Get an Underwater View of Marine Life —While Staying Dry!

Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium’s new Education and Outreach Center is now open on Anna Maria City Pier

There’s a new attraction on Anna Maria Island that brings the wonders of marine science to life for all ages. The Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium’s Education and Outreach Center just opened in May on the historic Anna Maria City Pier, overlooking Tampa Bay. It is free to visit, open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day, and has programs and exhibits for all ages.

As visitors arrive, the center’s educators and volunteers are on hand to answer questions, give background information on exhibits and programs, and help them learn about the critical coastal habitat surrounding the center and the pier. The focal point of the center is an interactive invertebrate touch pool exhibit, where guests can put their hands into a shallow tank and touch the invertebrate creatures living there, such as sea urchins and stingrays. A “Draw Alive” station will bring guests’ drawings to life, and a multi-station microscope will bring out their inner scientists. The displays throughout the space include educational exhibits about manatees, mangroves and sea turtles, and there is a camera under the pier that lets visitors watch the real lives of creatures swimming below the surface in the Gulf of Mexico. Whether the marine life is cruising by the camera, feeding or playing, watching them move freely through the water is captivating. 

In addition, visitors can register for programs geared toward young children, or the entire family. The Shark Pups & Grownups program is a fun early childhood STEM session for children ages 2 through 5 and their favorite adult. The classes have marine life themes (such as Totally Turtles) and include movement, sign language, science and exploration, role play, games and a take-home craft.

For the whole family, the Seashore SEAfari event is a mini-adventure that begins with a full tour of the Anna Maria City Pier center, to learn about the ongoing research programs at Mote Lab and Aquarium, as well as the history of the Anna Maria City Pier. The tour is followed by a 30-minute guided beach walk along the coast to learn about local plants and animals while enjoying one of the best views in town.

The new Education and Outlook Center is part of Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium’s ongoing mission to translate and transfer marine science as a public service to increase ocean literacy.

Visit mote.org/annamaria for more information and to register for programs.