Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium welcomes Kaitlyn Fusco as Public Relations Manager; Be vigilant for marine life while boating; World Oceans Day in June

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Mote Aquarium is open 365 days per year, including Memorial Day and all other holidays, from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. at 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway in Sarasota.

Mote welcomes new

Public Relations Manager

Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium is excited to welcome Kaitlyn Fusco as Public Relations Manager.

Fusco will serve as the primary contact for media queries at the local to international level and will serve as a vital representative for Mote in the community. She will help the Lab fulfill a key goal in its guiding 2020 Vision & Strategic Plan: translating and transferring Mote’s scientific discoveries to help inform and benefit the public.

Fusco will work alongside Hayley Rutger, who will be transitioning from her role as Public Relations Manger to Mote’s Content Development Manager. Rutger will also serve as a secondary responder to all media queries.

Fusco is an award-winning writer whose work has appeared in multiple newspapers, magazines, blogs and web sites. She has a strong interest in marine life and conservation. She is skilled at distilling complex scientific information for public benefit and also writing with creativity and verve. Her recent work includes writing about mesothelioma cancer to educate patients via the site, writing about economic development for FORWARDFlorida and writing for Central Florida Lifestyle and Oh Brides magazines.

Prior to arriving at Mote, Fusco served as content director at True Real Estate, where she developed and managed search engine-optimized content for web sites, blogs and social media while also writing press releases, letters, brochures and more.

Fusco graduated Magna Cum Laude with her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the University of Central Florida (UCF). She is a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success, and she is one of only 11 students at UCF to qualify for Kappa Tau Alpha, the college honor society that recognizes academic excellence and promotes scholarship in journalism.

Be vigilant for marine life this summer boating season

A green sea turtle swims in Southwest Florida waters. Boaters are advised to be vigilant for marine life. (Credit Mote Marine Laboratory.)
As you enjoy Southwest Florida’s coastal waters this summer, Mote recommends that boaters follow Coast Guard-approved safe boating guidelines and use vigilance to avoid striking sea turtles, manatees and dolphins.Mote scientists are also asking boaters to keep an eye out for whale sharks moving through our region (details below). Florida’s Gulf Coast waters aren’t just beautiful for boating — they also provide important habitat for many protected species.

Sea turtles are swimming just offshore to mate before the females come ashore to nest, juvenile turtles are feeding along the Gulf Coast, and by early summer the first hatchlings will venture into Gulf waters. Turtles are also nesting on local beaches, so watching out for them is especially important. So far this year, Mote’s animal rescuers have responded to or received nearly 50 distressed or deceased sea turtles, including several affected by human activity.

To help address the threats faced by turtles, including sea turtles, the nationally-recognized World Turtle Day, on Saturday, May 23, raises awareness and respect for these reptiles.

Dolphins are giving birth during late spring and summer, and they frequently use shallow waters where they can not dive below an approaching boat. So far in 2015, Mote has responded to reports of four stranded bottlenose dolphins (two resident Sarasota Bay dolphins) and Mote worked with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and law enforcement officers to respond to nine pygmy killer whales that came too close to shore. The team guided the whales into deeper waters they normally inhabit.

Manatees are also on the move, returning to our bay waters for foraging and mating.

Here are specific ways to help keep our waters safe for marine life:

  • Within Sarasota or Manatee county waters, if you see an entangled, stranded or dead dolphin, whale or sea turtle, please call Mote’s Stranding Investigations Program, a 24-hour response service, at 941-988-0212.If you see an entangled, stranded or dead manatee anywhere in state waters or an entangled, stranded or dead dolphin, whale or sea turtle outside of Sarasota or Manatee counties please call the FWC Wildlife Alert hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922), #FWC, *FWC on your cellular phone or use VHF Channel 16 on your marine radio.
  • Boaters should follow 10 dolphin-friendly viewing tips.  Click here for a PDF. These tips were made with dolphins in mind, but they’re also great guidelines for the best ways to view all large marine animals.
  • Wearing polarized sunglasses can help boaters see marine life in their path.
  • Boaters and beachgoers should never feed marine wildlife. Click here to watch a PSA about why it’s harmful and illegal to feed wild dolphins:
  • Beachgoers should stay away from sea turtle nests marked with yellow stakes and tape, and seabird nesting zones that are bounded by ropes. Dogs are not allowed on Sarasota County beaches other than Brohard Paw Park in Venice, where they must be leashed or under voice control, according to county ordinances.
  • For numbers of sea turtle nests documented by Mote each week, along with more tips on how to protect sea turtles, visit
  • Be sure to stow trash and line when under way. Marine debris that accidentally blows overboard or out of a truck can become ingested by or entangled around marine life.
  • If you observe a manatee mating herd – several manatees gathered as males vie to mate with a female – watch the manatees from at least 100 feet away. Coming any closer might disrupt the animals’ natural mating behavior or put people into harm’s way. Adult manatees typically weigh upwards of 1,000 pounds and people could be seriously injured.

Special note about whale sharks: Mote scientists are asking members of the public to immediately report any new sightings of whale sharks along Florida’s Gulf coast. These gentle filter-feeding fish are seen in various places in the Gulf of Mexico and sporadically visit Southwest Florida’s coastal waters, most likely to feed on localized blooms of plankton or on fish eggs. Mote scientists are collecting reports of whale shark sightings to look for possible patterns to their movements in our waters.

  • Please report new whale shark sightings immediately by calling Mote’s Center for Shark Research at 941-388-1827.  Please note the number of whale sharks you saw along with the time, date and location (GPS coordinates if possible). Please provide your phone number and/or e-mail and note whether you can provide photos.(Please do not report sightings prior to May 2015 unless you precisely documented the sighting, including date, specific location and number of whale sharks.)

Sarasota Bay Fisheries Forum

free meeting June 4

The Sarasota Bay Fisheries forum — a group for anglers, scientists and others seeking to proactively address fisheries management topics in the Sarasota Bay area — is gearing up for its next meeting

The free meeting is open to the public and will take place from 6-8:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 4, on the third floor of Mote’s Keating Marine Education Center, 1599 Ken Thompson Parkway on City Island, Sarasota.

RSVP is required by June 1. Contact Vicki Wiese: 941-388-4441, ext. 172, [email protected]

The Sarasota Bay Fisheries Forum is an independent, community discussion designed to help inform fisheries management and science.

On June 4, participants can join local scientists to continue discussing and narrowing down key topics for the forum to focus on during its regular meetings.

Connect with the Forum on Facebook:

World Oceans Day June 6 at Mote

A worldwide ocean celebration is on the horizon — join the fun during the World Oceans Day Family Festival from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, June 6, in Mote Aquarium.

On World Oceans Day, people from all over the world celebrate the ocean and learn how to protect our marine environment. Mote’s World Oceans Day event will have the theme “Oceans of Inspiration” to spotlight the ocean’s deep connection to the human spirit and the boundless inspirational power of our natural world’s greatest resource.

World Oceans Day, officially celebrated on June 8, was created in 1992 at the Earth Summit and declared a holiday by the United Nations in 2009 as a reminder of the importance of a clean ocean and its impact on our future.

Here at Mote, we make a big splash each year. This year’s event will feature games and crafts focused on green practices, marine science and conservation by Mote and other local organizations.

The family festival is free with regular paid admission to Mote Aquarium and is free for Mote Members.

World Oceans Day takes place in many zoos and aquariums, coordinated in partnership with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and The Ocean Project.

Sponsors of Mote’s 2015 event include: Critter Ridge Landscape Contractors, Herald-Tribune Media Group, Insurance & Benefits Consultants (IBC) and Sam’s Club.

Details for Visitors:

  • What: World Oceans Day Family Festival
  • When: 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. Saturday, June 6
  • Where: Mote Aquarium, 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway in Sarasota
  • Cost: Free with admission to Mote. Admission prices at:

For more information or to sponsor the event, please contact Stacy Alexander at 941-388-4441 ext. 509 or [email protected].

Saturdays in June and July:

Learn about sea turtles on free walks

A loggerhead sea turtle crawl and nest. (Credit Mote Marine Laboratory)
Florida’s Gulf Coast is a hotspot for nesting sea turtles, but how much do you know about our flippered friends? You can learn the tale behind the turtle tracks and scout local beaches for nests by joining Mote Marine Laboratory’s free, educational Turtle Walks on Saturdays in June and July.

  • Mote documents sea turtle nesting from Longboat Key through Venice. See updated nest counts at

The public Turtle Walks are led by a Mote-trained volunteer participating in Mote’s Sea Turtle Patrol and Longboat Key Turtle Watch, which partner to monitor local beaches. The volunteer scouts for signs of turtle nesting as part of an effort to conserve sea turtles. She will also discuss sea turtle life history and talk about other local wildlife and natural habitats. People of all ages are welcome. Children must be accompanied by an adult. No reservations are needed.

Walks begin at 6:45 a.m. every Saturday in June and July. Participants should meet at the public beach access point at 4795 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key. Parking is available.

During the Turtle Walks, participants might find evidence of turtle nests or of “false crawls” — when females come ashore but return to sea without nesting. Guides will describe how Mote scientists and trained volunteers carefully interpret and document these signs. Participants will also learn how all beachgoers, coastal residents and visitors can keep beaches safe and inviting for sea turtles.

Southwest Florida beaches provide nesting grounds for threatened loggerhead sea turtles, endangered green sea turtles and occasionally for other sea turtle species. Florida’s west coast hosts the largest nesting population of loggerheads in the Gulf of Mexico. Nesting season runs from May 1 through Oct. 31.

2015 marks Mote’s 34th year of protecting sea turtles along 35 miles of Sarasota County beaches. To support Mote’s sea turtle research and conservation efforts, donate online at and select “donate.” In the drop-down box, choose “Sea Turtle Conservation.”

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

Copyright©2015 Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium, All rights reserved.




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