Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Mote Aquarium

The indoor aquarium is fairly large and has probably 50 different displays, everything from a 2-foot long lobster, without the butter, clown fish, coral reefs, to some great fossils.

From here we stepped outside and found Molly the Mollusk, a 27 foot-long giant squid, this one was found in New Zealand and had been preserved, this is the only place in the USA that you can see on of these on display, no one has ever seen a live giant squid in it's natural habitat. No pictures of it, it was too ugly. There is also a model of a 14.5-foot hammerhead shark that was caught 2006 (World record).

It was feeding time for the sharks so we climbed up to the top of the 135000 gallon tank to watch them, We were all ready for a Jimmy Buffet style "Feeding Frenzy", but instead all we got was the care takers putting cut up fish on the end of a pole and holding it in the water for the fish to take, except none of the fish appeared to be hungry. The tank itself held a variety of fish: nurse, bull, black-tips and sand sharks, grouper, tarpon, snook and redfish, makes you want to go back out to the car and get your fishing rod.

From here we had to leave and walk about a block down to their other building where they keep the sea turtles and manatee.

Hang Tough is a green sea turtle (vegetarian), he was brought to the Mote with several injuries which left him blind so now he just swims around in his tank, using his flippers as a white cane to keep from swimming into the wall. You can't touch them but you can get within a foot or so of them when they come to the side of the tank.

Shelley and Montego are their two loggerhead turtles; they were born in captivity and were part of a study in N. Carolina, when the study ended they were sent here since they could not be released into nature. There is also a few baby turtle ranging in length from 2-inches to about 6-inches.

Another favorite are the manatee's Hugh and Buffett, they were born at the Miami Seaquarium and transferred to the Mote in 1996, they are trained to participate in the scientists research so they can try and save more of the manatee out in the wild.
Most of the injured wildlife brought to the Mote are rehabilitated, fitted with sensors and returned to the wild were they can be located and studied. There is also a dolphin pool but they weren't very active while we were there.

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