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Mote Marine Aquarium Gets $400,000 for Aquatic Research


Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium has received $400,000 in grants this week from two Sarasota-based family foundations.

The new funds include a major grant from the Sara S. Roberts Foundation for Mote’s efforts to rescue and treat sick and injured dolphins and whales, and an anonymous supporter for Mote’s shellfish restoration, marine-based cancer research and sustainable seafood farming.

The nonprofit marine research institution depends on local support for many of its science, education and outreach efforts.

“It’s hard to imagine our community without Mote Marine Lab — they are a world-class institution right in our own backyard, and we are proud in particular to support their efforts to help injured dolphins and whales,” said George Famiglio, Jr.,Trustee of the Sara S. Roberts Foundation.

“Family foundations in our area have been an important pillar of support for Mote throughout our 57-year history, and we are especially grateful for this new round of generosity,” said Kumar Mahadevan, Mote’s President and CEO. “These grants will aid our work within the exciting Vision and Strategic Plan we unveiled in 2011, which above all else is focused on today’s research for tomorrow’s oceans.”

The donations will be used for:

  • Shellfish restoration: Mote scientists are planning new efforts to restore populations of scallops in Sarasota Bay, where shellfish are an important basis of ecosystem health. This funding will help Mote to develop and lead a multi-institution effort with the ultimate goal of enhancing local shellfish stocks.
  • Next-generation research: This funding will help Mote recruit top young scientists by supporting the Mote Post-Doctoral Fellowship program and will enhance Mote research in coastal ecology.
  • Cancer research: Mote scientists are studying why sharks and their relatives, rays and skates, rarely get cancer. Mote studies have shown that substances produced by these animals’ immune systems can inhibit the growth of human tumor cell lines. This funding will support the program’s continued research, which is designed to support a better understanding of health problems in humans and benefit wild populations of the marine life studied.
  • Sustainable seafood farming: Mote Aquaculture Park (MAP) is a sustainable fish farm and research facility in eastern Sarasota County dedicated to developing the technology for raising environmentally friendly seafood using recirculated water. This funding will support Mote’s efforts in a commercial demonstration research and development project to raise Siberian sturgeon and caviar, which is currently sold through distributors across the U.S.
  • Hospital care for marine animals: Support from the Sara S. Roberts Foundation will help Mote rescue and rehabilitate sick and injured dolphins and whales. Mote’s Dolphin and Whale Hospital is a nationally recognized facility that has treated 69 dolphins and whales since 1992.


Steve Newborn is a WUSF reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.
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