A rendering of Mote's new $130 million aquarium at Nathan Benderson Park.

On Feb. 25, the Manatee County board of commissioners unanimously voted to commit $5 million over five years to support Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium’s operations, programs and outreach activities that promote tourism. Mote is currently working with the School District of Manatee County on curriculum development for the three state-of-the-art STEM Learning Laboratories in the new Mote Science Education Aquarium (Mote SEA) at Nathan Benderson Park, where Mote will offer programming to every K-12 STEM class in local schools, free of charge. Mote sea turtle researchers, Stranding Investigations team, and other science staff also work in Manatee County to protect and preserve the area’s marine resources.