Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium (Mote) is not only an icon of Sarasota, but also a world-class marine research institution. An independent, not-for-profit organization committed to the conservation and sustainable use of our oceans, Mote brings the local community together, educating and reminding us of the vital importance of protecting our local marine habitat and beyond.
Plymouth Harbor residents have always been strong supporters of Mote — committing years of service and acting as volunteers, board members, and patrons. Resident Ted Rehl and his late wife, Fran, were volunteers for almost two decades, where he served as “head volunteer cashier,” responsible for filling all volunteer slots each week. Similar to the Rehls, many residents, including Larry Coffey, BJ Peters, Gerda Maceikonis, Molly Moffatt, Hank Gieseler, and many more, spent numerous years at Mote as loyal and devoted volunteers.
Resident Nancy Lyon is currently a 19-year volunteer of the organization. “My late husband, Bob, and I got involved when we were new to Sarasota,” she says. “He always liked fish, and we thought it would be a nice way to meet people.” It has turned into so much more for Nancy, who volunteers at Mote every Wednesday. Over the years, she has helped take care of mammals, assisted researchers, and helped guests in the gift shop.
Today, Nancy sells admission tickets. Her favorite part of volunteering there? Giving back to the sea and to the community. “What I always find so interesting is that a lot of people don’t realize that Mote is only 25 percent aquarium — the other 75 percent is devoted to science,” she says.
Resident Bobi Sanderson has volunteered as an aquarium guide at Mote for 22 years. Now volunteering on an as-needed basis, she works about three hours per week. Bobi was always passionate about ecology and marine life, so getting involved with Mote was a given. When asked what she enjoys most about her volunteer work, she almost immediately responded with “education.” She went on to say that she respects the staff, who consistently keep volunteers informed while collaborating with other laboratories and working on new discoveries. “You can’t help but be enthusiastic when you’re working there,” Bobi says. “You’re not only teaching, but you’re learning.”
Resident Dr. Lou Newman, a retired veterinarian with a Ph.D. in Veterinary Pathology, has also worked with Mote since he moved to the area years ago. Because of his professional background, Dr. Newman’s role is different than your average volunteer. Over the years, he has participated in training programs in order to aid in the rescue of marine animals, and later he assisted in the rehabilitation of these animals. He has also assisted in the cataloging of microscopic specimens and consulted with researchers on several projects. Today, Dr. Newman is consulting with researchers on biomarkers (substances indicative of disease or infection) related to fertility in several species of animals and fish.
There is no doubt that Mote is an organization unlike any other, and our residents are extremely dedicated to their service. To learn more about Mote’s efforts, visit www.Mote.org.