SARASOTA (FOX 13) - During the latest outbreak of red tide, Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium in Sarasota has been at the forefront of trying to figure out why it is happening and the extent of the damage.
But that's just one of the scientific missions of Mote. Another mission is more public. It's the aquarium.
The Mote Marine Aquarium is on City Island in Sarasota. What the place does in research behind the scenes, you can see on full display. Mote does extensive research on coral in the Florida Keys.
Mote's Stephanie Kettle ssaid ys coral is a billion dollar industry because of all the tourism is brings to the state.
"It's so important that we preserve that ecosystem," says Kettle.
There are some fascinating creatures to be seen too, like an octopus. He changes not just his color, but also his texture. Out in the coastal waters area, a chance to see what Florida is really all about.
Mote Marine is also about sharks. In fact, this is how the place got its start back in the 1950s. Kettle explained sharks are among the most misunderstood creatures in the world.
"It's so important that we communicate with our visitors the importance of sharks," she said.
Walk across the street, there is more to see, such as two manatees, named Hugh and Buffett and green sea turtles. The North American river otters seem to always be putting on a show.
Mote Marine's aquarium is a great place to get an up close look at some of the creatures that make Florida the unique place it is. For more information on how to visit, click over to their website.