Review of Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium


This review isn’t of a zoo, per say, but it is of an aquarium that is very special to me. Today I am reviewing the Mote Marine Laboratory, an aquarium, research facility, and marine animal hospital in Sarasota, FL. This aquarium was the sole reason I moved to Florida in January. I moved here for an internship at the aquarium’s sea turtle and whale hospital. It was an experience that changed my life.

I may be a little biased here, but I highly recommend this aquarium to vacationers. Founded by Eugenie Clark back in 1955, Mote has been a strong research facility since. The main building of the aquarium houses a variety of different fish species, sharks, and the sea lion show during its season, along with most of the research offices. There are various research projects underway including coral conservation, shark research, sea horse breeding, and more. One famous shark scientist, Nick Whitney, who has been seen on tv various times, does his research through Mote Marine and was a member of the OSEARCH research team.

The second building houses the marine mammals and sea turtles of the aquarium as well as the research offices for these animals. There is a pantropical spotted dolphin named Moonshine, two manatees named Hugh and Buffett, and a variety of sea turtles who were deemed non-releasable after being rescued and doing a stint in the hospital.


The second building is also where the Sea Turtle & Whale Hospital is located. This is where I interned for forty hours a week from January until April. Below you will see pictures of some of the turtles we rehabilitated along with a video of one being released. This internship was amazing. I met great friends, worked with wonderful staff, and learned so much. I wouldn’t change a thing about my internship and I was definitely sad to see it end.


I recommend visiting Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium if you ever find yourself in the Sarasota area. And I definitely recommend their internship program to anyone interested in that line of work. It is definitely worth it.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Darlene says:

    Hi Hillary, I know this is year’s later from your original post. Our daughter is considering an internship at MOTE this summer. She was accepted into their animal rehab internship program. My question is did this internship help you with your future career? Our daughter will graduate before the internship w/a 4 year degree in Environmental Science. The internship is not paid and we have to pay for housing, which they expect to be approx. $500 per month. Then she will have living expenses on top of that. The basic question, do you think the internship will help her land a paying job?


    1. Hillary says:

      Hi Darlene, This internship was an amazing experience and, in my opinion, well worth the expenses. I am currently employed as a full-time veterinary technician at a zoo in California. I was one of four girls in my intern group; one went on to work full time at a sea turtle hospital in the FL Keys. Another currently works at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center. And the third works at a zoo in Indiana. If your daughter is wanting to pursue a career in wildlife rehabilitation, veterinary medicine, or similar fields, then I highly recommend this internship. Aside from the great resume booster, it was a really fun internship and helped me feel confident that I was choosing the correct career for me. Best of luck to you and your daughter!


      1. Darlene says:

        Hillary, Thank you so much for your quick, informative response. It is so very much appreciated. I think one of our biggest hurdles is housing and whether we will be able to find something in FL. MOTE said they will help. The career options you mentioned are exactly what my daughter has been looking for. Thanks again for your insights. All the best to you.


  2. Beth Hardman says:

    Hi Hillary, I was wondering if you had any background experience in animal rehabilitation before applying for your internship? Was it related to the course you were studying at University? Also could you give me any information on the area the housing was in? I am applying this year to hopefully go in October, so it would be great to hear more about your experience!




    1. Hillary says:

      Hi Beth! Sorry for the delay in response, I’ve been traveling. I had volunteer and internship experience in wildlife rehab, not with marine animals. The other interns in my group had similar experiences. I know that the program is more competitive in the summer so if you have less experience, spring or fall might be better times to apply. As far as housing goes, they do not provide it. I just rented an apartment in the area while I was there, but the volunteer coordinator has a whole list of people who rent out rooms to interns, and you could even try to arrange living with another intern. It was definitely an experience I will never forget, I highly recommend it to anyone trying to get some marine animal time. The things you learn to do on the job are easy to pick up, and your supervisors train you well. Hope this helps!
      Let me know if you have any other questions.


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