evening.

This annual black-tie fundraiser for marine science, conservation and education will take place at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 25 at The Ritz-Carlton Sarasota, 1111 Ritz-Carlton Drive.

Tickets are $300 per person and include a gourmet dinner featuring Mote Farm-Raised Sturgeon and Caviar — local seafood raised sustainably in aquaculture by Mote.

For reservations and sponsorships, contact Stacy Alexander or Erin Knievel at 941-388-4441 or [email protected] or [email protected].


  • Mote Receives NOAA Grant for Marine Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation
  • Mote Video Wins First-place Henry Award from VISIT FLORIDA
  • National Drive Electric Week at Mote Energizes Community
  • Sept. 27: The Gills Club
  • Oct. 17: Night of Fish, Fun & Fright
  • Oct. 25: Mote’s Annual Oceanic Evening
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 Us:
Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium, 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway, Sarasota, Fla., 34236. 941.388.4441

Copyright©2014 Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium, All rights reserved.


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