Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A Visit to Mote Marine

Sparky LOVES the Mote…Mote Marine Laboratory/ Aquarium...It's a combination aquarium and research facility where the public can view scientists and researchers doing experiments,  talk to researchers while they are working, ask questions, watch volunteers test and take care of sick animals, experience first hand marine life through "touch tanks", of which there are several throughout the aquarium, and learn about the Mote's efforts to preserve marine life.

Theresa and Chuck, Eldy's sister and brother-in-law really enjoyed their visit today….Theresa had her hands in every touch tank in the place! :-)  She especially liked the cow nose rays that are in one of the touch tanks. We saw about FIFTY cow nose rays the other day swimming back and forth along the Anna Maria Island pier….That was so cool!
And so did this little girl….the looks on the little kids' faces are just priceless…They are so excited to touch a living thing!
Sparky always sees something new she didn't notice before on her last visit. Like this certain kind of sea horse that had little appendages that looked like reef branches or seaweed that was actually growing out of their bodies!
It's cool to see the researchers doing their jobs right in front of the public…..
The turtle tanks had a new turtle besides the usual loggerheads swimming around…Sparky thinks the volunteer said it was a Kemp Ridley turtle….one of the world's most endangered turtle species.
As you stand at the edge of the water tanks to watch the turtles, they also have viewing windows down at the BOTTOM of the sidewalls so little kids can get a REALLY up close view of the turtles swimming by, and the turtles seem to enjoy looking right back at you!

Sparky learned some new things from the Mote today….(Depredation is when an animal has dug into the nest and destroyed some eggs….)
How to read turtle nest signs that you see at the beach….There's an exhibit that explains what all the terms and numbers mean on the nests. Not all the numbers here are explained, but here are a few. Initials are the staff member or volunteer who's reporting about the nest. A "V" means it's a verified sea turtle nest. "GMD" means the island address. A "DEP" means depredation--predators have gotten to the nest and destroyed some of the eggs. This nest lost 10 eggs to a predator, maybe a raccoon or ghost crab. An "REL" means the nest has been relocated for any number of reasons by the staff.  A "D" on the sign with a date means there's a depression or drop in the sand on the nest. That means the eggs have started to hatch and the baby turtles are coming out of the nest soon. An "H" on the nest sign means that baby turtle hatchling marks have been observed around the nest so the hatchlings have come out. "DIS" with a date--"disorientation" means baby turtle marks have been observed moving away from the water. NOT good! And finally, a circle with an "x" inside it means approved volunteers and researchers have excavated a nest after the hatching to determine and record the number of hatched and unhatched eggs.

Sparky also learned that when the baby turtles come out and make it to the water, they swim for 24-48 hours nonstop! This is called a "swimming frenzy". They are heading for ocean currents and an offshore feeding grounds called the sargassum weed line. They survive on egg yolk reserve and don't eat until they get to the weed line, where they will be safer from predators…..

There's a new exhibit coming February 1st to the Mote: Survivors--Beautiful and Extreme Adaptations. Gonna have to go back and see that…..We had a fabulous time at Mote Marine today! Tomorrow, the Bok Tower at Lake Wales, FL…..


  1. Wow. .that is very interesting about the sea turtles and how far they go till they reach safety....

    Karen and Steve
    (Blog) RVing: The USA Is Our Big Backyard

  2. Learned something new from your blog today.. thanks! Did you see the video of turtles hatching and running for the water? So cool!

    1. Yes, I did….loved that…there was a post on Facebook that I tried to drop into the blog one time about the turtles hatching over on the east coast….It was amazing!

  3. Well that is just so interesting about the turtle nests. We have seen many nests over the years, but never knew what all the writing meant. I'm going to have to keep track of this post so I can refer back to it. We love those little rays. We had some come up to us in the water once when we were wading. They would peek their little heads up and just look at you. So cute.